Washington, D.C. - In a party-line vote of 11-10, the Republican-dominated Senate Judiciary Committee pushed Judge Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination to the Senate floor, of course with an 11th-hour caveat.
Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) requested that the floor vote be delayed until after a brief FBI investigation. Flake was cornered by Democrats outside of the hearing room who pleaded with him for another delay.
What comes in the immediate future is a bit of a toss-up today - this appears to be unprecedented.
If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has the 50 votes needed to clear Kavanaugh's nomination, he doesn't need Flake's support and will likely not bow to Flake's request. However, should the Senate leader not have the votes, it would move to President Trump's desk to issue an FBI investigation of Kavanaugh.
This is just as unprecedented as the day before, which was the single most draining, demoralizing, and emotional spectacle of our broken partisan system that most of us have ever seen in our lives.
On Thursday, when Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford testified against one another before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the stakes could not have been higher. Flanked by lawyers, Ford recounted her memories of having been attacked by a teenaged Kavanaugh, that she couldn’t remember how she got there, but that she remembered the house, etc. Later, Kavanaugh came to the microphone and issued his opening statement defending himself, explaining to the world the little details of the calendar he kept, his relationships with his friends, that he drank beer, etc.
He was deeply shaken, she was deeply shaken. It was terrible to watch and terrible to consider how well orchestrated this symphony of partisan hell came to be.
Kavanaugh said it, Lindsey Graham said it, and we all thought it.
That is why the numbers of independent voters across the country are growing.
How Did We Get Here?
These proceedings are meant to clarify the moral integrity of a man who may assume the mantle of justice of the Supreme Court.
In the weeks since Kavanaugh was shortlisted as a possible nominee to replace Justice Kennedy, intensive public and private analysis began. People wanted to know who he was, what his record was, and what his political persuasions were.
Brett Kavanaugh then accepted the nomination, confident he could do the job and that his record spoke for itself and that his moral integrity would stand on its own. Meanwhile, Blasey Ford wrote a letter to Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) claiming that she had been sexually assaulted by the nominee decades ago. Instead of immediately calling for an FBI investigation, Feinstein’s office vetted her, paid for her attorneys, and then before the committee could vote on Kavanaugh, Ford’s accusations were rolled out to the media for all the world to see and cast judgment.
On Thursday, as she cried and recounted traumatic memories and while he gasped and cried defending his good name, sitting in front of them were dozens of television cameras and microphones happily transmitting fresh hot product into households and handhelds around the world: delivering us anguish and political chess all in one show.
Is he responding too strongly? Is she crying too much? How many more patronizing questions will be asked? It is all so predictable.
And above them (how appropriate) on the circular dais were the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, politicians one and all, tasked with proving or disproving moral rectitude.
Independents Are Done With The Circus
The media has spun this entire nomination proceeding into an abusive, violent version of the final episode of The Bachelor (or whatever tasteless reality show you secretly love). And the Senate Judiciary Committee has allowed it, because the game played out in this room affects the midterms and their jobs.
If Kavanaugh’s nomination is sunk it’s a win for the Dems, which the Republicans will rail against. If Kavanaugh is confirmed the left will vilify him. It would never have gotten this far if real justice and protection for Christine Blasey Ford or if getting a stellar judge on the Supreme Court were actual concerns.
The real concern is partisan power and who will find their way to the top.
Independents comprehend this in almost any news story, and that is why we are at the end of our rope. But that is always why we are good at being patient. Just wait for the paper trail, and IP address trail, money transfers, and text messages — the conversations to stop a nomination, to prevent a process, to derail good judgment, to disrupt our democratic process, to damage individual lives.
See you at the Senate next week. Maybe?