Passion and chaos as vote on Kavanaugh nears
“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.