Patterico's Pontifications

9/27/2018

Round-up of Today’s Events [UPDATED]

Filed under: General — JVW @ 5:03 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Just trying to encapsulate the slow news day with some opinion from the right regarding what went on today on Capitol Hill. I’m frankly not interested in the left’s take on events as the vast majority of them have approached this whole confirmation imbroglio in bad faith, but if you come across anything reasonable from our ideological opponents you are welcome to post it in the comments.

Over at National Review, Rich Lowry is dismayed at the kid-gloves handling of Professor Ford:

Christine Blasey Ford was compelling and sympathetic. Clearly, she sincerely believes her account. But that doesn’t mean it’s correct. She very well could be mistaken about a long-ago memory, which is why Republicans needed to draw out the gaps in her story, walk through how others contradict her, and highlight the complete lack of corroborating evidence. The designated questioner, Rachel Mitchell, failed to do this effectively at all.

But he was heartened by Judge Kavanaugh’s strong defense of his character:

It was tremendous, a rhetorical tour de force. It was personal, detailed, persuasive, and moving. A lot of commentary is focusing on his anger — but if he’s innocent, he has every right to be furious, indeed should be furious. [. . .] [H]e managed to buttress his credibility and question hers, without seeming nasty or dismissive.

Powerline’s Scott Johnson, like Rich Lowry, didn’t think the GOP came armed for battle with the devious Dems:

The Democrats play to win and have a unity that eludes Republicans. They are unconstrained by norms of decency or by the otherwise applicable rules. The game they are playing is transparent. As Bob Dylan might put it, she’s only a pawn in their game.

I have no idea what the attorney questioning Ford on behalf of Republicans. She made a point or two and may have made others I missed. The point of many questions was not apparent to me. She seemed worse than ineffectual.

Yet he too (#HeToo) was partially assuaged by Judge Kavanaugh’s grace under pressure:

Judge Kavanaugh took the opportunity of his statement to defend his life. It took him 35 years to build his reputation. The Democrats have destroyed it. They have taken away a good share of his life. He responded entirely appropriately while proclaiming his innocence of the charge and making out the wrong done to him by the Democrats. He drew on his 1982 calendar to go a long way to refute the allegation raised against him by Christine Blasey Ford. He addressed facts and cited corroborative testimony.

Writing at Fox News, Andy McCarthy also frets that the GOP questioning of Professor Ford didn’t go very well:

Democratic senators were pointed in their questions and speechifying. Republicans were ostentatiously deferential to Ford, while the hearing format guaranteed that their approach lacked continuity and focused questioning. In fact, at the end of the testimony, [GOP counsel Rachel] Mitchell laughed with Ford, commiserating with her about how bad the hearing format was. All of this strengthened Ford’s standing and made her a more sympathetic figure.

Also at NR, David French reminds us that despite Prof. Ford’s forceful testimony, she introduced no new evidence in the case to buttress her shocking claims:

The evidence is no stronger this afternoon than it was before Dr. Ford testified. When this controversy began, I said that her claims were serious enough that, if true, Kavanaugh should not be confirmed. Further, I said that that she should only have to carry the lowest burden of proof — to establish that her claims were more likely than not. If you step back, look at the totality of the evidence and consider that she has brought no new evidence to the committee, I still don’t believe she has met that minimal burden.

Before the testimony even began, Thomas Wheatly at The Federalist made the point that we can’t let emotion overcome logic:

Empathy’s acolytes tell us that when a person has been harmed or experienced an injustice, the moral imperative–at all costs–is to rectify that injustice and ameliorate the harm. One must not be distracted by any fallout from secondary and tertiary concerns, because the immediate harm, by virtue of its vividness, deserves our our unfettered emotional investment. [. . .]

The Kavanaugh fight cannot and should not be solved by putting ourselves in others’ shoes. Reason, not empathy, is what is needed. And reason says this: There is not enough evidence in the public domain at this time to clearly settle this issue. More information is needed. [. . .]

Lindsey Graham appears to be playing the same role for Judge Kavanaugh that Arlen Specter played for Clarence Thomas 27 years ago, that of the GOP “moderate” who rouses his inner conservative in order to protect a man who he thinks is being unfairly railroaded. At NR, Jack Crowe recaps Senator Graham’s remarks and embeds the video. If you want to see a great example of the partisan divide in our country, run search for “Lindsey Graham” and then click over to News and check out the attaboys from the right juxtaposed to the “my God, the man is off his rocker” reaction from the left.

A lot of the real hot takes these days are of course on Twitter, but I have avoided that particular opinion portal today and I think I will do so for the rest of the week through the weekend. There’s no need to plow through all of the noise that it going to be trapped there.

Here’s my take: Professor Ford’s testimony and Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony in a perfect world ought to be a wash, but in this era of #MeToo certitude I will bet that she will come out slightly the better in public opinion. But I also have believed all along that it doesn’t matter one whit. Despite all of this grandstanding and caterwauling we are exactly at the same place we were the day after Professor Ford’s accusations were first made public: Can the GOP get 50 votes for his confirmation and have Vice-President Pence cast the tiebreaker? I think the Democrats have succeeded in taking Senators Manchin, Donnelly, Heitkamp, McCaskill, Nelson, and Tester off the hook in terms of being able to vote against him without hurting their reelection chances.

It now comes down to the potential jellyfishes on the GOP side:

Susan Collins seems to have bonded with Judge Kavanaugh during their interview earlier, as she immediately afterwards announced that she was satisfied with him as a judge. Does she have the sand to continue with her support?

Bob Corker wasn’t originally someone who was thought to be wavering, but he was adamant that the hearings be reopened and more evidence collected. Has he been satisfied?

Jeff Flake also made a big show of “she must be heard,” so does he now fall on the no-new-evidence-has-been-presented-side or the credible-is-damn-near-the-same-as proven side? Does he hate Trump so much that he wants to poke him in the eye one last time on his way out? The late John McCain had praised Judge Kavanaugh at the time of his nomination, and despite his own tendency to grandstand one can see Sen. McCain taking a very dim view of how these proceedings have unfolded. Does Flake honor his late colleague by remaining a judicial conservative?

I don’t know what to make of Lisa Murkowski. Because she’s from a notoriously corrupt family political machine I never know if she sees this vote as an opportunity to burnish her GOP credentials or an opportunity to win some plaudits from the left and establish her maverick streak. You will recall that the state GOP in Alaska tried to oust her from her seat by nominating someone else, only to have her run and win as a write-in candidate. She therefore might feel that she owes the GOP nothing. My thinking is that her vote might be the shakiest of all.

It’s sad what we have become, and Democrats will rue the day that they determined that this was the way to defeat nominees. I can’t wait until Kamala Harris is called upon to explain why it’s OK to use a corrupt, aging sugar daddy to launch her political career.

– JVW

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: I listened to the beginning of the hearing on my drive in to work today. I guess I sound like I am saying “Me Too” (no pun intended) when I write what I write here, since I was working all day and had no chance to opine, but you can see my immediate take from these contemporaneous tweets:

You don’t hire a sex crimes prosecutor to attack an alleged victim of sex crimes. You hire a sex crimes prosecutor to allow an alleged victim of sex crimes to present her story as clearly and sympathetically as possible. And that’s what happened this morning. When I heard Blasey Ford admit that she had talked to her good friend about the incident, the prosecutor simply thanked Ford for the correction and moved on. I was screaming questions at the radio. Is this is the same friend who already told the world she has no idea what you’re talking about? Did she say anything different to you? Etc.

When I got to work I made a friendly bet with a colleague that Trump would withdraw the nomination. I was convinced Kavanaugh was toast.

Then, during a drive to the coroner’s office for a meeting with a Deputy Medical Examiner, I heard a good chunk of Kavanaugh’s opening statement. It was passionate and full of the sort of fantastic evidence that Republicans were too weak to bring up themselves this morning. Finally Republican Senators seemed energized, and I realized with relief that I was going to lose the bet with my colleague.

He’s not out of the woods, with his fate in the hands of the likes of Susan Collins. But Republicans finished the day a lot stronger than they started it.

UPDATE x2: WTF I love Lindsey Graham now.

UPDATE x3 (JVW): Thanks to Patterico for providing the Graham video. There is another version over at The Federalist (it won’t allow me to embed it here) which has a camera angle in which they pan over at the 1:01 mark to show Feinstein, Durbin, and Leahy with kind of hang-dog looks on their faces. Leahy actually turns away from Graham during the Senator’s philippic. It’s marvelous.

Open Thread: Slow News Day

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:15 am

Nothing much happening today. What’s on your mind?

Oh: if you’re going to be following the whole “did our Supreme Court nominee facilitate chain rape and commit sexual assault?” hearing, here are a couple of tidbits.

Not to pull an Ed Whelan on you, but maybe it was these guys who attacked Ford?

The Senate Judiciary Committee has interviewed two men this week who say that they, not Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh, were involved in the sexual assault that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford alleged happened in the summer of 1982.

Then again, maybe not:

The news was included in a timeline released Wednesday evening by the committee, and it is unclear how seriously the committee is taking the claims. Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham called one of the men “crazy as a loon” when asked about the claims Thursday morning on “Fox & Friends.”

I hear that Sen. Mazie Hirono said on CNN that she is Very Upset that “shadow people” are claiming credit. Because if there’s one thing that shouldn’t affect this process, it’s anonymous accusations from shadow people who might be lunatics. OH BY THE WAY DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE NEW ACCUSATION AGAINST BRETT KAVANAUGH?!?!?!?

Oh, and as for the creepy porn lawyer’s client? There’s this:

Julie Swetnick, the woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and a friend of attending house parties where women — including herself — were sexually assaulted, had a restraining order filed against her years later in Miami by her former boyfriend.

A Miami-Dade County court docket shows a petition for injunction against Swetnick was filed March 1, 2001, by her former boyfriend, Richard Vinneccy, who told POLITICO Wednesday the two had dated for four years before they broke up.

Thirteen days later, the case was dismissed, not long after an affidavit of non-ability to advance fees was filed.

According to Vinneccy, Swetnick threatened him after they broke up and even after he got married to his current wife and had a child.

“Right after I broke up with her, she was threatening my family, threatening my wife and threatening to do harm to my baby at that time,” Vinneccy said in a telephone interview with POLITICO. “I know a lot about her.”

“She’s not credible at all,” he said. “Not at all.”

Vinneccy is a victim. Believe victims!

Enjoy today’s shenanigans! And always remember: we have to delay and investigate some more! It’s the Democrat way.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Two Men Interviewed After Claiming It Was Them, Not Brett Kavanaugh, Who Had Encounter With Blasey Ford

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:58 am

[guest post by Dana]

During his interview with Fox News on Monday, Brett Kavanaugh said:

“I am not questioning and have not questioned that perhaps Dr. Ford at some point in her life was sexually assaulted by someone at some place,” he added. “But what I know is, I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone.”

Last night it was announced that the Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans had interviewed two men who claimed that it was them, not Brett Kavanaugh, who had been involved in the assault alleged by Christine Blasey Ford:

The committee has interviewed two men who came forward about the disputed assault at a summer house party. Both told the committee they, not Kavanaugh, “had the encounter with Dr. Ford in 1982 that is the basis of his complaint,” the release states.

One of the men was interviewed twice by committee staff. He also submitted two written statements, one on Monday and a second, more in-depth statement on Wednesday.

Committee staff spoke to a second man over the phone Wednesday who also said he believed he, not Kavanaugh, had the disputed encounter with Ford. “He explained his recollection of the details of the encounter” to staff, the release states.

Democrats were not happy with the timing of the two men coming forward:

“Republicans are flailing,” the aide said, according to NBC News. “They are desperately trying to muddy the waters. … Twelve hours before the hearing they suggest two anonymous men claimed to have assaulted her. Democrats were never informed of these assertions in interviews, in violation of Senate rules.”

Untitled

–Dana


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