July 10, 2018

Will attacking Kavanaugh help or hurt Democrats in the fall elections?

It's at least complicated, and I can clearly see the motivation of conservatives to say Democrats are better off not fighting the ostensibly well-qualified nominee. It's easy to warn that they'll only hurt themselves. The effort to make Kavanaugh look like a right-wing ideologue will make them look like extreme leftists who don't care how a court is supposed to work.

I don't know if that might be close to what Democrats are admitting to themselves privately, but I'm seeing public expression of the idea that it's to the Democrats' advantage to fight Kavanaugh. From The Intercept:
Chuck Schumer is warning Democrats in the chamber that if they don’t put up a brutal fight over the next Supreme Court justice, there will be hell to pay from the Democratic base, according to senior Senate aides briefed on Schumer’s message....

Democratic senators and activists gathered outside the Supreme Court Monday night to pledge a willingness to fight the nominee. “Are you ready for a fight? Are you ready to defend Roe versus Wade?” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., asked the crowd of hundreds. Blumenthal, Warren, and Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and Jeff Merkley of Oregon joined Sanders at the court.
Just because he knows the "base" demands a brutal fight doesn't mean he believes it will put the party in better shape for the fall elections.

Maybe he intends to "pay hell." Don't the Democrats want the other party to look crazy and irresponsible? I'm going to predict that these early gestures about fighting are a sop to the base, and that when it comes to the hearings the Democrats will tone it down to the usual passionate statements about the importance of preserving the constitutional rights they like and expressions of concern that Kavanaugh isn't sufficiency forthright answering specific question. That is, the usual theater.

79 comments:

richard mcenroe said...

The Democrats need to attack Kavanaugh with all the rage and fury in their heart if the GOP wave is to succeed.

Rory said...

The idea is to whip up the frenzy first, then bring in the scandal to try to push him out the door.

Gahrie said...

Don't the Democrats want the other party to look crazy and irresponsible?

No..they want the Republicans to look sexist, racist, homophobic and evil. As usual.

The Republicans think the Democrats are crazy and irresponsible, but the Democrats are actually racist, sexist and evil.

Mike Sylwester said...

I'm waiting for the racism accusations.

The Democrats will argue that the Supreme Court should have more colored people -- and Kavanaugh is not a colored person.

Plus, some female clerk will accuse him of sexual harassment.

These arguments will cause Democrats to oppose the nomination.

The arguments will be laughed at by everyone else.

Mike Sylwester said...

Correction to my comment at 8:55 PM

I meant to write People of Color.

Please make that mental adjustment as you consider that comment.

Jon Ericson said...

Did you go to Yale Law School? Prove you're an asshole. Please sign this.

George Spix said...

Another pratfall by the left, since this isn’t a problem as long as T is in charge. Remember when T grabbed a Bible and opened it the 2nd letter and said, “this is all that matters the rest is good Theater Right”? the evangelist nodded his head and grinned. That’s the free-will lesson in the Bible. You must permit great Evil in the world, like abortion and other acts you find abhorrent, so people can choose not to sin and be saved. If forced not to sin, there’s no salvation. Same goes for Charity. Forced charity means nothing. It’s also an argument for a generalized conscientious objector mechanism. Congress votes a list of items their constituents want to be able to wash their hands of just before the congressional election and puts the list on the IRS form. When checked the taxpayer gets a negative 1099 with their share of the total spent, abortion, save the whales, Iraq war, Border wall, etc. Using their share of actual spend doesn’t soil your hands because they shifted money.

Sebastian said...

Progs are beyond help or hurt. It's all rage, all the time now.

"I'm waiting for the racism accusations."

As a video posted on Powerline showed, young prog interviewees accused the nominee of being racist before Trump had made his pick.

Darrell said...

The Left B crazy. . .

Don't be a fuckhead and vote for a Democrat.

P.S. I'm the guy that cam up with the successful "Don't be a fuckhead and litter." campaign in the 1960s, as well as "Buckle up, motherfucker, buckle up!"

mockturtle said...

Outrage is the left's default setting so nothing will change.

Big Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Rory said...
The idea is to whip up the frenzy first, then bring in the scandal to try to push him out the door.


This sounds right to me. Earlier today I asked why Schumer's was telling the red state Dems senators to sacrifice themselves. The strategy didn't make sense to me because if they obstruct and lost those seats there will be more Republicans and an even more conservative nominee.

I think Rory has the answer. Get the Dems and media in a tizzy. Then if they can find something specific use that to push the "moderate" senators to vote against. The senators can say that was the final straw. I would voted for him but . . .

Scott said...

Chuck Schumer is as gutless as they come. And under what scenario would Roe v. Wade be overturned, ever? (If they're really scared about that, then I would encourage every Democrat couple to have as many abortions as possible, just in case.)

Political parties are about winning elections. Cults are about gratifying the slavish faithful. Democrats need to decide which type of institution they are.

traditionalguy said...

Talking about shows, the Trump Team put on a near perfect show in Kavenaugh's introduction last night. And today the guys qualifications were praised in print by everyybody that counts.The Desperate Dems have been defeated on this guys confirmation before they get started. And this Justice's persona will finish them off in the Senate hearings circus.

Saint Croix said...

Akhil Amar's op-ed in the NYT is pretty amazing.

"The nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be the next Supreme Court justice is President Trump’s finest hour, his classiest move."

Meanwhile, GQ says horseshit, and Slate says crap.

Big Mike said...

@Gahrie, not “but.” Use “and.”

Andrew said...

I know it would never happen, but I'd love for a nominee to go out there and be completely honest. "Roe v Wade was poorly decided, and I look forward to the opportunity to place it with Plessy v Ferguson on the dustbin of history." That kind of thing, just to have some fun.

pacwest said...

"Plus, some female clerk will accuse him of sexual harassment."

I would put the odds of this at 100%. The playbook is not only obvious, it is getting stale.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Democrats need to put their cards on the table and demand that Trump nominate someone who's not a Trump nominee.

Comanche Voter said...

What's with the "ostensibly" well qualified modifier Ms. Althouse. Don't credentials mean anything any more? But then Obama was "ostensibly" qualified with a Columbai undergraduate degree and a stint as the affirmative action totem Harvard Law Review President.

The Godfather said...

I don't see that the Democrats have a choice: They HAVE to go crazy about demonizing Kavanaugh, because their LEFT BASE demands it. They NEED the Left Base to come out in force in November. True, hysterical attacks on Kavanaugh may turn off some loyal Democrats, but the leadership will rely on the MSM to sell the line that Kavanaugh is EVIL.

The Republicans, on the other hand, also have a dilemma. How do they motivate their base in the Congressional elections? A lot of Trump's "surprise" support in 2016 came from voters who usually vote Democratic but were sold on Trump and Making America Great Again. Many of those folks wouldn't normally come out in a mid-term election, certainly not to vote for the Country Club candidates running on the Republican line for Congress. If I were such a Republican candidate, as I address my ball on the 14th tee I'd be praying that Nancy Pelosi succeeds in persuading the voters in my district that who gets elected to Congress will affect whether or not Kavanaugh gets confirmed.

Jack Wayne said...

I think the best that Schumer can hope for is to get a unanimous Democrat No vote. The Base will accept that they don’t have the votes to stop the nomination so long as all the Democrat votes are No. Heitcamp is a goner so it doesn’t matter if she votes No. Manchin may be a goner so get him to vote No. Get the goners to fall on their swords like the so-called pro-life Democrats did to pass Obamacare. Everything within the party, nothing outside the party, nothing against the party.

Unknown said...

The Democrats filibustered Gorsuch. They will filibuster kavenaugh. They are only hate at this point.

pacwest said...

"They NEED the Left Base to come out in force in November."

This.
All the MSM talk has been about Trump being to hold onto his (deplorable) base. As it turns out the Dems are the ones that need to dial it up to eleventy to get their base worked up. The left lives in some sort of Bizzaro world.

Paddy O said...

The Party who cried wolf.

It works for a little while, but "Liars are not believed even when they speak the truth."

Bay Area Guy said...

Here's a radical idea for Democrats:

1. Win the Presidency (i.e., majority of Electoral Votes)
2. Win a majority of Senate seats
3. Have President [XX] nominate a judge they like
4. Have the Senate confirm said judge

Not.that.difficult.

Mike Sylwester said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike Sylwester said...

Bay Area Guy at 9:33 PM
Here's a radical idea for Democrats: 1. Win the Presidency (i.e., majority of Electoral Votes) ....

The Democrats have a political strategy to flip the Rust Belt's under-employed White voters back to voting Democrat.

* Advocate the establishment of sanctuary cities for illegal aliens

* Make racism accusations against anyone who questions Democrat policies

* Prove that Trump colluded with Putin to win the 2016 election

* Convert the US economy to Socialism

* Bigger and better pensions for government workers

* Ban fracking and stop the construction of oil pipelines

Sebastian said...

@SC: "Akhil Amar's op-ed in the NYT is pretty amazing"

Yes. Which means he is Not Helping. For example:

"his powerful defense of presidential authority to oversee federal bureaucrats"

Heresy! The whole point of the CFPB was to shield it from oversight, so as to entrench prog rule deep in the deep state. But it confirms my sense that, however irritating Justice K may become with Kennedyesque rulings, he may at least take on the administrative state a bit.

"his skepticism about newfangled attacks on the property rights of criminal defendants"

Which progs should like, if they can dial down the outrage. But again, Amar is Not Helping.

Any other honest lefties left? Maybe Eisgruber at Princeton on a good day?

readering said...

Come on. McConnell established in 2016 it's all about Senate procedures.

Posture all you want. It's all about Senate procedures.

readering said...

You folks are going to be so sick of hearing "Merrick Garland."

MayBee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ken B said...

I hope they go full Kruschev-shoe-banging.

grimson said...

Here's a radical idea for Democrats . . .

I do wonder how Supreme Court appointments are going to work when the Presidency and Senate majority are held by opposing parties.

readering said...

Interesting article up on Slate (sorry don't know how to link using phone) arguing that Trump should have listened to McConnell in making his selection if he was thinking confirmation.

Ann Althouse said...

“What's with the "ostensibly" well qualified modifier Ms. Althouse. Don't credentials mean anything any more? But then Obama was "ostensibly" qualified with a Columbai undergraduate degree and a stint as the affirmative action totem Harvard Law Review President.”

It means that what’s there to be seen looks stellar, all the standard signs of merit, like Yale and clerkships and so forth. I don’t know what he really thinks about exercising judicial power. A smart conniver would leave no evidence of his intent to subvert the judiciary.

MayBee said...

I have no idea what "the base" is supposed to mean any more.

(reposted for weird autocorrect)

MayBee said...

Roe v Wade has destroyed the SCOTUS nomination/approval process.

pacwest said...

"You folks are going to be so sick of hearing "Merrick Garland.""

Who's that? Sounds like some sort of also ran to me.

Drago said...

readering: "You folks are going to be so sick of hearing "Merrick Garland."

Get with the program.

You folks are going to be so sick of hearing "XX".

FIFY

readering said...

Give it time.

robother said...

Hell to pay. Roe v Wade. The Republican SCOTUS will even go after Clark Griswold!

Drago said...

readering: "Give it time."

LOL

What the hell are you blabbering about?

What, the dems haven't already been talking about Merrick Garland non-stop for the last 2 years?

Hilarious.

You run with that readering.

TO THE RAMPARTS!! MERRICK GARLAND!! MERRICK GARLAND!!

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

I wonder if Maddow will find his ties to Russia?

Bay Area Guy said...

Who is Merrick Garland? Oh yeah, he's Miguel Estrada's long lost brother.

Balfegor said...

I think on balance, if Democrats can link the Supreme Court to Roe v. Wade, it will tend to be an asset to them. The population as a whole is generally more moderate on abortion than the courts are -- if it were subject to normal democratic politics the way it is in other countries, then like other countries we'd probably have abortion pretty freely available, albeit regulated, during the first trimester, and mostly unavailable thereafter other than in cases posing a danger to the health of the mother.

But I think the median voter's preference hierarchy is probably: 1. Middle ground, 2. Roe v. Wade, 3. Comprehensive ban. There's no path to (1) now that Roe v. Wade has deformed the politics around abortion. The risk of some states banning abortion comprehensively if Roe v. Wade is reversed (3) is nonzero. So for my imaginary median voter, the best viable option is (2), which helps Democrats on the margin.

In contrast, I think illegal immigration and gun control are big winners for Republicans. To the extent the Supreme Court fight distracts Democratic candidates from saying more stupid things about illegal immigrants, abolishing ICE, and banning guns, I think that also works to Republicans' disadvantage.

eric said...

For midterm elections, you need to energize your base.

Therefore, it'll be protest/outrage summer. No matter how radical Democrats may look, it doesn't matter. We have a very short memory, collectively, and the important thing is to get your base out to vote this November.

So the main question is, will their outrage/protest summer push more Democrats or Republicans to the polls?

walter said...

Blogger eric said...
For midterm elections, you need to energize your base.
--
..and donors

cyrus83 said...

The problem for the Democrats is that in 15 of the states with Senate elections this year, the Republicans have a bigger base (in terms of registered voters) than the Democrats do, and if the Republican base gets energized by a Borking, Democrats have 7 seats at risk in those 15 states (by contrast, only 1 Republican seat is located in a state that has a Democrat advantage).

Democrats really cannot afford to lose Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, or West Virginia, as the odds are the partisan leanings of those states will make it difficult to re-take those seats once lost, especially if the party base insists on hard-left candidates in those states.

I expect Trump is expecting and counting on a full-frontal assault by the Democrats and picked Kavanaugh for exactly that reason. In the unlikely event the Democrats successfully play the "have women claim sexual assault only now that the man has been nominated" card, the counter response is likely to be Barrett, who is...unlikely to be vulnerable to that particular attack.

rehajm said...

Ann is correct on the we don’t know how he’ll wield judicial power angle. Interestingly CNN has bern teeing up this notion that Trump wants Kavanaugh because he believes Presidents should be shelded from prosecution while in office. An ‘insurance policy’ of sorts for Trump once the lefties get around to prosecuting Trump for all his crimes and the supremes get involved in the sticky legal questions of prosscuting a sitting President.

Coming soon to confirmation hearings near you.

EDH said...

“I can clearly see the motivation of conservatives to say Democrats are better off not fighting the ostensibly well-qualified nominee.”

There goes Althouse again, using an acquiescence to rape metaphor to identify with her right wing hillbillies, only to reveal the sexist violence inherent in the system.

cubanbob said...

rehajm said...
Ann is correct on the we don’t know how he’ll wield judicial power angle. Interestingly CNN has bern teeing up this notion that Trump wants Kavanaugh because he believes Presidents should be shelded from prosecution while in office. An ‘insurance policy’ of sorts for Trump once the lefties get around to prosecuting Trump for all his crimes and the supremes get involved in the sticky legal questions of prosscuting a sitting President.

Coming soon to confirmation hearings near you"

The simple and correct response is for Congress to impeach and remove as per the Constitution. After the president has been removed prosecute the crimes. The CNN position that Justice Dept. should an independent branch of government not subject to control by Congress or the President. The AG as dictator.

Clyde said...

I saw Akhil Amar on Fox News yesterday talking about his article and expressing a bit of surprise at the negative pushback from the Left. I laughed at his naivete. He's probably about to get Dershowitzed.

readering said...

Patience.

gilbar said...

i think that Schumer has realized that the dems have no chance of retaking the senate; and isn't looking to win elections, or fire up the base... He's trying to woo doners

Rick said...

I'm waiting for the racism accusations.

The racism accusations will come but they'll be the "he doesn't support BLM so he's a racist" type which is only left-base feed. Democrats have already settled their public line of attack. Trump picked Kavanaugh because he already stated the President should not face lawsuits while in office.

Browndog said...

I do wonder how Supreme Court appointments are going to work when the Presidency and Senate majority are held by opposing parties.

If you are wondering if a Democrat Senate will confirm a Republican nominee going forward, That answer is obvious.

As I said before, liberals will only tolerate a system that does not yield them power for so long. If this system of government/elections no longer work for them, they will opt to destroy it.

Rick said...

cyrus83 said...
I expect Trump is expecting and counting on a full-frontal assault by the Democrats and picked Kavanaugh for exactly that reason.


If the Dem reaction was the primary consideration Trump would have picked Barrett.

Bad Lieutenant said...



There goes Althouse again, using an acquiescence to rape metaphor to identify with her right wing hillbillies, only to reveal the sexist violence inherent in the system.

7/11/18, 1:25 AM


Well, do the Ds want to sleep on the wet spot, or do they want to sleep on the wet spot while nursing a black eye? Maybe they can put some Merrick Garland on that.

Bad Lieutenant said...

readering said...
Patience.

7/11/18, 4:20 AM

No problem, we can't arrest you until you finish the truck bomb anyway. Then you can remind us about.Timothy McVeigh at your trial.

Brian said...

i think that Schumer has realized that the dems have no chance of retaking the senate; and isn't looking to win elections, or fire up the base... He's trying to woo doners

Ding ding ding. Correct answer.

How is Tester going to vote? How is McCaskill? How is Manchin?

They won't listen to Schumer telling them to fall on their swords for the good of the party. He knows it, but he can't tell them to fall on their sword, so he tells the donors he's telling them to fall on the sword in order for HIM to gain support from the base, i.e. $$$.

Hagar said...

How much has Schumer really "got" if McConnell is not willing to feed him much rope?

Michael K said...

I expect Trump is expecting and counting on a full-frontal assault by the Democrats and picked Kavanaugh for exactly that reason.

I disagree. He picked Kavanaugh as the least controversial. The Dims have to decide if they want to die on this hill today.

When RBG is gone, the obvious choice would be Barrett, far more controversial but the GOP Senate majority will be bigger.

The Dims have to think about his but I wonder if they are sane enough to do so.

Michael K said...

think about this.

Chuck said...

For decades, the 'Praetorian Guard' of the Democrats have been the handful of Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Leahy; Durbin; Schumer; and now Whitehouse; Booker; Harris; Hirono; Koons; Klobuchar; Blumenthal. Before them it was Kennedy, Biden, Metzenbaum, etc.

The Democrats have usually placed their most ardent liberal ideologues on Judiciary, with few (and perhaps dubious) exceptions; (Paul Simon, Howell Heflin, Robert Byrd, etc.)

I expect a long, hard, bitter, losing fight from the Democrats on this Court nomination.

Chuck said...

pacwest said...
"You folks are going to be so sick of hearing "Merrick Garland.""

Who's that? Sounds like some sort of also ran to me.


I don't blame them. Our side talks about Robert Bork. Same thing, only different. Every "Merrick Garland" mention should get a good Borking. Plus a Miguel Estrada.

Which ultimately ought to lead to a better discussion, between smart and well informed people about, "How'd we get here?" (In which the Democrats started most of the downward slide.)

Unknown said...

The democrat party stopped being sane when the filibustered Gorsuch.

Skippy Tisdale said...

“Are you ready for a fight? Are you ready to defend Roe versus Wade?”

What pathetic morons.

Martin said...

There are about 34 states electing Senators, and 435 Congressional Districts electing Representatives. and, down-ticket races that might be affected by turnout driven by the top of the ticket.... and Republican turnout that too-strident opposition (like, oh, crazy sexual allegations) to Kavanaugh may elicit. Then there are long-term versus short-term effects. Whose interests, how defined?

So, the question is almost nonsensical. It'll hurt some people in some places, help some people in others. It is sanctimonious for someone from Manhattan (i.e., Schumer) to lecture a Manchin or Tester that they have to go over the top in opposition--esp. as they are essential if Schumer has any chance of becoming Majority Leader. Of course, Schumer knows this and may even have pre-discussed what he was saying with them.

It's like nested Russian dolls, issue within issue, consideration within consideration, all the way down. The world is a complicated place, even something as simple as an American off-year election is way more complicated than we can really understand.

It'll be what it'll be. As usual, the best plan is to do what must be done and keep the rest of your powder dry.

Mike said...

You folks are going to be so sick of hearing "Merrick Garland."

Not me. It reminds me how Clinton could have had the opportunity to renominate him. It reminds me how utterly fair Mitch McConnel was to hold the nomination open, seeing as how all the smart people said she was going to win. It reminds me how often Republicans extend such olive branches, only to be rebuffed by petulant Democrats. Mitch’s was a gutsy move. It’s nice to hear Garland’s name and be reminded of those wise and fair days when VOTERS got to make the call on who appoints the judges.

southcentralpa said...

I don't know how much is intuitive v. calculating, but by nominating the least hard-core conservative, the incumbent President not only pressures all the Donk senators from Trump states, but once they lose and he gets another pick, the remaining Donks in the Senate will have used up their credibility and will get someone they REALLY don't like rammed down their throat.

[The "Notorious RBG" now becomes a medically interesting case: can spite really help keep one alive? Stay tuned ...]

readering said...

After 2 sets I expected an easy win for Federer.

Jim at said...

After 2 sets I expected an easy win for Federer.

5-7, 4-6, 11-13.

Well, at least you're consistent.

Michael McNeil said...

Correction to my comment at 8:55 PM
I meant to write People of Color.
Please make that mental adjustment as you consider that comment.


Instead of asking us all to look back through the thread to your previous posting, re-read and apply your suggested editing change, how about if you simply perform the Althouse-approved™ method for “editing” a previous posting: namely, delete it and repost.

Greg P said...

The Red State Democrat Senators are caught between Scylla and Charybdis, and have no good choices that I can see.

If they don't fight Kavanaugh, the base will be pissed and depressed, and a chunk of them won't show up and vote in November

If they do fight Kavanaugh, then they're saying they're not moderates, they're puppets of the Left. Which will cause moderate voters not to vote for them

Either way, they lose

Greg P said...

readering said...
You folks are going to be so sick of hearing "Merrick Garland."

Are you kidding? The mere mention of his name gives me my RDA of leftist tears.

Now, normal Americans are going to get sick and tired of it, and look at the people saying it as pathetic losers who can't grow up

But I'm ok with that, too

Greg P said...

Chuck said...
I don't blame them. Our side talks about Robert Bork. Same thing, only different. Every "Merrick Garland" mention should get a good Borking. Plus a Miguel Estrada.

Which ultimately ought to lead to a better discussion, between smart and well informed people about, "How'd we get here?" (In which the Democrats started most of the downward slide.)

No, the Democrats started ALL of the "downward slide"

"Senate confirms any well-qualified nominee": Nuked by Democrats at Bork hearings

"Senate minority doesn't abuse filibuster": Nuked by Democrats w/ Estrada

"Senate allows minority to filibuster": Nuked by Democrats, Dec 2013

Did the GOP return the favor? Of COURSE we did. That's the only rational response to someone changing the rules: make them pay, hard, for their new rules

How do we go back to the old rules? Simple

Step 1 is "Democrats lose every single benefit they got from violating the rules"

Let me know when that's happened

No, stopping them from further perverting the Constitution is not enough

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MB said...

Don't worry, Democrats will be fine. No matter what they do it will be portrayed as brave and necessary (or, if they go the other way, as wise and statespersonlike). They could shoot someone in the middle of the 5th Avenue and get away with it, because the press really likes them.