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Rich Manieri: Of course Democrats are playing politics on Kavanaugh

September 22, 2018

It would nice if once, just once, our Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress could take a break from giving each other noogies and spend their energy trying to find the truth.

You remember the truth. At the moment it’s gasping for air beneath a heap of political agendas.

Unfortunately for the American people, the Brett Kavanaugh fiasco only highlights the inability of our elected representatives to agree on much of anything, up to and including ordering lunch.

At issue is what to do about the accusations that Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s most recent Supreme Court nominee, sexually assaulted a woman when he was in high school. Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, alleges that Kavanaugh pinned her down, tried to remove her swimming suit and put his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream. Kavanaugh says it never happened.

Republicans are accusing Democrats of “playing politics” with the accusations partly because the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., sat on the information for two months until an opportune time for its release, which turned to be near the end of Kavanaugh’s confirmation process.

Well played, senator, as if the information wasn’t important when Feinstein received it. And now, at least to Democrats, it’s the most important piece of information in the world.

Of course, the Democrats are playing politics. And if you’re a Republican and you don’t believe your party leaders would do the same thing if the situation were reversed, you’d better sit this one out.

I don’t know what Kavanaugh did or was capable of doing 35 years ago when he was 17. I do know this sort of alleged, abhorrent behavior seems to be inconsistent with what we’ve learned about his history and character.

I also know that his accuser should be taken seriously and not condemned for coming forward. And now Republicans, including the president, want Ford to testify before the Senate committee to gauge whether the allegations against Kavanaugh are credible. But it’s still unclear if Ford will take Republicans up on their offer to tell her story.

“If we don’t hear from both sides on Monday, let’s vote,” Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., tweeted Tuesday.

Democrats and Ford want the FBI to investigate before she testifies. “We should honor Dr., Blasey, Ford’s wishes and delay this hearing,” Feinstein said in a statement. “A proper investigation must be completed, witnesses interviewed, evidence reviewed and all sides spoken to. Only then should the chairman set a hearing date.”

Tuesday night, Ford’s lawyers sent a letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the Judiciary Committee chairman, arguing that Ford cannot testify until “full investigation by law enforcement officials [to] ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a non-partisan manner.”

That sounds like stalling and, of course, it is.

There’s no indication that the FBI intends to capitulate and send its agents to unravel a 35-year-old sexual assault allegation.

That’s not what the FBI does, nor should it. Frankly, such a demand is ridiculous and the Democrats know it.

If an FBI Easter egg hunt is now off the table, as it should be, let’s do what would be a welcome change from business as usual and act in the best interest of the American people: Give Ford a deadline to come in and testify.

She can do so, as Grassley suggested, privately, so the hearing is actually a legitimate attempt at fact finding instead of reality TV.

I hope Ford testifies, I really do, so the committee can see for itself if she’s credible.

If Ford declines to come in, there needs to be a vote. Not because Republicans want it but because there’s really nothing left to do. I’m not sure what other ideas the Democrats have to delay this thing short of all of them coming down with the flu at the same time.

This nonsense would almost be funny if it weren’t so important and if human beings weren’t involved.

This is why people — myself included — are so fed up with those we’ve elected to represent us and, if polls are any indication, this is a bipartisan gripe.

All 10 Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have promised to vote no on Kavanaugh. But the reality is that Democrats wouldn’t have voted to confirm Kavanaugh had he descended from Heaven on a cloud. Now what? We can’t help but watch. We can’t take our eyes off the spectacle, for the same reason drivers slow down to gape at a car crash.

The only victim here is the truth.

Rich Manieri is a Philadelphia-born journalist and author. He is currently a professor of journalism at Asbury University in Kentucky.

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