Fate of Republican Party is tied to Kavanaugh — so don't flake on us

Time and again, with very few exceptions, Republicans in Congress have disappointed their own base and handed Democrats the initiative at every turn. Their constant folding will cost Republicans everything and gain them nothing from the voters, who handed the party its first unified control of Capitol Hill and the White House since 2005.

The tax law and confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch aside, the Republican leadership in Congress has left its core voters confused over what is the exact advantage of voting for its party. Sure, it keeps the Democrats from some levers of control. But ultimately, if Democrats are allowed to control how Congress operates, despite a Republican majority, is there a real difference between which party you vote for? Republicans have given in on so much under this administration, angering their base and creating a very real chance that, without a major win before midterms in November, these voters will just stay home.

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There is no better example than how they have handled the confirmation process for Brett Kavanaugh. Democrats have used it as a chance to grandstand, claiming that Kavanaugh plans to ban birth control and that he lied under oath about his time in the Bush administration. Even the Washington Post could barely stomach these fabrications, giving Senators Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisJoaquin Castro says brother Julián is running for president in 2020 McCaskil 'not sure' Sanders, Harris, Warren can win Missouri in 2020 Biden, Kamala Harris pose for photo together amid 2020 speculation MORE (D-Calif.) and Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyShutdown would affect 800K federal workers, Senate Dems say Oval Office clash ups chances of shutdown Senators dumbfounded by Trump vow to shut down government MORE (D-Vt.), the progenitors of these claims, a respective four and three pinocchios.

Meanwhile, the White House released a million pages of documents related to the nominee, which is more than five times as many released during the hearings for Justices Gorsuch and Elena Kagan. Democrats, in large part through their surrogates in the media, gained the public momentum against the nominee absent effective pushback from the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee or even the White House.

Throughout the confirmation process, Republicans were playing by Senate rules, while Democrats were playing for 2020. Then everything changed with the allegations by Christine Blasey Ford that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in 1982. Senator Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenate Dems urge Trump to continue nuclear arms control negotiations after treaty suspension Senate Intel leaders ask judge not to jail former aide amid leak investigation Dems demand Pompeo brief Congress on whether he discussed Assange with Ecuadorian official MORE (D-Calif.) sat on a letter from Ford for more than five weeks. Now her office is being investigated for possibly leaking it to the press. The allegations were held until the last minute and used in a way that was both the most damaging and prevented a chance for Kavanaugh to fight back effectively.

At every stage of the process, Democrats moved the goalposts. Much like Charlie Brown and the football, Republicans acted to accommodate and got more scorn in return. Democrats wanted a hearing. Republicans caved. Democrats wanted a delay. Republicans caved. Democrats demanded an FBI investigation, even after the Justice Department said it cannot judge allegations. Once again, Republicans caved.

Even when Republicans attempt to use precedents laid by Democrats like the “Biden Rule,” the destruction of the filibuster by former Senator Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidManchin’s likely senior role on key energy panel rankles progressives Water wars won’t be won on a battlefield Poll finds most Americans and most women don’t want Pelosi as Speaker MORE (D-Nev.), or former Senator Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenJoaquin Castro says brother Julián is running for president in 2020 Biden, Kamala Harris pose for photo together amid 2020 speculation O’Rourke rockets to second place on CNN analysts' 2020 Dem rankings, Harris remains first MORE (D-Del.) ruling out of FBI investigations for Supreme Court nominations, it is never good enough. Every time the Democrats get the “only thing” they ask for, they both use it against Republicans in the media and then demand more.

Senator Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeOvernight Defense: Senate bucks Trump with Yemen war vote, resolution calling crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi killing | House briefing on Saudi Arabia fails to move needle | Inhofe casts doubt on Space Force Flake asks Daily Show where he can get a blanket emblazoned with his 'meaningless tweets' McCaskill: 'Too many embarrassing uncles' in the Senate MORE (R-Ariz.) gave into the mob by calling for an FBI investigation. He was already declared a “rape apologist” by the Women’s March. Does anyone expect that this will not lead to more elevator screaming or chasing Republicans out of restaurants? Flake now admits he only called for the investigation because he is not running for another term. His spineless efforts are not even appreciated by the other side, as the goal posts are being moved again. Democrats are now calling the FBI investigation “too limited” in scope. A friend restating that she was not at the party Ford described was spun as “not refuting” the allegations.

Even more spurious claims, including those of gang rape and drugs by a client of lawyer Michael Avenatti, are not only clearly false but disgusting and partisan. Worse, the attorneys for Ford are setting this up as a political show trial. They have not handed over the therapist notes that her team claims exonerate her. Every person Ford claimed was at the party denies any knowledge of it. Her attorneys also never informed her that the Republicans offered to go to California to hear her testimony and instead claimed she needed a delay due to her “fear of flying” but she then flew to Washington. There is a reason why the burden of proof is on the accuser.

So far, the efforts are working. The Supreme Court is starting its next session with only eight justices, a direct result of the delay tactics. Full stop, Republicans need to fight back or lose everything. They may lose the confirmation vote. They may lose both houses of Congress next month. If they keep folding, they will lose the White House in two years. The Republican leadership needs to follow Senator Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate votes to end US support for Saudi war, bucking Trump Former FBI official says Mueller won’t be ‘colored by politics’ in Russia probe GOP-controlled Senate breaks with Trump on Saudi vote MORE (R-S.C.) on this. (Add that to the list of sentences I never expected to write.) This fight is not about Ford, or even about Judge Kavanaugh. As he said, it is about political power, “What you want to do is destroy this guy’s life, hold this seat open and hope you win in 2020. You’ve said that, not me!”

Republicans in Congress only have one way out, and that is through the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. A man is having his life destroyed due to allegations for which there are zero corroborating evidence. Kavanaugh will never get his reputation back, he knows his children will be mocked over this, and his family has had to watch smear after smear go unanswered. He fought back admirably Thursday. So did Senator Graham. Now everyone else must pick up the slack.

The future of the Supreme Court and the Republican Party are now in the hands of Senators Flake, Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Defense: Senate bucks Trump with Yemen war vote, resolution calling crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi killing | House briefing on Saudi Arabia fails to move needle | Inhofe casts doubt on Space Force House Dems follow Senate action with resolution to overturn IRS donor disclosure guidance Senate votes to overturn IRS guidance limiting donor disclosure MORE (R-Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiHouse funding bill scraps Arctic icebreaker program Senate advances Trump energy pick after Manchin flips The Senate must reject Bernard McNamee’s nomination for FERC MORE (R-Alaska). None are up for election this year, yet their actions will save or sink their Republican colleagues, judicial decisions for the next 40 years, and the mother of all precedents. The Democrats have been the mice that Jeff Flake gave a cookie to. If they can do this to an innocent man for a seat on the Supreme Court, what will they do for the Oval Office?

Kristin Tate is a libertarian writer and author of “How Do I Tax Thee? A Field Guide to the Great American Rip-Off.” Follow her on Twitter @KristinBTate.