HORIST: Collins gave Kavanaugh a stunning endorsement
If anyone doubts the prowess of Maine’s Republican Senator Susan Collins as a politician, they obviously did not see her speech on the floor of the Senate.
She had announced that she would give her decision on the Kavanaugh confirmation vote in a three o’clock afternoon speech on the floor of the Senate. (I mention in the “afternoon” because senators were orating all through the night under the 30-hour rule).
Most observers – including this one – expected brief remarks to explain her decision. While she was non-committal at the time, it was expected that she would “reluctantly” vote in favor of confirmation. What actually happened took almost everyone by surprise.
To understand the importance and impact of her speech, we need to reflect on the situation she was facing. She has long been one of those so-called “moderate” legislators – willing to buck her party when she believed it was necessary. She is part of the pro-abortion coalition in the Senate – and does not share Kavanaugh’s pro-life beliefs. In that, she has been a bit of a heroine to the women on the left.
Collins is a woman who embraces the purposes of the #MeToo Movement – although not one of those who declare that any accusation by a woman must be prosecuted in the absence of evidence.
Collins’ time at the podium was after the only female Republican senator – Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski — had announced her decision to vote “no” on Kavanaugh. That gave rise to some hope on the left that Collins would follow suit.
Against all these seemingly insurmountable challenges, Collins took to the floor and for some 45 minutes gave a most impressive and detailed defense of the Kavanaugh appointment. Her speech-ending official announcement that she would vote in favor of confirmation was a mere afterthought. It did not take more than one minute into the speech to know how this movie was going to end.
Seated behind Collins were two pro-Kavanaugh female senators – Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia and Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi. The staging was obvious, but effective. You had three powerful women on screen as Collins defended and praised Kavanaugh as the ideal person to sit on the Supreme Court. The voices of women were being channeled and heard in a way not yet seen throughout the hearings. To some extent, Collins took the sting out of the fact that there were no women on the Republican side of the Judiciary Committee.
What Collins offered was a brilliant closing argument in a very controversial case. She meticulously reviewed Kavanaugh’s judicial record and credibly explained her belief that Kavanaugh would not simply overrule Roe v. Wade because it was settled law based on precedence.
Collins gave convincing examples of Kavanaugh’s support of women in court and in his own office. Kavanaugh had an amazingly unblemished adult record attested to by numerous background investigations and hundreds of men and women – Republican and Democrat – who have told of his high moral character and fairness. Collins echoed those sentiments.
Collins was most effective as she took each of the charges and criticisms leveled against Kavanaugh and debunked them with fact and logic. She did not claim to know what, if anything, had happened to Christine Blasey Ford, but rather stressed the utter lack of confirming evidence. Collins reminded her audience of the importance of the supposition of innocence until proven guilty.
As a constitutionalist, Collin argued that it would be wrong to set aside America’s Constitution, laws, judicial traditions and common sense fairness to achieve a political outcome – in this case to not consent to the Kavanaugh appointment.
Neither President Trump, Republican senators, nor all those other Kavanaugh supporters have presented a more detailed, more credible, more elegant or more convincing brief in support of Kavanaugh. It may have enraged the closed-minded in the streets, but the speech gave a positive foundation for those other 51 senators supporting Kavanaugh – and some comfort to those Americans who were not predisposed on the issue. To some degree, Collins undermined the credibility of the barrage of Draconian complaints and predictions coming from Democrats and the far-left activist.
No. Her’s was not a timid or defensive explanation of a difficult vote. Collins cleared the deck with a speech that will be long be remembered in the annals of legislative history.
Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in economics, public policy and political issues. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, and he has served as a consultant to the White House under Presidents Nixon and Reagan. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress and lectured at Harvard University, Northwestern University, Florida Atlantic University, Knox College and Hope College. 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.