Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley have been transparently reprehensible in their rush to “plow right through” the confirmation process and place a scandal-plagued nominee on the Supreme Court. But the over-the-top partisanship of McConnell, Grassley and the Republican men who sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee has been matched — and often exceeded — by the cruel-and-unusual advocacy for Judge Brett Kavanaugh that’s coming from the Republicans who seek to replace Democratic women in the U.S. Senate.
Congressman Kevin Cramer, the Republican nominee for the Senate in North Dakota, dismissed Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that she was sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh as “absurd.” Why? “These are teenagers who evidently were drunk, according to her own statement,” Cramer asserted. Asked to clarify, the Republican who is challenging Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp claimed that “nothing evidently happened” and added: “My point is that there was no type of intercourse or anything like that. That was my point, that nothing happened in terms of a sexual event, um, beyond, obviously, the attack.”
At another point, Cramer asked with regard to the charges against nominee Kavanaugh: “Even if it’s all true, does it disqualify him?”
Cramer is not the only GOP challenger to a Democratic senator who has been more vehement in advocating for Kavanaugh than not just the Democrats in the Senate but the more thoughtful Republicans. Though he admitted that he had seen only snippets of Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee session at which Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh testified, Missouri Senate candidate Josh Hawley dismissed the session (which Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia, called “very compelling” and “riveting”) as “truly a circus.” The man who is challenging Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill rejected concerns about Kavanaugh by casually claiming that Democrats had “launched an ambush on a good man.”
But at least Hawley kept campaigning in Missouri.
Wisconsin Republican Senate candidate Leah Vukmir flew to Washington on the eve of Thursday’s hearing and, before either Dr. Ford or Kavanaugh had testified, joined a rally calling for rapid confirmation of the nominee. The woman who is challenging Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin dismissed serious concerns about the judge’s past as “uncorroborated attacks on Judge Kavanaugh being irresponsibly published by the Fake News media.” Vukmir described sincere warnings against making a rush to judgment as “the Democrat delay circus” and claimed that “what has become clear is that the Far Left is engaged in an all-out, no-holds-barred, last-minute character assassination, rather than responsibly vetting and filling a seat on the Supreme Court.”
Before she had heard from Dr. Ford, Vukmir said: “Democrats need to stop the political posturing, and hold a vote this week on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.”
Senators swear an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” and to “bear true faith and allegiance to the same.” As part of that oath, senators commit themselves to maintaining a system of checks and balances that requires them to take seriously a duty to provide advice and consent regarding judicial nominations.
Like Cramer and Hawley, Leah Vukmir has signaled that she has no more interest in upholding that oath than do Grassley and McConnell.
John Nichols is associate editor of The Capital Times. firstname.lastname@example.org and @NicholsUprising.
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