The hearings into the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy opened with all the solemnity of a WWE WrestleMania match. Much like the sports analogy, the political pugilism is rehearsed, and the outcome predetermined.
The typical voice of the radical left was heard from a series of screamers in the audience. While such iconic antics had no impact on the course of the hearing, the mouthy protestors did achieve their primary objective – to draw attention to themselves in a pathetic effort to claim false relevancy. Even they could not possibly believe that their cacophonous attempt to shut down the hearing would be remotely successful.
Though with greater decorum, the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee immediately embarked on the same futile mission – knowing, as did the protestors, that their efforts would fail. Instead, Democrat members used the platform to seek personal political advantage for their Party and themselves in the upcoming midterm elections. Several wannabe presidential candidates pontificated with speeches designed to create footage for future campaign commercials. In less than 24-hours, New Jersey Senator and presidential hopeful Corey Booker used his remarks – only somewhat related to the purpose of the hearing – to launch a fundraising campaign.
In a day that was reserved for statements by members of the Committee, the disempowered Democrats called for the hearing to be postponed – adjourned. That futile and flimsy tactic was appropriately led by one of the Senate’s most strident partisans – not to mention a man of unbridled arrogance – Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal. It was a doomed-to-fail inappropriate motion and he knew it. He did get a resounding cheer from the protestors in the audience, so I guess you can say he achieved his narrow(minded) objective.
Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse came equipped with a series of graphics to bolster his case that the worst thing that can happen to America is to have Republicans on the Supreme Court. His attack on what he called “the Republican five” revealed his partisan belief that only Democrats should sit on the Court – and never in the minority. His series of graphic placards were dutifully raised one-by-one behind the senator – choreographed to coincide with key moments in Whitehouse’s harangue. Unfortunately for Whitehouse the camera remained fixed on his face with barely a peripheral hint of the action behind him.
Democrats complained like soldiers in a mess hall about not having all the documentation they requested to better analyze the minutia of Kavanaugh’s extensive political and judicial activities. The fact that they had been provided with almost half a million documents – more material than provided by the previous five Supreme Court nominees combined – made no difference. I was a bit disappointed that Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley did not ask his Democrat colleagues exactly how many of the half million documents did they actually read. There should have been a quiz.
Democrats complained even though they well knew that documents in question – communications between a President and his lawyer — are both privileged and matters of national security. Such documents are never surrendered. Furthermore, that body of documents would provide very little insight to Kavanaugh’s judicial philosophy and record. That can be clearly discerned within those half million documents that have been provided. What the Democrats really wanted was another political pond for yet another political fishing expedition in the hopes of catching information they could use or distort for political advantage.
Since the only purpose of the first day was to allow senators to bellow and bloviate, Kavanaugh was more audience than participant – sitting there poker-faced, with neither smiles nor frowns as hints of his reaction. He appeared to be occasionally taking notes but maybe was just doodling. And why not? His character, opinions and judicial record were not on the agenda on the opening day.
Of course, there was really no need for the Democrat members of the Committee to deal with issues related to Kavanaugh. After all, they had all already determined to cast “no” votes no matter what was said in the days of hearings – some made that determination even before Kavanaugh was nominated by the President. Their only interest was to hope and pray – and distort information – in a desperate attempt to derail the nomination.
Desperation was evident in every speech as one Democrat after another painted the most Draconian picture of what would happen if Kavanaugh were to be confirmed. Roe v. Wade would be overturned for sure, they argued – even though the chance of that happening is unlikely in the foreseeable future. Gay marriage would be outlawed. Not a chance. And there was their evergreen favorite that corporations would take over America – a longstanding repetitious scare-mongering tactic that never seems to come to fruition.
Democrats even argued that the Kavanaugh nomination should be withdrawn because, they say, Senate Republicans “stole” the high court seat from Merrick Garland. It was not stolen. For sure, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell used his political power to postpone replacing the late Antonin Scalia until after the next administration – and McConnell’s decision paid off when Trump won the presidency. McConnell did nothing illegal. He did not even violate Senate rules. Yes, it was a political gambit but, after all, the profession is referred to as … politics. And furthermore, what relevance does that past gripe have to do with the Kavanaugh hearings? Are they suggesting that Trump should appoint Garland?
Apparently, the Democrats’ most powerful irrelevant argument was that no one should be nominated or seated on the Supreme Court until after the November election – and if the Democrats secured the Senate majority, they would argue that no appointment or confirmation should take place until after the inauguration of the new Congress so that the can block it. It is a form of the McConnell gambit that they claim to hate. It will not work because it is most likely that Kavanaugh will be sitting on the Supreme Court by election day – and certainly by January of 2019 when the new Congress takes over.
In a variation on the same theme, Democrats argued that no Trump appointment should be considered until Special Counsel Robert Mueller completed his investigation and filed his report. That is a rather bizarre request coming from the same Democrats who have been predicting that the Mueller investigation could go on for several years.
Democrats would be very happy to leave the seat vacant because they know that 4-to-4 ties will not overturn those appellate cases decided by the most liberal judges. That would leave in place many of those egregious decisions coming out of the Ninth Judicial District on the west coast – cases routinely overturned by the more Constitution-conscious Supreme Court.
Many commentators and pundits will offer their description of the proceedings on that first day of the Kavanaugh hearing – as did I — but no one could have better, albeit unintentionally, captured the Democrats performance than William Shakespeare. As he wrote in Macbeth, one can imagine a Democratic Party:
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in economics, public policy and politics. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, as well as the White House. He has testified as an expert witness before legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress, and lectured at major colleges and universities. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.