During Judge Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing earlier this month, Senate Democrats seemed content just scoring points with their base by quizzing the Supreme Court nominee about President Trump, abortion, dark money, racial issues and the like. Now, in the wake of Christine Ford's sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh, Democrats appear to be shifting to a new strategy aimed at delaying the final confirmation vote until after the November 6 election and actually defeating the nominee.
Playing to the base while implicitly acknowledging that Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation was unlikely to be slowed or stopped was a safe strategy. The same cannot be said of the new Democratic strategy that is emerging. It is politically risky while offering little upside.
The most immediate risk to Democrats comes from raising the hopes of their base by yelling "gotcha" while armed only with an accuser who waited more than three decades to come forward, can't recall many pertinent facts, and recently signed a letter denouncing President Trump. Even if Ford can satisfactorily address the resulting doubts, Democrats can do nothing to stop Kavanaugh without the cooperation of Senate Republicans, who, among other concerns, may be wary about making the examination of a nominee's teenage years a precedent.
That's not to say that Democrats have no chance of using Ford's allegation to defeat Judge Kavanaugh. But the odds of falling flat on their face are greater.
Nonetheless, failing to deliver might be a risk worth taking for Senate Democrats if they had a reasonable chance of preventing what they say they most fear – the replacement of Justice Anthony Kennedy with a solid conservative. Headlines suggest that if Democrats can delay confirmation then win control of the Senate on November 6, that goal could be realized. However, a close analysis of the ways in which the new Democratic strategy could play out says otherwise. Consider the possibilities...
Read more of Committee for Justice president Curt Levey's op-ed in Fox News.