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 Flake (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 Grassley (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 Graham (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 McConnell (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.

{mosads}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 Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Joe Manchin 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 Clinton 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 Lance (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 Faso (R-N.Y.) or Mike Coffman (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 McSally (R-Ariz.), Dean Heller (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 Klobuchar (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 Israel 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.

Tags America Amy Klobuchar Chuck Grassley Congress Dean Heller Election Government Heidi Heitkamp Hillary Clinton Jeff Flake Joe Donnelly Joe Manchin John Faso Leonard Lance Lindsey Graham Martha McSally Mike Coffman Mitch McConnell Republicans Steve Israel Supreme Court

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