As an ambitious young senator with plans for the future, Young Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, has a brand to protect. In brief, Young Ben Sasse's brand is that we all should love each other more, send our kids to dairy-farm boot camp, and, by all means, don't take the politics that are inextricably bound up in our politics as seriously as we take our bowling leagues and our parent-teacher conferences. This, to Young Ben Sasse, is especially true of those politics inextricably bound up in the governing of the nation. If this sounds ridiculous to you, congratulations on passing ninth grade civics.
So, in the interest of protecting not only his brand, but also his plans for the future, Young Ben Sasse got up on the Senate floor Wednesday night and apparently delivered a lachrymose address on the terrible time it is these days in Washington, in which good people like Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and her accused attempted rapist are being ground up in the politics of our politics. From Talking Points Memo:
"I'm here to talk about the false choice that is being repeated hour after hour after hour on television that this confirmation vote about one vacant seat on the Supreme Court, in that vote we are somehow going to be making a giant binary choice about the much broader issue of whether we do or do not care about women. That is simply not true."
If you don't believe him, ask any one of the 11 other Republican men on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which never has had a Republican woman on it. Ever.
But Young Ben Sasse would like you to know that he tried his absolute hardest, and thats all that matters now.
"I urged the president to nominate a woman... Part of my argument then was that the very important #MeToo movement was also very new and that this Senate is not at all well prepared to handle allegations of sexual harassment and assault that might have come forward."
Especially not the 11 Republican men on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which never has had a Republican woman on it, ever. And, in passing, isn't Young Ben Sasse a very smart young Ben Sasse?
"In the interest of cautious prudence I urged a different path than the one that was chosen."
Not merely prudence, mind you, but cautious prudence, which is a more important kind of prudence because adjectives. And this cautious prudence has forced Young Ben Sasse to doubt the good faith of the president*, with whom he has voted a mere 95 percent of the time.
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"We all know that the President cannot lead us through this time. We know that he's dispositionally unable to restrain his impulse to divide us."
The president*, of course, continues to ignore Young Ben Sasse and his cautious prudence, and he nominated Brett Kavanaugh anyway, and I will bet a shiny buffalo nickel that Young Ben Sasse's cautious prudence will force him to vote for the president*'s nominee, but that he will feel really, really conflicted about it. He might even take a few seconds to think about his vote, but only if he has to stifle a sneeze. And thus will end the Sorrowful Mysteries of Young Ben Sasse in this matter. Is this sufficiently nauseating for us yet? Given the choice between Young Ben Sasse and his cautious prudence and Mitch McConnell's outright cynicism and bulldozer politics, I'll take the latter every time, because at the very least it is free from what Mr. Lincoln once called "the base alloy of hypocrisy."
Not that it will matter much one way or the other, but Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont is regularly now bringing to the electric Twitter machine evidence that Kavanaugh hedged, fudged, and prevaricated on matters beyond his high school boofing expeditions. On Thursday morning, for example, Leahy tweeted out an email from Kavanaugh's time in the Avignon Presidency, in which the nominee seems to be coaching administration personnel on how to testify about torturing people without mentioning, you know, torture. Once again, we are presented with proof that Brett Kavanaugh is likely to be a Supreme Court justice without ever having been a lawyer who actually practiced law.
The sham FBI investigation has finished its exercise in shamitude and the results, as Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow point out (again) in The New Yorker, are as expected.
Kavanaugh and thirteen other Georgetown Prep boys described themselves in their high-school yearbook as "Renate Alumnius," which other classmates have told the Times was a crude sexual boast. During his Senate hearing, Kavanaugh said that the reference was an endearment, saying, "She was a great friend of ours. We—a bunch of us went to dances with her. She hung out with us as a group." He said that a "media circus that has been generated by this, though, and reported that it referred to sex. It did not."
But the classmate who submitted the statement said that he heard Kavanaugh "talk about Renate many times," and that "the impression I formed at the time from listening to these conversations where Brett Kavanaugh was present was that Renate was the girl that everyone passed around for sex." The classmate said that "Brett Kavanaugh had made up a rhyme using the REE NATE pronunciation of Renate's name" and sang it in the hallways on the way to class. He recalled the rhyme going, "REE NATE, REE NATE, if you want a date, can't get one until late, and you wanna get laid, you can make it with REE NATE." He said that, while he might not be remembering the rhyme word-for-word, "the substance is 100 percent accurate." He added, "I thought that this was sickening at the time I heard it, and it left an indelible mark in my memory."
This was somebody that the FBI declined to interview.
For all my cynicism, I think this nomination may still be up in the air. However, one thing I do know is that Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation, if it happens, will not be the end of things, the way Clarence Thomas's confirmation obliterated Anita Hill's testimony from history. There's too much in Kavanaugh's background that's worth excavating, and some very serious people are on the case. This would include a new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, if baby Jeebus and Jerold Nadler are still my amigos. This, of course, will make Young Ben Sasse sad, but I guess we'll all have to live with that.