This isn’t Brett Kavanaugh’s first American legitimacy crisis.
“It seems that you are the Zelig or Forrest Gump of Republican politics,” one Democratic senator said to him at his court of appeals confirmation hearing a decade ago. “You show up at every scene of the crime.”
Kavanaugh was there in 1998, pushing special prosecutor Kenneth Starr to get pornographic about Bill Clinton’s Oval Office intercourse.
“It is our job to make his pattern of revolting behavior clear,” Kavanaugh wrote to his boss. Later, in a memo to staff laying out the case against Clinton (excerpt: “The President also indicated through his actions that he wanted Ms. Lewinsky to orally stimulate his anus, which she did. Ms. Lewinsky also performed oral sex on the President”), Kavanaugh wrote that “unfortunately, the nature of the President’s denials requires that the contract evidence be set forth in graphic, even disconcerting, detail.”
Kavanaugh was there in 2000, helping the five conservatives on the Supreme Court find an excuse to give George W. Bush Florida’s electoral votes and with them the presidency. (A decision that the five justices incredibly, absurdly claimed was “limited to the present circumstances” and couldn’t be cited as precedent.)
Kavanaugh was there in 2005, delivering President George W. Bush the legislation to sign that kept severely brain-damaged Terri Schiavo alive against the wishes of her husband.
Kavanaugh was there on Thursday, crying just after Christine Blasey Ford had testified calmly and credibly for hours about being sexually assaulted by him while they were both in high school about how he was the real victim here, of a scheme for “revenge on behalf of the Clintons.” (That came three weeks after he’d told senators that “the Supreme Court must never be viewed as a partisan institution.”)
As Alexis Grenell wrote for The News, Kavanaugh was using the DARVO approach — Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender — identified by research psychologist Jennifer Freyd after the Anita Hill hearing.
Friday, the all-male Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to send Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Senate floor before one of them, Sen. Jeff Flake, said he wanted to give the FBI a week to investigate, suggesting he could vote no and possibly derail the nomination otherwise.
Flake’s move came a day after Kavanaugh had dodged calls from Democratic senators to request an FBI investigation into the supposedly false claims he said had ruined his good name.
Unless the feds somehow find a smoking gun decades later about the assault Ford vividly remembers it looks like Zelig Kavanaugh will be there once again, on the Supreme Court when it rules on President Trump’s looming decision to kill Robert Mueller’s ongoing probe of Trump.
And on abortion rights, and on everything for decades to come.
America has survived an awful lot of crises of confidence since 1988, just after Kavanaugh ended his frat-house college years and the last time a Republican won the popular vote in a presidential election without an incumbent running.
The only institutions most of us retain confidence in are armed state force — with 74% very or mostly confident in the military, according to Gallup, and the police (54%) — and small business.
Meantime, confidence has plunged from 59% to 29% for public schools, 59% to 38% for organized religion, 36% to 23% for newspapers.
From 35% to 9% for the Congress that’s close to consenting on Kavanaugh’s lifetime elevation to the Supreme Court that just 36% of Americans retain confidence in — down 20 points over those 30 years.
I don’t know how many more crises of confidence we skate past. I fear Kavanaugh will keep showing up at them.