Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

I mentioned that there were some unalloyed benefits of the entire Brett Kavanaugh debacle.

There are two immediate benefits that come to mind, first, this spectacle has reminded people how hapless/complicit that Joe Biden was in the confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas 25 years ago:

In the past week, it’s been hard to flip on cable news without hearing the name Anita Hill. And that’s not good for Joe Biden, who’s thinking of running for president in 2020.

“This is going to educate who is under the age of 35 and may not have grown up knowing Joe Biden’s role in all of this,” said a Democratic strategist who requested anonymity to speak candidly.

It’s been 27 years since the law professor electrified the nation with her testimony about the sexual harassment she faced from Clarence Thomas, who was then up for confirmation to the Supreme Court.

That hearing was widely considered a disaster, a textbook case of how not to treat a woman who comes forward. Republican senators went after Hill and tried to make her seem like a liar, a mentally ill person and a spiteful jilted lover. But Democrats held the majority at the time, and Biden, then a senator from Delaware, was the chairman of Senate Judiciary Committee and, more than anyone else, could determine the direction and parameters of the discussion.


In 1991, most significantly, Biden did not call three other witnesses to testify who could have strengthened Hill’s allegations. But in other ways, too, Hill said she felt like she was left out to dry, without an ally on the committee.

“Most evident from the televised Judiciary Committee hearings was the fact that I sat in that hearing room without a patron on the panel. That image still resonates,” she wrote in a 1995 essay.

From the beginning, Biden said he recognized that Hill’s allegations against Thomas were “a giant incendiary bomb.” But he didn’t act like they were, according to Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson, who wrote Strange Justice, a thorough book about the Thomas confirmation battle.

This is good because if 2016 taught us anything, it is that septuagenarian defenders of the status quo are not good news for the party or the country.

Even if you want a centrist squish, it’s clear that we need someone who can credibly present themselves as an agent of change.

The other good news is that Susan Collins has finally been forced to reveal that her moderation is a myth, because when the vote is important and close, she will always vote with Republicans:

The campaign has also substantially weakened Collins. Recent polling from Public Policy Polling puts Collins’ approval underwater (35 percent approve, 48 percent disapprove) and finds that 48 percent of Mainers are opposed to confirming Kavanaugh. Even more importantly, the polling finds that 53 percent of Mainers say that Collins’ handling of the Kavanaugh nomination has made them view her less favorably, while only 19 percent view her more favorably. Last year, the same pollster found her at 59 percent approval and 34 percent disapproval. Just this week, Wall Street Journal polling suggests that support for Kavanaugh’s nomination has slipped dramatically, with 38 percent of registered voters opposing his nomination, a surge from 29 percent opposed a month ago (only 34 percent support him, with the remaining 28 percent undecided). Among women, 28 percent favor the nomination and 42 percent oppose.

It would be a very good thing if this ended her career.

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