It’s hard to imagine Democrats winning the Senate considering tonight’s massive victories for Republicans, but the razor-thin margin in some of the races tells us one thing for certain: Their handling of the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation BEFORE the sexual assault accusations prevented them from taking control.
The Democrats’ antics lost them Heidi Heitkamp’s, Claire McCaskill’s, and Joe Donnelly’s seat. It kept Beto O’Rourke from pulling a huge upset in Texas. At the time of this article, Rick Scott and Martha McSally were looking strong in races that could have swung to Democrats if they didn’t do what they did to Kavanaugh.
We are all familiar with what happened. Now, imagine a different scenario. Imagine a completely different beginning to the Kavanaugh confirmation process. Senator Chuck Schumer comes out following President Trump’s announcement that he’d nominated Kavanaugh. Instead of instantly saying he’d fight confirmation within minutes of the announcement, imaging if Schumer came out and said, “Now the vetting process begins. We will wait to see the results of his background checks and questions posed by the Senate Judiciary Committee to determine if he is suitable for confirmation.”
Imagine if, instead of sending a ridiculous number of questions (Kavanaugh was sent more questions than every other Supreme Court Justice nominee COMBINED), the Democrats treated him with the same respect every previous nominee had received.
Imagine if they didn’t start the hearings with disruptions and childish antics. Imagine if Senators Kamala Harris and Cory “Spartacus” Booker used the Senate confirmation hearings as Senate confirmation hearings instead of platforms for them to launch their 2020 Presidential campaigns. Imagine if they were firm but fair in their questioning instead of instantly adversarial.
Now, imagine that they’re going through the process acting like civil Senators with all things seeming normal when BAM, the sexual assault allegations dropped. These allegations would have been brought to the attention of the entire Senate Judiciary Committee, at which point chairman Chuck Grassley would have been forced to launch a quiet but thorough investigation, likely calling on the FBI to find the accuser and gather whatever facts they could find about her story.
Once the accusations were made public (and yes, in this scenario, I think it’s very likely Christine Blasey Ford would have still come forward), the game is suddenly changed. Democratic Senators who had previously been cordial and professional could now go after Kavanaugh because of the credibility they’d built up in the beginning of the confirmation process.
Republicans still would have cried foul. They would have gone after Ford and any other accusers who stepped forward. But the real difference would be that they couldn’t point at the Democrats as trying to obstruct the process from the start. Instead, the Democrats could say, “Hey, we were giving him a chance and I’m sure he would have been confirmed but these allegations change the calculus. We must proceed cautiously.”
In this hypothetical set of scenarios, the Democrats would have looked like the good guys just doing their jobs instead of the bad guys that they proved themselves to be from beginning to end.
The lesson, which will not be learned by the Democrats, is that if they’d played fair, remained professional, and did their jobs, Schumer may have become the Senate Majority Leader. Instead, Democrats were just doing what Democrats do.