S.E. Cupp: Kavanaugh vocalized what many are thinking
At 2 p.m. Thursday, it looked as though Brett Kavanaugh’s fate was sealed. Professor Christine Blasey Ford had just wrapped up a stunning and remarkable five hours of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee and, indeed, the world.
Her emotional recollection of the assault she alleges she suffered 36 years ago was powerful and credible, leaving most Republican lawmakers visibly shell-shocked and most strategists declaring the morning testimony disastrous for Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
It’s hard to argue it wasn’t. Ford wasn’t preening for the cameras or happy to be there. As she said, she was terrified. And the Republicans’ decision to have a female prosecutor ask her questions turned out to backfire spectacularly.
By the time of the break between Ford and Kavanaugh’s testimony, few believed Kavanaugh could survive her devastating presentation, including many on the right. GOP Sen. Shelley Moore Capito called her testimony “riveting.” Fox legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano called her “exceptionally credible,” and Fox News host Chris Wallace said, “This is a disaster for the Republicans.”
He may not end up being confirmed on Friday or in the future.
But as Kavanaugh took to his microphone, his wife steeling herself behind him, it was clear he wasn’t trying to win his confirmation, he was trying to win back his reputation. And in doing so, he vocalized what plenty of voters think but cannot say. They feel just as betrayed as he does.
At first, his seething and unreserved anger was shocking, and for many of Kavanaugh’s political opponents it came off, as some on Twitter put it, as “a bad look.”
After outlining what some Democratic senators have called him -- including “evil” -- he was pointed:
“I understand the passions of the moment, but I would say to those senators your words have meaning. Millions of Americans listened carefully to you. Given comments like those is it any surprise that people have been willing to do anything, to make any physical threat against my family, to send any violent email to my wife. To make any kind of allegation against me and my friends. To blow me up and to take me down. You sowed the wind, for decades to come I fear the whole country will reap the whirlwind.”
He first teared up when discussing his daughter, who asked him to “pray for the woman,” the night before. “We mean no ill will,” toward Ford, he said. He cried episodically throughout his 45-minute long opening statement.
None of this is likely to satisfy his political opponents. For many supporters of #MeToo, nothing he can say will shake their belief that she is telling the truth and he is lying. And yes, he might lose this seat as a result.
But make no mistake, his opening statement reflected not only his personal anguish, but a deep and growing anger among average Americans over what they have seen as a political hatchet job. While many of us may be carefully considering the credibility of all of the allegations against Kavanaugh, many voters see a political smear campaign by Democrats looking to use any means possible to keep him off the court.
They see a party willing to cast aside due process over uncorroborated allegations. They see a media that’s heavily weighted in favor of his accusers. And they see activists weaponizing #MeToo for political gain.
His frustration is theirs. He feels maligned; so do they. He feels attacked; so do they. He feels like a prop in a political game; so do they.
Now, they may be wrong in their reading. But as midterm elections approach, it’s important to take them seriously. And Kavanaugh gave voice to all those frustrations and anxieties in his opening statement. They heard him loud and clear and they said, “Finally, he’s saying what we’re thinking.”
That might not save Kavanaugh’s confirmation, and maybe it shouldn’t. It might not prove once and for all he’s innocent or guilty, and it cannot. It might not keep Democrats from taking the House in November, and maybe nothing will.
But it will resonate, and with more voters than his opponents might think.