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GOP sacrifices women and House Republicans with Kavanaugh plan

GOP sacrifices women and House Republicans with Kavanaugh plan
© Anna Moneymaker

In a trench during a battle, surrounded by advancing belligerents, who would I want at my side, fighting to the bitter end?

A.) Senator Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake: Republican Party ‘is a frog slowly boiling in water’ Tim Scott: Stop giving court picks with 'questionable track records on race' a Senate vote Flake stands firm on sending a ‘message to the White House’ on Mueller MORE (R-Ariz.), whose anguished soul searching on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh suggests a genuine desire to do the right thing but a seeming inability to thrust the spear?

B.) Senator Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Health Care: House set to vote on bill targeting drug companies for overcharging Medicaid | Dems press Trump officials on pre-existing conditions | Tobacco giant invests .8B in Canadian marijuana grower House set to vote on bill cracking down on drug companies overcharging Medicaid Trump tells McConnell to let Senate vote on criminal justice reform MORE (R-Iowa), who might want to protest the appalling lack of gentlemanly process and the violations of the country club rules of engagement as the enemy storms the breach? (Reality check: This was never about Senate committee process. It’s about whether a man with a potential lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court assaulted a woman and subsequently lied.)

C.) Senator Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCongress digs in for prolonged Saudi battle Focus on Yemen, not the Saudi crown prince GOP tensions running high on criminal justice bill MORE (R-S.C.), who might lull the opposition into the trench as a purring kitten, only to spring like a bloodthirsty lion?

D.) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKey Senate Republican: Criminal justice reform needs more GOP support GOP tensions running high on criminal justice bill Trump flubs speech location at criminal justice conference MORE (R-Ky.), whose “Party First” doctrine engineered opposition to President Obama at all costs and who now seems willing to sacrifice the House to save the Senate?

Not McConnell. None of us would survive that guy.

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The New York Times reported on Sunday that McConnell and the Republicans have decided to muscle through this confirmation. The theory is that it will energize the Republican base in tight Senate races, forcing red state Democrats like Senators Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampSchumer walking tightrope with committee assignments Banking panel showcases 2020 Dems Trump to nominate former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as next EPA administrator MORE of North Dakota, Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellySchumer gets ready to go on the offensive Schumer walking tightrope with committee assignments 10 things we learned from the midterms MORE of Indiana, Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSchumer to Trump: Future infrastructure bill must combat climate change Overnight Energy: Senate confirms controversial energy pick | EPA plans rollback of Obama coal emissions rule | GOP donor gave Pruitt K for legal defense Senate confirms Trump’s controversial energy pick MORE of West Virginia and others to choose between their already nuclear energized Democratic base and a freshly recharged Republican base.

But, by their own admission, the party leadership recognizes the strategy as likely to seal the fate of House Republicans with large concentrations of moderate suburban women, particularly in the 23 House Republican districts that were carried by Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSantorum: Dems have a chance in 2020 if they pick someone ‘unexpected’ Trump should heed a 1974 warning penned by Bush NRCC breach exposes gaps 2 years after Russia hacks MORE in the 2016 election.

One Democratic candidate, Tom Malinowski, was first to test the theory. His campaign released a digital ad against Republican incumbent Leonard LanceLeonard LanceIncoming Dem lawmaker: Trump 'sympathizes' with leaders 'accused of moral transgressions' On The Money: Why the tax law failed to save the GOP majority | Grassley opts for Finance gavel, setting Graham up for Judiciary | Trump says China eager for trade deal | Facebook reeling after damning NYT report Tax law failed to save GOP majority MORE (R-N.J.) that featured the very words of Lance: “I think Judge Kavanaugh is a brilliant judge and I tend not to believe the charges.” If you’re Congressman Lance or John FasoJohn James FasoTax law failed to save GOP majority New York New Members 2019 McCarthy defeats Jordan for minority leader in 159-to-43 vote MORE (R-N.Y.) or Mike CoffmanMichael (Mike) Howard CoffmanGardner gets first Dem challenger for 2020 Senate race The 5 most competitive Senate races of 2020 10 things we learned from the midterms MORE (R-Colo.), you probably see the writing on the wall. It’s written by angry women, and men like me, who are revolted by the callous and immediate position of Republicans to “not believe” the charges.

Even in the Senate, the McConnell strategy cuts both ways. Sure, it builds pressure on some Senate Democrats in deep red states. But it might also backfire on Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyMaine’s 2nd District outcome proves value of ranked choice voting Arizona airport says Trump campaign owes K from October rally The 5 most competitive Senate races of 2020 MORE (R-Ariz.), Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerWhite House jumps into fight over energy subsidies One last fight for Sen. Orrin Hatch Trump threatens to cut federal incentives for GM’s electric cars MORE (R-Nevada) and other Republican Senate candidates in purple states. But, really, should we care if House Republicans have become collateral damage in the McConnell strategy? What about the deep wounds we inflict on women? And justice?

You could see Judge Kavanaugh slashing away during his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. He went from stiff upper lip to curled upper lip, foaming at Democrats through a frat boy snarl, interrupting them, mocking them and even snapping in response to a question from Senator Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharHillicon Valley: Huawei executive facing possible US fraud charges | Dem blames White House for failure of election security bill | FCC investigating wireless carriers over coverage data | Assange rejects deal to leave embassy Warner blames White House for election security bill not passing Congress Graham vows to push Trump’s AG pick through Judiciary Committee MORE (D-Minn.), asking her if she ever blacked out from drinking.

The judicial temperament we expect from Supreme Court justices was unmasked, and what we saw was the hardwiring of those “Westworld” robots run amuck. How could anyone expect fair treatment from Judge Kavanaugh on any Supreme Court case involving political issues such as voting rights, redistricting, campaign finance and more? I had the eerie sense that he’d replace the “Equal Justice Under the Law” engraving above the court’s doors with “What Goes Around Comes Around.”

Brett Kavanaugh may be on the ballot in the midterm elections. We’ll see then whether McConnell’s trench warfare strategy worked. But this is about so much more. It extends far beyond 2018 and plumbs to a deeper level. This is about the ability of Judge Kavanaugh to dispense justice wisely and fairly over a lifetime on the bench. It’s about how a society addresses the trauma of women that is caused by sexual assault. It’s about the message we send not just to our daughters, but to our sons.

This isn’t about political trench warfare. It’s about in what kind of country my two adult daughters live their lives and raise their families. I won’t allow them to become collateral damage in Mitch McConnell’s midterm turnout model. I’ll fight like hell for them. I’ll protect them first. Will you?

Steve IsraelSteven (Steve) J. IsraelA father and son unite the nation How Nancy Pelosi won more votes for Speaker than anyone expected GOP sits back and enjoys Dem fight over Pelosi MORE represented New York in Congress for 16 years. He served as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from 2011 to 2015. He is a novelist whose latest book is “Big Guns.” You can follow him on Twitter @RepSteveIsrael and on Facebook @RepSteveIsrael.