DANIEL VAUGHAN: Vote now and end the Kavanaugh confirmation insanity

September 21, 2018

When I predicted that nomination hearings for future potential Supreme Court justices would only get worse in the years to come, I didn’t take into account that the currently brewing nomination had so much room to grow. I stand corrected.

A woman has accused a man nominated for the Supreme Court of sexual assault — and in what has only served to complicate the matter, miscellaneous allies of both the accuser and the accused are now coming forward to “help.”

When Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations first came to light, classmates of hers and those of nominee Brett Kavanaugh came forward in support of each of them. Ford’s classmates mostly just said they backed her, while Kavanaugh’s either said the same or, if they were named in Ford’s account, confirmed the judge’s denial.

But that all changed when Cristina King Miranda, who identified herself as Ford’s former classmate, published a viral social media post alleging that everyone in their school knew Kavanaugh had assaulted Ford and added, in no uncertain terms, that it was the talk of the school at the time.

Outlets like MSNBC reported this viral post uncritically.

But NPR decided to at least assign a reporter to the case, which made a massive difference. When the journalist questioned Miranda about her viral post, Miranda quickly denied it and said: “I can’t say that it did or didn’t.”

Miranda has since deleted the post. So much for that fake news.

Then, late Thursday evening, Ed Whelan — one of the most well-connected conservative lawyers in Washington, the President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and a friend of Kavanaugh — posted a series of viral tweets in defense of the Supreme Court nominee. Whelan theorized that Ford is confusing Kavanaugh with another man, who he named in the now-deleted thread.

Whelan’s theory was based on maps of the area, Ford’s descriptions of the house, real estate information from Zillow, a class yearbook, and social media account information. According to The Washington Post, “[Whelan] had told people around him that he had spent several days putting together the theory and thought it was more convincing than her story…”

Ford, predictably, denied Whelan’s assertions.

Even with that said, we have to take Whelan’s sudden and random burst of tweeting in support of Kavanaugh into account. Whelan is generally considered a somber and lucid legal thinker and activist on the right. It would be extremely odd for him to rattle off a crazy theory on Twitter without first heavily vetting it (although he has since apologized for what he called a “mistake” in publicly identifying by name and photo the man he alleges that Ford has confused with Kavanaugh).

Whelan could be tweeting his theory out as a trial balloon for Kavanaugh’s defense team. The Post story noted:

Kavanaugh and his allies have been privately discussing a defense that would not question whether an incident involving Ford happened, but instead would raise doubts that the attacker was Kavanaugh, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

This makes sense, especially since Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) suggested the same thing after Republicans interviewed Kavanaugh post-allegations. Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker also floated that theory earlier this week.

And it’s not necessarily a bad defense. The strategy provides a way for Kavanaugh’s team to attack the veracity of Ford’s claims without attacking Ford herself. Moreover, it allows Ford to maintain that she was assaulted while removing Kavanaugh from the picture.

Ford denies this, of course.

Still, Kavanaugh’s defense team may even be setting the table to bring in someone else to take the fall, namely someone like the man Whelan identified. If that man testifies that he is the one who committed the act, not Kavanaugh, and all other witnesses say Kavanaugh didn’t attend such an event, then Ford’s testimony is severely hampered.

It’s like expecting Matlock to have the big “ah-hah!” moment during the big reveal.

And this is where we stand with Kavanaugh’s nomination: there are dueling narratives from third parties for and against the nominee.

Whatever happens, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is right. We need to wrap this process up quickly, because letting it drag on is detrimental to the Senate, the Supreme Court, Ford, and Kavanaugh.

It’s in everyone’s best interests — except Democrats, of course — to have this process wrapped up by the end of the month. The sooner we hold the vote, the better. And the sooner we bring the Supreme Court back in line with the Founders’ vision, the sooner we can curtail future spectacles like the one we’re witnessing now.

The longer this drags on, the more it hampers everyone’s goals, including those of the #MeToo movement. We don’t want spectacles like this one to discourage other women from coming forward.

If Ford won’t testify, hold the vote on Kavanaugh immediately and end the spectacle. If Ford will testify, let her speak her peace, let Kavanaugh defend himself, and then hold the vote. Either way, dragging this on hurts everyone involved — especially average Americans, who deserve to have a Supreme Court like the one outlined in their Consitution.

The answer is simple: vote now and end the insanity.


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Daniel Vaughan

Daniel Vaughan is a columnist for the Conservative Institute and lawyer in Nashville, Tennessee. He has degrees from Middle Tennessee State University and Regent University School of Law. His work can be found on the Conservative Institute's website, or you can receive his columns and free weekly newsletter at The Beltway Outsiders. Connect with him on Twitter at @dvaughanCI.