The fix was in Our view:

The Se­nate’s de­ci­sion to con­firm Ka­vanaugh to the Supreme Court wasn’t about the treat­ment of women or what kind of jus­tice he’ll be but raw pol­i­tics

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NEWS -

The re­port that re­ally mat­tered when it comes to the ques­tion of Judge Brett Ka­vanaugh’s con­fir­ma­tion to the Supreme Court came out Thurs­day morn­ing, but it wasn’t the prod­uct of the hasty and in­com­plete FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the sex­ual as­sault al­le­ga­tions against the judge. Sen. Su­san Collins of Maine may have spent 45 min­utes on the Se­nate floor dis­sect­ing its im­port in her fraught de­ci­sion to vote yes, but it wasn’t re­ally what turned the tide in Judge Ka­vanaugh’s fa­vor.

Rather, it was the re­port this week of a string of new polls show­ing sud­den gains for Repub­li­cans amid the Ka­vanaugh fight. An NPR/PBS News Hour/Marist poll shows a surge in Repub­li­can en­thu­si­asm for vot­ing in the midterm elec­tions next month, a shift so large that it has erased the en­ergy gap that has had Democrats an­tic­i­pat­ing a blue wave in No­vem­ber. Other polls in bat­tle­ground state Se­nate con­tests show good news for the GOP in­clud­ing a big swing to­ward North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s Repub­li­can chal­lenger and gains in In­di­ana, Mis­souri and Ten­nessee. Some polling mod­els sug­gest the gains are only ap­par­ent in the ag­gre­gate on the ques­tion of whether Repub­li­cans will re­tain con­trol of the Se­nate (which they have gen­er­ally been fa­vored to do, blue wave or not), but it is, af­ter all, the Se­nate that will de­cide the judge's fate. Mr. Ka­vanaugh’s nom­i­na­tion may re­main rel­a­tively un­pop­u­lar in the broader elec­torate, with more vot­ers op­pos­ing it than sup­port­ing it, but midterms are about turn­ing out the base, and the head­lines Thurs­day morn­ing gave Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell more lever­age in his ef­forts to pres­sure wa­ver­ing Repub­li­can se­na­tors back in line be­hind the nom­i­nee.

All three key swing GOP se­na­tors, Ms. Collins, Jeff Flake of Ari­zona and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska crit­i­cized Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump for his at­tack on Ka­vanaugh ac­cuser Chris­tine Blasey Ford at a cam­paign rally, but he was un­cowed. Turn­ing out the base, not de­cency, is what mat­ters in Trump-world. “Wow, such en­ergy and en­thu­si­asm for Brett Ka­vanaugh. Look at the En­ergy, look at the polls,” he gushed on Twit­ter Wed­nes­day night. Thurs­day morn­ing, he pro­claimed that the “harsh and un­fair treat­ment of Brett Ka­vanaugh is hav­ing an in­cred­i­ble up­ward im­pact on vot­ers. The PEO­PLE get it far bet­ter than the politi­cians.”

We’d say the politi­cians get it well enough. They get whether sup­port­ing or op­pos­ing Mr. Ka­vanaugh in the wake of cred­i­ble, if un­proven, al­le­ga­tions against him, his par­ti­san rant in the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee and his ques­tion­able state­ments about his past con­duct is good for them. They get that what mat­ters is not whether they be­lieve Mr. Ka­vanaugh or Ms. Ford or even whether they think he will make a good Supreme Court jus­tice, but which vote will get their base of sup­port­ers out to the polls.

Mr. Ka­vanaugh’s se­lec­tion was born out of Mr. Trump’s need to re­as­sure the Repub­li­can base dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign that he would nom­i­nate ac­cept­ably con­ser­va­tive jus­tices. The con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings made a mock­ery of any pre­tense that the Repub­li­can ma­jor­ity would at­tempt to as­sess his fit­ness for the na­tion’s high­est court — or, for that mat­ter, that Democrats would do more than grand­stand on the way to a sure de­feat in the Se­nate in hopes of a win at the polls — in No­vem­ber, or for some of them, in the race for pres­i­dent two years from now. The Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee hear­ings with Ms. Ford and Mr. Ka­vanaugh were de­signed in such a way as to pre­clude any ac­tual find­ing of facts. And the FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion that fol­lowed, lim­ited in time and scope, was no bet­ter.

Se­na­tor McCon­nell held a Supreme Court seat open for nearly a year in hopes that a Repub­li­can pres­i­dent would fill it be­cause he thought he could get away with it. Now he and Pres­i­dent Trump have rammed through Mr. Ka­vanaugh’s nom­i­na­tion for the same rea­son. In­deed, Mr. Pres­i­dent, we think the peo­ple do get that.

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