Mainstream Media Throws In the Towel, Accepts Kavanaugh's Inevitability as SCOTUS Justice


Though his confirmation hearings are fully three weeks away and the Senate Judiciary Committee has only just begun reviewing records relating to his service in the executive branch, prominent voices in the media have already predicted that efforts to stop Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court have failed.

The New York Times and The Washington Post both featured pieces this weekend chronicling the air of inevitability around Kavanaugh, made worse by pervasive lethargy and inertia in Democratic ranks.

“There were too many Democrats who decided out of the gate that this was an unwinnable fight,” Brian Fallon told the Post.

Fallon, a one-time aide to Hillary Clinton, now leads a progressive advocacy group called Demand Justice that promised to spend millions mobilizing the left against Kavanaugh.

Both pieces note that GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, pro-choice moderates who occasionally break with the Republican caucus, seem generally unfazed by leftwing campaigns to secure their “no” votes. Though both lawmakers remain undecided, they have each said positive things about the judge, giving Democrats little reason to believe they might buck their own party to oppose him.

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Collins and Murkowski previously told the Post that constituent passion was far higher during the attempted repeal of the ACA in the summer of 2017. Collins, Murkowski and GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona joined with Democrats and stopped a last-ditch effort to overturn President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy accomplishment.

“The level of just emotional outpouring that made it just — intense is the best word — is different than it is now,” Murkowski told WaPo, comparing ACA repeal with Kavanaugh’s nomination.

For her part, Collins dismissed leftwing rhetoric respecting Kavanaugh, telling reporters at an event in Orono, Maine, that liberal concerns are “overblown.”

The pieces inadvertently revealed that Democrats in Washington and progressive activists outside the Beltway have placed different messages at the fore of their communications strategy. While liberal organizers dread the demise of abortion access and the Affordable Care Act, Senate Democrats have placed a procedural conflict with the Republican-controlled Judiciary Committee at the center of their messaging.

Democrats are seeking access to any records Kavanaugh produced or handled while in the George W. Bush White House, as Senate Republicans limited their document request to items he generated as a White House lawyer, arguing they are most relevant to determining his substantive legal views.

Though the divergent tactics might be seen as complementary, it also suggests that the brunt of the pre-hearing Democratic message is not even resonating with progressive voters.

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Other reports noted that anti-Kavanaugh grassroots efforts like protests and phone banks have drawn few supporters and yielded little by way of tangible returns.

As Republicans hold a narrow majority in the upper chamber, Democrats need to peel off a handful of GOP votes to sink Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings will begin on Sept. 4.

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