KEVIN LEININGER: At some point even children stop crying; when will Justice Kavanaugh opponents do the same?

The presumption that Brett Kavanaugh was guilty until proven innocent was only one dangerous flaw in his confirmation process.. (AP photo)
Kevin Leininger

When our son Adam was a baby he would cry and carry on when he wasn’t happy. As any good parent would, Maribeth or I would get up in the middle of night to feed, change and comfort him — until we figured he was old enough to sleep until morning without our help.

It didn’t take Adam long to realize his wailing would not have the desired affect, and the resulting silence allowed all of us to live much more tranquil, enjoyable lives.

Whether Brett Kavanaugh’s more radical opponents will end their temper tantrum now that he has been confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court remains to be seen, but the continued noise offers a welcome reminder that those who will do or say anything in the pursuit of power should be the last to achieve it.

Until the emergence of 11th hour, decades-old sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh, Republican Sens. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina and Susan Collins of Maine were hardly icons of the conservative movement. And yet Collins’ was the most important vote Kavanaugh received, and not just because her gender repudiated the anti-woman narrative Democrats hope to ride to electoral victory next month.

Although Collins said she is convinced Christine Ford had indeed been sexually assaulted by someone, she also insisted that “we have a presumption of innocence in this country. And when I looked at the lack of any corroborating evidence, including no evidence from her very best friend who was present at the party, I could not conclude that Brett Kavanaugh was her assailant.”

For that, her office was inundated with threatening calls and letters one of which “actually threatened to rape one of my young female staffers,” Collins said.

“You will go down in history as the most naive person ever to be in Congress you (expletive), (expletive), feckless, naive woman!” one called yelled. “If you care at all about women’s choice, vote no Kavanaugh. Don’t be a dumb b—h,” another demanded. A letter warned that if she voted to confirm Kavanaugh “EVERY waitress who serves you is going to spit in your food, and that’s if you’re lucky you (expletive).”

For that and much more, Graham said “I keep telling my colleagues, if this is the new normal, God help us all. Taking Kavanaugh down would unleash forces from the darkest side of American politics in perpetuity. And if you think only one side is capable of doing this, you’re wrong.”

As if to prove it, Ford also reportedly has been threatened.

Although there were indeed plenty of holes in Ford’s story, and even more reason to doubt other Kavanaugh accusers, it is perfectly appropriate to consider a Supreme Court nominee’s personal behavior and character. It is equally appropriate for senators to vote against a nominee whose judicial philosophy they oppose.

But is it now really OK to verbally and even physically threaten people in order to settle political disputes? CNN anchor Jim Sciutto implied as much last week when dismissed the personal attacks against Kavanaugh as nothing more than “politics.” So did the congressional aide who revealed personal information of several Republican Senators, as did “Colbert Show” writer Ariel Dumas when she tweeted that, even though Kavanaugh was confirmed, “I’m just glad we ruined (his) life.”

Bill Maher, host of an equally hip TV show, is no friend of conservatives or Kavanaugh, labeling the approval process a “sham.” But he was astute enough to express alarm that even high school records are now considered fair game and that the standard for judging claims of sexual assault has “morphed from, ‘Listen to any woman who says she’s been wronged,’ which is the right thing to do, to ‘automatically believe.’ That’s what scary.”

The Kavanaugh vote surely will influence the November elections, including the fate of Democratic Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, whose “No” vote will strengthen his base while alienating some swing voters. But Democrats who hope to win votes by promising to impeach President Trump and Justice Kavanaugh — before he has cast even one vote or written a single opinion — may want to consider the history of another idea tha is winning increased support on the left.

With a seemingly solid conservative Supreme Court majority now in place, some are openly talking about adding at least two reliably liberal justices to the nine-member body should Democrats regain control of Cngress and White House. Ironic, coming from folks who revere precedent when it comes to Roe vs. Wade but have little appreciation of how “packing the court” undermined public support for President Franklin Roosevelt when he tried it in 1937.

FDR did ultimately gain a majority of friendly justices, but he did it the grown-up way: by playing the game more effectively, not by changing the rules. Lest Democrats have forgotten, George Santayana really was right: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Kevin Leininger at kleininger@news-sentinel.com or call him at 461-8355.

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