There is only one politically viable path forward for the White House: It must immediately withdraw Brett Kavanaugh from consideration for a seat on the Supreme Court.
It's hard to understand how any Republican office holder could come to any other conclusion after listening to Christine Blasey Ford's testimony and response to questions before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. Even Fox News could see it. Chris Wallace called it a "disaster for Republicans." Judge Andrew Napolitano said "all of us agree that this witness is exceptionally credible."
We are covering the news. No matter where it falls. Thanks. If you think that the first section of this hearing was a win for the GOP — then you saw a different hearing. So far. https://t.co/J5EgRELmjq
— Bret Baier (@BretBaier) September 27, 2018
That doesn't mean Kavanaugh's name will in fact be withdrawn. A significant portion of the GOP, including the president, appears to have bought into the notion that fighting ruthlessly and without restraint against political opponents (presumed in all cases to be unscrupulous and equally merciless) is the only acceptable course of action. Still, a party attuned to its own good as well as the good of the country would instantly recognize that Ford's performance before the committee was politically devastating, leaving Kavanaugh irreparably damaged. If he does not withdraw and somehow manages to get confirmed by the Senate, Justice Kavanaugh's entire career on the high court would be shadowed by a cloud of suspicion that as a teenager he perpetrated a sexual assault and then lied about it.
This isn't a matter of ideology.
There are numerous qualified conservative judges and legal scholars who, presumably, would not be credibly accused of sexual assault during their confirmation hearings. This is almost certainly the case with Amy Coney Barrett. She could be nominated and confirmed, placing a very conservative jurist on the court who could very well deliver a fatal blow to federal abortion rights in this country, all without credible charges of misogyny and violence haunting her tenure.
Neither is this a matter of "facts."
No one besides those involved truly knows what happened or didn't happen between Ford, Kavanaugh, and Mark Judge in suburban Maryland 36 summers ago, and that is exceedingly unlikely to change. No surveillance footage will be found, no hidden recordings released to corroborate Ford's allegations or exonerate Kavanaugh. This really is a matter of she says / he says — and on that score Ford's testimony was powerful, moving, and credible. So much so that by the time she'd finished reading her opening statement, Kavanaugh's own appearance before the committee had become a political irrelevancy.
Of course he passionately — much of the time with furious anger and through barely contained sobs — denied every aspect of the accusations. By this point, it was hard to imagine him doing anything else. Yet Ford's testimony had left him in an impossible position.
Bloodthirsty Republican partisans can lament it, but Ford sounded incredibly convincing, and denying that makes them sound like emotionally stunted cretins. No one with a rudimentary capacity for empathy could have listened to Ford's testimony and concluded anything other than that she fully believes the account she conveyed and was sharing it with the world with a great deal of fear and reluctance.
Her account of what happened so long ago is not a memory recovered in the recent past. It is something she claims to have carried around with her from the moment the events took place. She insists (with what she says is "100 percent certainty") that she was attacked, that Kavanaugh was the assailant, and that Judge was a witness to and partial participant in the event. If this version of events is untrue, she is either one of the most effective liars in human history or is unaware of the fundamental mistake to which she has been erroneously clinging for more than three and a half decades — long before Brett Kavanaugh was anyone more significant than an alleged drunken, horny predator at a house party.
Would one woman's testimony be enough to convict Brett Kavanaugh of a crime 36 years after it took place? Perhaps not. It's possible, maybe even likely, that a defense attorney would be able to establish reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors. That's the way it should be.
But as many have pointed out, this isn't a trial. It's a political process to determine whether Kavanaugh should be elevated to a lifetime position from which he would wield extraordinary power over people's lives. It might seem unfair to his friends and supporters that he be cut loose in this way, after having his reputation stomped under a muddy boot. But politics ain't beanbag, and no one is entitled to a seat on the nation's highest court.
Republicans have a radioactive nominee on their hands. What needs to come next should be obvious to everyone.