When a Supreme Court seat is up for grabs, no one expects reason and cooler heads to win the day. But in this particular case, heads have become decidedly overheated, with emotion and activism driving the process.
The 11th-hour revelations of sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh from decades ago — exposed a week after hearings had completed — have cast a pall on the process, one that puts Democrats and Republicans into no-win situations.
This is now the judicial equivalent of a trade war: Regardless of whether or not he is confirmed, everyone loses.
Here’s an unemotional look at why.
This process has exposed just how useless the confirmation hearing process is. Democrats complained profusely about the lack of sufficient documents provided the committee, but what the public saw was a nominee who carefully did not answer most questions and a cadre of 2020 hopefuls in the Senate using the camera time to seize their supposed Spartacus moments.
We learned little about Kavanaugh the judge, and that hardly serves the public interest. Whether the perception is of Republican withholding or Democratic grandstanding (and, reverse that when the shoe’s been on the other foot), neither side looks particularly honest.
Neither side cares
Democrats seem more than willing to use the #MeToo climate to pressure Republicans into caving on Kavanaugh, hoping the mere specter of an allegation scares them off. That’s flawed for a few reasons.
For one, Republicans have demonstrated a lamentable lack of concern for either the optics or moral implications of sexual assault or harassment allegations against one of their own. Whether Roy Moore, Donald Trump or countless others, the party has shown little backbone beyond denouncing bad behavior that should otherwise be disqualifying. Growing a backbone now would be, yes, out of character, but also supremely dumb.
But Democrats too have let #MeToo down. If the priority had been justice for Christine Blasey Ford, Sen. Dianne Feinstein wouldn’t have waited months to disclose the letter she’d received from her with her Senate colleagues and federal law enforcement.
Both sides will set bad precedents
Both parties are at a dangerous crossroads. If, as Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono insists, having Ford testify under oath before the Senate counts as “re-victimizing” her, then asking basic questions about a 35-year-old incident involving a major political appointment is now out of bounds. That seems a high bar to clear.
On the other side, Trump is insisting, incorrectly, that the FBI cannot investigate this allegation. That only makes him and Republicans look scared, when they should be employing every means available to learn as much as possible.
Neither side should want to win this way
Republicans will have to defend Kavanaugh — and this allegation — forever. Like Anita Hill, Ford will always be an asterisk by his name. That’s incredibly unfair if the allegation is unfounded — but it doesn’t have to be true to be damaging for a long time.
Democrats shouldn’t want to thwart a seat this way, either. They can say self-righteously that the stakes are too high to play cleanly all they want, but even this looks historically craven.
Make no mistake, whatever the outcome, no one can win this mess. Least of all the American people.
S.E. Cupp is the host of “S.E. Cupp Unfiltered” on HLN. Email her at [email protected] .