Pas­sion and chaos as vote on Ka­vanaugh nears

Rotorua Daily Post - - OUR PEOPLE - USA

“This is what democ­racy looks like!” pro­test­ers shouted out­side the Supreme Court, voic­ing their op­po­si­tion to Brett Ka­vanaugh’s nom­i­na­tion to the high court but some­how speak­ing for ev­ery­one on ev­ery side on a day of pas­sion, chaos and con­se­quence.

Democ­racy yes­ter­day looked like — Sen­a­tors scur­ry­ing AWAY from the cam­era —, not their nat­u­ral state.

Sex­ual as­sault vic­tims pour­ing out their sto­ries in the halls of the Capi­tol and from the steps of the high court across the street.

“Con­firm Brett!” cries from mem­bers of Women for Ka­vanaugh out­side the of­fice of Sen­a­tor Jeff Flake, one of three Repub­li­cans and per­haps one wa­ver­ing Demo­crat who will de­ter­mine whether the judge ac­cused of sex­ual mis­con­duct will be­come a jus­tice.

“We be­lieve Chris­tine Ford” ban­ners, un­furled at a Se­nate of­fice build­ing where po­lice be­gan ar­rest­ing hun­dreds of pro­test­ers stag­ing a sit-in. Capi­tol Po­lice even­tu­ally ar­rested more than 300 peo­ple, in­clud­ing co­me­dian and ac­tress Amy Schumer.

Par­ti­san char­ac­ter­i­sa­tions of the FBI re­port on the ac­cu­sa­tions against Ka­vanaugh, so at odds that the ca­sual ob­server could not hope to divine the truth from lis­ten­ing to them.

“White­wash”, steamed Demo­cratic sen­a­tor Richard Blu­men­thal of Con­necti­cut. “A check-the-box scam.”

How­ever, Maine’s Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Su­san Collins, a cru­cial un­known vote, said: “It ap­pears to be a very thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

A round of Se­nate vot­ing is ex­pected to­day, with the fi­nal vote likely overnight. It had been a smooth process by Washington’s bumpy stan­dards un­til Chris­tine Blasey Ford, then other women, came for­ward with their ac­cu­sa­tions, set­ting up an epic hear­ing last week cen­tred on Ford’s pained re­count­ing of her al­le­ga­tion and Ka­vanaugh’s blis­ter­ing de­nials.

The pitched strug­gle over Ka­vanaugh re­flects the stakes. At 53, he is likely to serve on the court for decades if con­firmed. In the short term, he could pro­vide the fifth vote for a con­ser­va­tive ma­jor­ity on the nine-mem­ber court.

Late in the day, with Collins prais­ing the reach of the FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion and Flake in­di­cat­ing he had seen noth­ing in­crim­i­nat­ing in the re­sults, the pro-Ka­vanaugh forces ap­peared closer to the prize. But anger and frus­tra­tion knew no party on the eve of vot­ing.

“This is al­most rock bot­tom,” said Sen­a­tor Chuck Grass­ley of Iowa, the Repub­li­can who presided over last week’s hear­ing as chair­man of the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee.

It was a day when you could not tell who was win­ning by watch­ing them.

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