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Wed Oct 10, 2018, 03:50 PM

Trump's ugly attacks on Blasey Ford could save the Senate for Republicans. Really.

Trump’s ugly attacks on Blasey Ford could save the Senate for Republicans. Really.

By Greg Sargent
Opinion writer
October 8

With Brett M. Kavanaugh now on the Supreme Court, Republicans are coalescing around a new closing argument in the midterms: The Democratic response to this whole affair shows them to be lawless, out of control and unfit to govern, so you should keep power in the hands of the GOP, which heroically took on the angry mob in defense of the true victim in this situation: Brett M. Kavanaugh. ... In so doing, Republicans appear to be gambling that this will save them the Senate, or perhaps even lead to gains there. But it could cost them the House — yet this appears to be a risk Republicans are willing to take, since that appears likely anyway, and holding or expanding their ranks in the Senate gives Republicans a freer hand to keep remaking the judiciary. ... New polling out Monday morning — and some intelligence I gleaned from a senior Democratic strategist on how this is all playing — illustrates the situation.

The Kavanaugh-as-victim strategy

All this helps explain what we’re now seeing from Senate Republicans. In North Dakota, where endangered Democrat Heidi Heitkamp courageously came out against Kavanaugh in a state Trump won by 36 points, her GOP opponent, Kevin Cramer, just ripped into the #MeToo movement. Cramer mocked the very idea that we should believe women who claim to have been sexually assaulted, scoffing “that you’re just supposed to believe somebody because they said it happened,” and deriding #MeToo as a “movement towards victimization.”

This is particularly absurd in light of the mass movement among Republicans toward casting Kavanaugh and Republicans as the true victims in this whole affair. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell now claims public demonstrations of anger at Kavanaugh and Senate Republicans helped unify them behind Trump’s nominee. (This is nonsense, as Republicans were always going to support him no matter what.) The chair of the Republican National Committee laughably asserts that Kavanaugh was the victim of a “smear campaign” by “the left’s angry mob.” (This neatly reveals the feigned GOP willingness to give a hearing to Ford’s claims as hollow.)

And then there’s Sen. Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina, who has emerged as the twisted, grimacing face of right-wing rage at the very idea that Ford’s claims ever deserved a full and serious public examination. On Fox News over the weekend, Graham unleashed a stream of phony outrage about supposed efforts to “humiliate and railroad” Kavanaugh and “destroy his life.” Graham added that he hopes Republicans make this central to the case against Democrats in “purple” House districts. ... As that Democratic strategist’s intelligence suggests, this bad-faith-saturated dudgeon very well may work in red states and thus may save the Senate for Republicans. But in endangered GOP-held House districts in suburban and more bluish areas? Good luck with that.

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant — what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left. Follow https://twitter.com/theplumlinegs

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