Claire McCaskill blames her midterm defeat on fellow Democrats’ Kavanaugh ‘spectacle’

December 5, 2018

Although Democrats made waves in the House of Representatives this November, their colleagues weren’t so lucky in the Senate, where Republicans picked up a net gain of two seats and maintained their majority. However, just two months earlier, Democrats were confident about their chances in the Senate, and the GOP trailed in several keys races across the country.

Then, the Kavanaugh hearings were held, and the Democrats’ “blue wave” looked increasingly like a blue bust. As a result, Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill (MO), who squandered her significant edge to an underdog Republican opponent, is now blaming her loss on her own party’s “11th-hour attempt to gut a guy,” which alienated voters and galvanized conservatives.

McCaskill’s blue bust

Like the rest of the Democratic Party, McCaskill voted against confirming Kavanaugh after allegations of sexual misconduct against the judge began surfacing in mid-September. Despite the Republican majority agreeing to reconvene the Senate Judiciary Committee to hear from one of Kavanaugh’s accusers, and subsequently bending to Democrat demands for a one-week FBI investigation into the matter, Kavanaugh was confirmed along strict partisan lines.

But McCaskill doesn’t think her refusal to confirm Kavanaugh cost her the Missouri Senate race. The lame-duck senator told NPR that “the spectacle” which preceded the confirmation vote is to blame for her defeat:

I don’t think my vote [against Kavanaugh] hurt me as much as the spectacle that occurred. There were mistakes made by my party in terms of how that was handled. I don’t think that communication [from Christine Blasey Ford] to the judiciary committee should have been kept private as long as it was. The FBI deals with a lot of confidential information, and that would have absolved [judiciary committee ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein] of the very real perception that this was an 11th-hour attempt to gut a guy.

Circus act

Even before Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations were suspiciously leaked to the public, Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings were characterized by the coarse behavior of Democratic senators who sought to undermine the process with “Spartacus moments” and rampant grandstanding. Committee proceedings were interrupted 60 times in the first minute alone, while leftist activists harangued Republican committee members, dressing in costumes inspired by Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale and mailing thousands of coat hangers to Republican swing voters like Sen. Susan Collins (Maine).

But “the spectacle” which McCaskill so regrets was just getting started. Despite receiving a letter from Ford in August outlining a 36-year-old allegation of sexual assault, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) kept the accusations under wraps until they could best serve the party’s interests.

That meant waiting until the 11th hour, holding out in hopes of delaying Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote until Democrats had a chance to retake the Senate and block the president’s Supreme Court nominations. Ford repeatedly missed deadlines and rescheduled her testimony, while several new accusers were brought forward with more flimsy and uncorroborated claims.

While Kavanaugh’s second round of questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee was being negotiated in earnest, CNN polling figures showed that McCaskill enjoyed a close but comfortable four-point lead over her opponent, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley. But the momentum was soon to flip.

After watching Democratic senators grill Kavanaugh for a grueling five hours while treating his accuser with kid gloves, and after learning that Dr. Ford’s allegations were contradicted or denied by her own named witnesses, McCaskill started to lose her edge. In a judiciary committee summary published Nov. 2, Americans learned that investigators failed to uncover “any evidence to substantiate or corroborate any of the allegations” against Kavanaugh.

In fact, it became transparently obvious that the country was witnessing an organized smear campaign aimed at destroying Kavanaugh’s reputation. One of Kavanaugh’s peripheral accusers admitted to fabricating her claims to “get attention,” and another was alleged to have “criminally conspired to make materially false statements to the Committee and obstruct the Committee’s investigation.”

McCaskill could do nothing but helplessly watch as her once-promising lead diminished. By mid-October, polls gave a narrow, 47-to-46 point lead to Hawley.

Pointing a finger

In the end, the state attorney general surpassed the most optimistic predictions and defeated McCaskill by 6 points. Though she points a finger squarely at the Democratic Party, McCaskill should audit her own voting record and endorsements before looking elsewhere.

During the Obama administration, the Missouri senator was a leading advocate of victimology lawfare which ignored the sanctity of due process rights. She supported laws like the Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA) which depend upon debunked social science statistics to obscure the line between accusation and guilt.

McCaskill repeatedly cited the discredited statistic that 1-in-5 women have been sexually assaulted while on college campuses, lending credence to the “Believe women” movement which devalues an impartial examination of facts in favor of honoring victims as “survivors” and accusers as heroes. The feminist senator supported legislation which would lower the evidentiary scales of justice to less than a preponderance when considering sexual assault claims.

Sen. McCaskill is right to blame her own party for her downfall. Democrats behaved despicably during the Kavanaugh hearings. But she can’t ignore her own role in creating the conditions that led to the Kavanaugh “spectacle” and the irony behind her political demise.


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Benjamin Baird

Benjamin Baird is a senior staff writer for the Conservative Institute. He is a veteran infantryman of Iraq and Afghanistan with over 1000 days in combat and holds a degree in Middle Eastern studies from the American Military University. Ben is Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and has written for dozens of conservative publications, including The Daily Caller, American Spectator, American Thinker, New English Review and Jewish News Syndicate.