On evenings like this, when the parameters of an ongoing storyline finally starts to come into focus, I’ll sometimes flip back and forth between MSNBC and CNN to see who figures it out and who doesn’t. I found myself disappointed tonight, as no one on television seemed to understand what Dr. Christine Blasey Ford had just done to Brett Kavanaugh. Then someone finally said it: “Hurtling toward the sun.”
Those were the words spoken by Rachel Maddow tonight when she stated, in her opinion, that the Kavanaugh nomination is now on its way down the tubes. Because she was in the process of conducting a lengthy (and enlightening) interview with Hillary Clinton which took up nearly the entire hour, she never did get a chance to explain why she thinks Kavanaugh is now done. But I don’t think it’s all that difficult to grasp what Ford is doing to the GOP, and to Kavanaugh.
If you haven’t heard the news by now, Dr. Ford sent a letter tonight to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, stating that she’s not willing to testify before the committee unless the FBI investigates her attempted rape accusations against Kavanaugh first. Far too many cable news pundits heard that news and concluded that the GOP will simply blow her off, and then go ahead and magically confirm Kavanaugh. But that’s not how anything works in the real world.
These situations are all about leverage. Now that the Republicans have blinked by delaying the vote and asking Ford to testify, she’s concluded that they can’t move forward without her testimony. It’s why she’s now attaching conditions to her testimony. It’s how smart negotiators operate. She’s demanding that the Republicans have the FBI investigate Kavanaugh. They can agree to this, and as Hillary suggested tonight, for all we know, such an investigation might only require a delay of a couple weeks in the hearings. But this isn’t about the GOP. It’s about Kavanaugh, because he can’t allow the FBI to investigate.
If the FBI begins an investigation into the alleged attempted rape accusation against Brett Kavanaugh, he’ll probably end up in prison. As we’ve seen in a number of instances lately, once the FBI starts digging into a person, it doesn’t stop until everything has been exposed. Ford is framing this such that if Kavanaugh drops out of the nomination, he might be spared an FBI investigation. We’ll see what Kavanaugh does in response. But if he doesn’t drop out very soon, he might as well go get fitted for prison stripes. Ford has backed him into a corner where his nomination is over or his life is over. Hurtling toward the sun indeed.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report