WSJ 10/4/2018 By Danial Henninger
In the matter of the Democratic Party versus Judge Brett Kav anaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, it is time to have it out. We have arrived at an inevitable moment in every classic Western showdown. There is nothing left to talk about. We don’t need any more FBI reports. It’s time to go out into the street and settle this. As a man who was done talking in Sam Peckinpah’s “Ride the High Country” said: “Start the ball, old man!”
It’s time to start the ball— first with a vote on the Senate floor, and then with votes across the country for Senate control in November.
We are a civilized people. We don’t actually shoot each other, most of the time. Street gangs do that, and the U.S. Senate isn’t a street gang. But it has begun to look more like Dodge City than the seat of a great nation.
Senate hearings have become dogfights attended by mobs. Demonstrators routinely throw themselves on the floor in front of senators’ offices. The Jeff Flake entrapment after the Judiciary Committee vote was a low point in modern Senate history, with the senator cornered inside an elevator by a woman shrieking “Look at me!” for inevitable capture by a video.
By now in the Kavanaugh saga, with all the moral intimidation, gender-baiting and bad faith thrown at their side, you would think each of the 51 Republican Senators would vote to confirm out of simple self-respect. But self-respect has become a hard thing to maintain under the weight of modern media, so people just bend.
The Kavanaugh confirmation was always going to be a big political moment, but no one could have predicted it would expand across four weeks into one of the most defining political events in a generation.
Before this began, the conventional wisdom was correct that the midterm elections would be a referendum on He Who Cannot Be Avoided— President Trump. After lying low through most of the hearings, Mr. Trump surfaced Tuesday evening in Mississippi with a diatribe against Christine Ford’s variable memory.
I’m not sure another Trump cannonball matters at this point. The Kavanaugh confirmation, watched by millions, has put in play considerations bigger than Donald Trump or Brett Kavanaugh.
Start with the other transcendent event of our time: The 2016 presidential election result. Within hours, the Trump victory put in motion an anti-Trump “resistance” that transferred control of the Democratic Party to its leftmost wing.
The nonstop war between Mr. Trump on one side and the left and the national press corps on the other has caused a few realities from the 2016 election to drop from view.
The 63 million or so Americans who voted for Donald Trump weren’t the lunatic fringe. For many, Mr. Trump was their vessel for two concerns— the future of the Supreme Court and the implications of a Hillary Clinton presidency after Barack Obama’s two terms.
The Kavanaugh nomination has put both these powerful subtexts from 2016 back in play. The Democrats have managed to shift the midterm elections away from Mr. Trump’s personality and make it about the Supreme Court, the status of the law in the U.S. and the nature of Democratic rule. The sincerity of Ms. Ford’s testimony notwithstanding, this phase of the confirmation began with no corroborative evidence against Judge Kavanaugh and is ending with no evidence. The acceptance of this no-evidence standard, not just by the Judiciary Committee Democrats but by nearly all Democrats and most of the media, is something people have noticed.
One reader of this column said a litmus test of pure belief in the context of a nomination to the nation’s highest legal institution brought to mind a famous dictum by Fidel Castro: “Within the revolution, everything. Against the revolution, nothing.”
As to the many who said in 2016 their vote was less about Donald Trump than about preventing a Clinton presidency, the hearings have put faces on the reality of Democratic congressional control: Feinstein, Leahy, Durbin, Whitehouse, Klobuchar, Coons, Blumenthal, Hirono, Booker and Harris. As the committee’s senior Democrat, Dianne Feinstein would become arbiter of the federal judiciary.
The coverage of Brett Kavanaugh’s past has also put a whiff of anti-Catholicism in the air, with the constant invocations of “Georgetown Prep,” suggesting not subtly that this all-boys school, founded by Jesuits in 1789, was an abusers’ breeding ground. To invoke a legal term, this is a slander, and many at this point resent it.
It’s possible the Democrats are aligned with a deeper shift in the nation’s psyche. Despite a modern world created by precise algorithmic proofs, we may be entering a time driven more by inner mental states. Some are calling it an era of post-truth. For the law, I would call it an era of jury nullification. Chuck Schumer wants results without votes.
It is time for Sens. Jeff Flake, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp to stand for one Senate tradition: a public vote.