When Republicans bring up past partisan unfairness, it’s “whining.” When Democrats bring up the GOP’s perceived past sins, it’s “debate.”
That’s why the media is full of stories today about the GOP “whining” about past attacks on Robert Bork, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett during their confirmation hearings.
Casting aspersions on Barrett’s devout Catholicism and turning the Kavanaugh hearings into a hysterical circus of women accusing the judge of past sexual assault — at least two of which were later found to be lies — is just part of the confirmation process, we were told.
Leading Republicans believe certain nominees and their backers were wronged, and they cannot close the book on that sense of injustice. The substantive probing of Jackson’s record begins on Tuesday, and as Republicans foreshadowed their lines of inquiry Monday, notably related to her record on criminal defense issues, they made plain that nomination scars endure.
Recalling the past ordeals also may serve to get out ahead of criticism and blunt any claims that they are, in fact, smearing her as they believe past nominees were.
“No one is going to ask you with mock severity, ‘Do you like beer?’ ” Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, said Monday, referring to questioning after Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party when they were both teenagers in suburban Washington, DC. Kavanaugh categorically denied the accusations.
Cruz’s mocking tone was imitated by several Republicans who were trying to use references to past Democratic unfairness in order to shield themselves from the inevitable charges of “racism” that are sure to come.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) asked nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson about her religious views during questioning on Tuesday with an eye toward proving a point about the Barrett confirmation hearings.
Graham opened his questioning by asking Jackson abruptly about her faith.
“What faith are you, by the way?” he asked.
When she responded she is a nondenominational protestant, Graham then asked: “Could you fairly judge a Catholic?”
Graham was evoking memories of Democrats asking Amy Coney Barrett about her membership in the People of Praise, at Catholic evangelical group. The questions appeared to come very close to a “religious test” forbidden by the Constitution, but Democrats employed it to smear Barrett by suggesting she couldn’t fairly judge someone of a different faith.
When Jackson said she didn’t feel comfortable talking about her personal religious views, Graham then pivoted quickly to how Democrats scrutinized Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s Catholic faith in 2017 and 2020.
“How would you feel if a senator up here said of your faith ‘the dogma lives loudly within you and that’s of concern’?” he said, alluding to what Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) famously told Barrett when she was nominated to a federal appeals court in 2017.
“You’re reluctant to talk about it because it’s uncomfortable. Just imagine what would happen if people on late-night television called you a f’ing nut speaking in tongues because you practice the Catholic faith in a way they couldn’t relate to,” he added.
Feinstein was just asking questions. It was all part of the debate. So Democrats don’t have a leg to stand on when they complain about Republicans treating Jackson unfairly.