Progressives Need to Give It Up on Brett Kavanaugh

Brett Kavanaugh at the 2019 State of the Union Address a few months after having been confirmed.Doug Mills/Pool/CNP via ZUMA

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Roxanne Roberts updates us today on Brett Kavanaugh (nickel summary: doing fine but lots of people still don’t like him) and this gives me an opportunity to express an unpopular opinion.

But let’s start with Bill Clinton. In 1998 Republicans impeached him for perjury but failed to get more than a tiny handful of Democratic votes in the Senate. They were punished for this at the polls later in the year.

Why? Clinton did lie under oath, after all. Everyone agreed about that. But outside of the fever swamps, among ordinary people, it mattered a lot what he lied about. And these ordinary people figured that (a) it was about getting a little nookie on the side, (b) it had nothing to do with his performance of his office, and (c) come on, everyone gets a little on the side and everyone lies about it if they get caught. Get real.

Republicans were in such a lather over Clinton that they just couldn’t get this, and it’s the same mistake Democrats made with Kavanaugh. Did Kavanaugh lie under oath? Of course he did. But outside the lefty Twitter mob it mattered a lot what he lied about. Most people understood that Kavanaugh had (a) engaged in some crude sexual behavior and binge drinking 35 years ago as a teenager, (b) it had nothing to do with the performance of his office, and (c) come on, lots of people are a little wild as teenagers and they all lie about it if they get caught.

Now, I know the lefty rejoinder perfectly well. Crude sexual behavior??? It was assault! It was rape! He ruined Christine Blasey Ford’s life. And then the smarmy prick tried to pretend he was the victim.

In the precincts of modern left Twitter, this stuff is so obvious that it hardly bears saying. Outside those precincts, however, it sounds head-shakingly ridiculous. Among Republicans, even honest ones, the whole thing looked like a cynically calculated attempt to destroy a good man who was guilty of nothing more than a trivial bit of youthful horseplay three decades in the past and had had a sterling career ever since.

I guess this is a long way of saying that I hope progressives don’t try to use Kavanaugh as a way of rallying the Democratic base. Like it or not, it will backfire. If Kavanaugh becomes a campaign talking point, ordinary people will just shake their heads and committed Republicans will be far more fired up to vote than Democrats. They are massively pissed about the whole affair. As always in politics, know your audience.

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

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Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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