The Kavanaugh boomerang

The assumption of the supposedly smart people is that the effort to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court will (1) fail, depressing Republican turnout, or (2) succeed, pumping up Democratic turnout.

Option number three is presented by James S. Robbins:

Have Democrats gone so overboard in trying to demonize Brett Kavanaugh that they risk a backlash from upstanding men and the women who love them?

Let’s start with the premise that Democrats want to keep Judge Kavanaugh off the high court by any means necessary. Their modus operandi is to bring up alleged sexual assault charges late in the game to delay or derail the nomination process. They see it as a win-win: they either destroy Kavanaugh, discourage the Republican voter base, and deal a significant blow to the Trump presidency (the real target of all this); or Republicans hang together in the face of this political monsoon, confirm Kavanaugh, and alienate women voters in the process, leading to Democratic victories in the midterm election.

Democrats seem to think this political game won’t cost them. But they have left the reaction of men out of the equation.

An NPR/Marist poll this week finds that a plurality of Americans are undecided on the issue, but there is a predictable gender gap with somewhat more men believing Kavanaugh and more women believing accuser Christine Blasey Ford. This supports the Democratic strategy in general, but it is noteworthy that many red-state Democratic Senators are still on the fence. Moving too soon against Kavanaugh could cost them at the ballot box if Ford does not come off as slam-dunk credible in Thursday’s hearing.

By most accounts, Brett Kavanaugh is a straight arrow guy. He has lived an exemplary and successful life. Yet his very squareness is the foundation for the Democratic story line, the contrasting idea that Kavanaugh has a malevolent hidden history. With the new and bizarre “gang rape” claims put forward by “total lowlife” porn lawyer Michael Avenatti, the story could become the Duke Lacrosse case 2.0. It’s the Lifetime movie version of a Supreme Court confirmation hearing.

To support their political assault on Kavanaugh, Democrats have been forced to take some controversial stances. For example, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, says there is no presumption of innocence for Kavanaugh because this is simply a “fact-finding” exercise. Democrats in general have rushed to the conclusion that Kavanaugh’s accusers are telling the truth, imposing a significant presumption of guilt on the judge. Senator Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, significantly expanded the issue when she said that “the men in this country” are “perpetuating all of these kinds of actions” and need to “shut up” and “do the right thing for a change.”

But men are rightly concerned about Democrats normalizing the idea that raising 30-to-35-year-old charges with no hard evidence and no presumption of innocence can wipe away reputations and careers. Why would any man vote for a political party that is generating this toxic environment?

If Democrats win on Kavanaugh, these tactics will be become commonplace. Any man could find himself facing unprovable accusations automatically taken as fact, made by an accuser who spent “six days … carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney.” Imagine the impact on workplace disputes, divorce proceedings, or any situation in which a man might stand accused, rightly or not.

The Kavanaugh case could set an anti-male precedent
This puts an extraordinary burden on men, who would face a dual-track justice system in which they are always in the wrong, unless they can prove otherwise. And it’s not just men who should be concerned but mothers of sons who would not like to see their children’s futures wrecked by people exploiting the potentially anti-male precedent of the Kavanaugh case. Also men’s wives, sisters, female coworkers and friends should reject the extremist notion that all men are suspect, if not outright guilty.

The gender gap has been a fact of political life for decades. The last Democratic presidential candidate to win a majority of male votes was Jimmy Carter in 1976. Perhaps Democrats feel that they can unleash whatever attacks on the male character they want, and it won’t matter at the polls.

But while Democrats use the Kavanaugh confirmation process to game the midterms for a favorable outcome among women voters, it could easily backfire. They may find they have motivated even more men — and women as well — to turn out to vote Republican to defend the male half of the population against this wholly un-American approach to justice.

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