If you looked at just the national news, there was no doubt that Lindsey Graham brought more shame on himself than any other Republican during the hearing into Christine Blasey Ford’s claim that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school. The only question was which moment was the most shameful.
You could make an argument for his Trumpian tweetstorm on Wednesday, in which he railed about a “total collapse” of the confirmation process. Apparently Graham forgot that he refused to even give Merrick Garland a hearing in 2016 while praising him to the heavens.
Or his tirade the following day, when he loudly accused Democrats of engaging in an “unethical sham” simply for requesting a FBI investigation into Ford’s claims. Watch here.
Or later that night on “Hannity,” when he suggested that Blasey Ford was “destroying Judge Kavanaugh’s life.” Watch here.
But it turns out one other set of Republicans found a way to outdo Graham in the shame department. Namely, the Alabama Republican Party.
Most of the people who were still on the fence about Kavanaugh came off the fence after Thursday’s hearing. Among them was Alabama’s junior Senator, Doug Jones. He announced on Thursday night that he will vote against Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Anyone who watched that hearing could not have concluded otherwise. Blasey Ford was calm and composed throughout, and held up very well under questioning from the GOP’s proxy prosecutor, Rachel Mitchell–an observation shared by many of the prosecutors who watched Blasey Ford’s testimony. As a former federal prosecutor himself, Jones knows something about evaluating the credibility of witnesses.
Moreover, she has spent most of her professional life studying the impact sexual assault has on victims, so she was able to describe from personal and professional experience why she waited so long to come forward.
Kavanaugh, on the other hand, raised very serious questions about whether he had the temperament to serve on any court, let alone the Supreme Court. In a sane world, blaming the maelstrom he faces on “the revenge of the Clintons” would have spelled finis to his nomination, even without any sexual assault allegations.
Combined with the fact that the Republicans were prepared to ram this nomination through even in the face of such serious charges, Jones apparently concluded that he could not credibly vote to confirm Kavanaugh. The Alabama GOP apparently isn’t of the same mind.
Party chairwoman–excuse me, chairman–Terry Lathan rushed out with a burning statement denouncing Jones’ stand, and warned him that he will pay dearly for it in 2020.
Apparently Lathan and her colleagues forget the very reason Jones is in the Senate in the first place. He won a special election for the Senate seat of now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in the process derailing what was supposed to be a coronation for the former Republican state chief justice, Roy Moore.
However, Moore’s campaign imploded amid very credible allegations that he molested women and teenage girls and tried to get dates with girls young enough to be his daughters. For the most part, his defense seemed to amount to waving his arms and screaming “fake news!” and “politically motivated!”
That seemed to be enough for most of Alabama’s GOP luminaries. It seemed that they were tripping all over themselves to shame themselves and their state. For instance, at least two county GOP chairs were willing to support Moore even if his accusers were telling the truth. The rot extended all the way to Governor Kay Ivey, who stated she would vote for Moore even though she believed his accusers–because of the Supreme Court. Watch here.
Moore’s response, for the most part, was to remind voters that he was one million percent pro-life, while Jones wasn’t. This apparent effort to shame social conservatives into staying with Moore didn’t work. Jones won by almost 22,000 votes.
So for the second time in almost a year, the Alabama GOP is willing to go all-in for a guy who has been credibly accused of sexual assault, and whose defense seems to amount to pure shrill. Obviously, Lathan and her friends are really slow learners.
Lathan seems to think that Jones didn’t have the guts to break with his fellow Democrats, and instead stand with “the majority of Alabamians” who supposedly want Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. All things considered, though, Jones’ decision is as far from being cowardly as you can get.
Jones already knew he would have a huge target on his back in 2020. He represents a state that voted for Donald Trump by a punishing 62-34 margin over Hillary Clinton. It’s also one of the few states where Trump still walks on water. According to Morning Consult, 63 percent of Alabamians approve of Trump’s performance–his third-best state-level approval rating in the country. He would have had an uphill battle for a full term in any event simply because he has a “D” next to his name.
Lathan is correct that Jones has a duty to the people of Alabama. But he also has a duty to his country–and part of that duty includes not bringing shame and disgrace upon his office. Giving sanction to this attempt to ram Kavanaugh through without a credible investigation of such serious charges would have done both. When you’re dealing with a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, the chances of getting a do-over are somewhere between slim and none.
When all is said and done, Jones’ decision to oppose Kavanaugh ought to stand as an act of true political courage. And when all is said and done, the Alabama GOP will have once again been exposed for bringing shame and disgrace upon itself and the state of Alabama.
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