On today's BradCast: The first day of hearings in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee for Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump's very unpopular nominee to fill the U.S. Supreme Court by "swing vote" Justice Anthony Kennedy last month, started with tens of thousands of documents withheld by the White House over the weekend, kicked off Tuesday morning with pandemonium from Democratic committee members objecting to the proceedings, and continued with protests and arrests of some 70 observers in the chamber throughout the day. Just another unprecedented day in the U.S. Senate in the Trump Era. [Audio link to show follows below.]
Today we cover much of the havoc with extended excerpts from the hearings, and then a visit with columnist, Zero Hour radio host and former Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign writer RICHARD ESKOW, who joins us to try and help us make sense --- any sense --- of it all.
With some 100,000 documents from Kavanaugh's time in the George W. Bush White House (where he served as legal adviser and Staff Secretary during some of Dubya's most consequential decisions, on everything torture to marriage equality) being withheld at the instruction of the Trump Administration late on Friday night and some 42,000 documents dumped on Committee members on the Labor Day Monday evening before hearings were to begin on Tuesday morning, we discuss whether Democrats should have shown up at all for today's hearings for the longtime Republican Party operative turned federal judge turned SCOTUS nominee.
Kavanaugh, who appears to have lied to the U.S. Senate during his 2006 Senate hearings for the D.C. Court of Appeals, is now being rammed through in what appears to be a desperately mad dash by Republicans to seat him with a bare majority before they may lose control of the U.S. Senate after this November's midterms. So, should Democrats have even played along with what some are describing as an "illegitimate" process or should they simply have refused to show up altogether?
"Even the strongest statements [from Democrats] today were not strong enough. They were good, they were fine, but every debater knows that as long as you allow your opponent to establish a phony premise or a phony setup for the debate, you're going to lose," Eskow argues. "By showing up --- even by voicing their objections --- the Democrats, by the way they are handling this, are legitimizing the process, in my opinion."
We also discuss the media coverage of the nomination and subsequent hearings, and the dilemma we in the media face in how (and if) to cover the substantive issues and related concerns about Kavanaugh's hard-right record as a jurist. On one hand, we are legitimizing an illegitimate process in doing so. On the other, if seated on the GOP's already-stolen U.S. Supreme Court, Kavanaugh will almost certainly serve as the fifth vote to rollback and/or reverse decades of hard-fought civil rights victories and much more for at least a generation. So, we do need to cover it, right? (That's a very real question that I've been debating for quite a while. Would welcome your thoughts in comments below!)
And all of this, mind you, for a potential Justice nominated by a President facing a serious criminal investigation, and who will almost certainly, if seated, sit in judgment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into the same President who nominated him for a lifetime position on the nation's highest Court.
"It's Alice in Wonderland," charged Vermont's Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, who has been in the Senate for 44 years, overseeing the Judiciary Committee's confirmation hearings for every single Justice currently on the Court, during his opening remarks on Tuesday: "Today, the Senate is not simply phoning in our vetting obligation, we're discarding it. It's not only shameful, it's a sham...And any claim that this has been a through transparent process is downright Orwellian...This is the most incomplete, most partisan, least transparent vetting for any Supreme Court nominee I have ever seen...and I've seen more of those than any person serving in the Senate today."
Also on today's show (albeit very quickly!): Voters head to the polls for primary election day in Massachusetts on Tuesday, Delaware on Wednesday, and fast-moving Hurricane Gloria now threatens the Gulf Coast...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)