It’s absolutely impossible to look back on last week’s Senate Judiciary hearing with anything but disappointment, shock, anger and disgust.
Regardless of how one feels about the nominee, the entire proceedings were shameful. Members of the panel more than characterized the divisions in this nation. By their noxious, immovable and completely partisan behavior during the whole sorry affair, new and horrendous political and societal fissures were created that won’t heal in a generation. If ever. In the process, Republicans, especially, ignored the time-honored method of selecting, vetting and impartially examining merits of a U.S. Supreme Court pick.
Against the knowledgeable and politically accurate advice of his own Majority Leader, and with deadly malice aforethought, the president lit the fuse. He turned the selection process over to a right wing think tank after placing his own asterisk by Brent Kavanaugh’s name.
There was no vetting process. Documents were secreted. Outlandish attempts were made to conceal important information about the nominee’s legal career and personal history. Millions of dollars were spent on a whitewash ad campaign. Republican members of the committee staff were openly partisan and blocked attempts of Democrat counterparts to develop and present their own findings.
The nation has seen the outcome. Two badly damaged people, pitted against each other like gladiators in some coliseum, encouraged by partisans to “do battle” as witnesses. The whole damned thing should never have been allowed to proceed after the first wisps of smoke appeared in the candidate’s background.
The prostituted process lacked the one ingredient that could have saved the whole sorry affair: a thorough FBI check into the various claims arising from the nominee’s past. A week’s impartial examination - maybe even only a few days - could have produced necessary information for the Committee to make a just and informed recommendation. Republicans repeatedly refused anyone who asked. They, uniformly, would not yield to even common sense.
There is now an FBI investigation in progress. But, look at the cost of the accumulated wreckage. Look at the career and personal damage to witnesses and politicians alike. All of it - all of it - could have been avoided.
There’s enough blame in this whole sorry mess to go around. Democrats also played a role in fouling the deal.
But, Republicans are in charge. They have the dominant numbers. They have the gavel. They call the tune - set the stage - direct the show. They have complete responsibility that goes with all those facts. To our everlasting shame, with the world watching, they conducted this demonstration of barbarous partisanship and may have set despicable “standards” for future judicial proceedings.
You can choose to believe the accuser(s). You can believe the nominee. But, one thing you must personally believe was the visible demonstration of intemperance, overwrought emotions, combativeness and deep anger displayed by Kavanaugh. Then, regardless of political outlook, you have to ask yourself “Are those characteristics ones you want sitting in judgement on all issues brought before the U.S. Supreme Court?” What if it’s your “issue?” How trusting would you be your issue would be judged impartially?
Finally, the entire tragedy could have been avoided with the selection of someone not carrying the baggage of years of political partisanship. Someone characterized by demonstrated legal acuity, possessed of emotional and other personal traits desired in a Justice of the highest court. Someone known by peers to be capable of withstanding the pressures and rigors of serving on a panel carrying the full weight of one-third of this nation’s constitutional governance.
This tragic affair could have been avoided if those charged with conducting the matter had relied on tradition, rules, common sense, compassion and law. They did not.
Regardless of the outcome of November’s election, the bad feelings, anger, resentment, emotional damage and political ruptures will linger. For a long, long time.