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 HarrisEight Democratic presidential hopefuls to appear in CNN climate town hall Biden, Buttigieg bypassing Democratic delegate meeting: report The Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters MORE (D-Calif.) and Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyAppropriators warn White House against clawing back foreign aid House panel investigating decision to resume federal executions Graham moves controversial asylum bill through panel; Democrats charge he's broken the rules 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 FeinsteinTrump administration urges Congress to reauthorize NSA surveillance program The Hill's Morning Report - More talk on guns; many questions on Epstein's death Juan Williams: We need a backlash against Big Tech 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 Reid2020 Democrats fight to claim Obama's mantle on health care Reid says he wishes Franken would run for Senate again Panel: How Biden's gaffes could cost him against Trump MORE (D-Nev.), or former Senator Joe BidenJoe BidenEight Democratic presidential hopefuls to appear in CNN climate town hall Hill Reporter Rafael Bernal: Biden tries to salvage Latino Support Biden, Buttigieg bypassing Democratic delegate meeting: report 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 FlakeArpaio considering running for former sheriff job after Trump pardon Overnight Energy: Warren edges past Sanders in poll of climate-focused voters | Carbon tax shows new signs of life | Greens fuming at Trump plans for development at Bears Ears monument Carbon tax shows new signs of life in Congress 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 GrahamPelosi warns Mnuchin to stop 'illegal' .3B cut to foreign aid Graham warns Trump on Taliban deal in Afghanistan: Learn from 'Obama's mistakes' Appropriators warn White House against clawing back foreign aid 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 CollinsCook Political Report moves Susan Collins Senate race to 'toss up' The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Trump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel move MORE (R-Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe Hill's Morning Report - Progressives, centrists clash in lively Democratic debate Senate braces for brawl over Trump's spy chief Congress kicks bipartisan energy innovation into higher gear 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.