A rare moment when a senator had to listen

With an insulated life, the nation’s politicians are rarely in the uncomfortable position Arizona GOP Sen. Jeff Flake and his handlers were put in this morning after he said he’d vote to approve the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh as a U.S. Supreme Court justice.

Flake, a person of power, was powerless because of the setting: an elevator. He wanted to close the door, but he couldn’t. The optics of shutting the door in the face of women who have been sexually assaulted would’ve been too symbolic of the last two days and could have brought down Kavanaugh’s nomination.

So he had to stand there and listen.

In a week or so, he’ll be at a restaurant and he’ll suffer the same fate. And the Washington insiders and media will say isn’t it a shame that a politician can’t eat in peace anymore.

  • RBHolb

    “And the Washington insiders and media will say isn’t it a shame that a politician can’t avoid the realization that his votes are affecting real people anymore.”

    FIFY.

  • MrE85

    For all the good it did. Heck, I can call for a delay and FBI investigation too, but I don’t don’t have the power to make it happen. Flack did, until he threw it away in exchange for a “yes” vote.

    • There was no committee deadline for today’s vote. What he did was create the illusion of giving a rip. It’s everything that’s wrong with politics — trying to take two stands instead of just one, as if the little people wouldn’t notice.

      • crystals

        I hear you both, but it was SOMETHING. It is leading to SOMETHING. I’ll take a week-long FBI investigation over no investigation, even if it is less than we deserve and it’s unclear whether it will change the ultimate outcome of this process.

        Flake (and Murkowski’s support of his effort, to be clear) successfully paused the clock and forced further examination. I don’t particularly respect him most of the time, because of his tendency to be all talk and little action, but HE DID SOMETHING when the rest of his colleagues were ready to plow forward come hell or high water.

        We have a broken system. We have broken politics. I agree with all of that, but I also don’t want to lose sight of the fact that something happened today that WAS unexpected and required some level of guts that have up to this point been largely missing from the process.

        • It won’t. The process is a corrupt one. The one-week delay was a favor to a vote. There’s nothing in Flake’s actions today that qualifies as guts. Quite the contrary, actually.

          • crystals

            I disagree, and yet also understand why you feel the way you do.

            I’m trying to not be overly optimistic, because I think everything up to this point has shown there is no reason to be, and I also don’t want to give out gold stars for pandering to women (of which I am one). But what’s happening now is what Dr. Ford *asked* to have happen – and it wouldn’t have happened unless Flake and Murkowski decided to stand up to McConnell and say it needed to. And that, I think, IS worth noting.

            It’s possible Kavanaugh pulls himself out now that this is a real thing and that Judge has said he’ll cooperate. It’s more likely he won’t, that the process won’t find a damn thing (despite what appears to be some blatant lying under oath) and that he’s our next Supreme Court justice. I would certainly put my money on the latter, even though it makes me mad as hell.

            But at least for today? There’s still a possibility that the outcome could be different…and if not because of the FBI, because of the amount of polling that can happen in seven days in Alaska and Maine.

          • I feel that way because I’ve seen this all before, I’ve covered politics in the past and I know theater when I see it. Everything Flake did today was theater. If there actually WERE some substance, he could have simply postponed the vote TODAY until the investigation. So why didn’t he? Because it’s theater intended to get people to believe that something has happened to disrupt the rubber-stamp process.

            https://youtu.be/wGdhc9k07Ms

          • lindblomeagles

            Here lies the problem Crystal. This event happened 30 years ago. The FBI was given 1 week to investigate said event. We had people in this state, searching for clues and answers to the Jacob Wetterling abduction. There is no way the FBI can conduct an investigation into a sexual encounter that happened more than 30 years ago in 1 week.

          • Sonny T

            Trump could have refused to order the FBI probe and demanded an immediate full-senate vote.

            This would have embarrassed a political enemy (Flake), infuriated the opposition, energized the mid-term base, and Kavanaugh would be confirmed.

            Trump chose moderation. Even conciliation, over the exercise of raw power. Will he be given credit? Nah. Why not? Because it doesn’t fit what we’ve been told about the president.

        • The Resistance

          I want to believe you. But I’ve seen this before. BK has the full support of the president and the party. Their denial of a hearing for Merrick Garland demonstrated a bloodthirst for this lifetime posting. And with future demographics not in Republican’s favor they know they need to obtain power anyway they can. Ten bucks (donated to MPR!) says Kavanaugh will be sitting next to Clarence Thomas very soon.

          • crystals

            I don’t disagree with you in the slightest.

          • The Resistance

            The whole thing makes me want to throw up.

        • lindblomeagles

          50 years ago, symbolism might have signaled a change in the hearts of those who hold power. In this instance, the symbolism is likely to be a mirage.

      • Mike

        Much of our politics today is illusion, including a great deal of the so-called “resistance” to the current occupant. Remember when Flake made that speech criticizing said occupant when announcing his retirement, and various commentators talked about how courageous he was?

        Our current politics (perfected by the previous occupant) is adept in the art of saying pretty, idealistic things while perpetuating the status quo. In this case, it’s the blue-blood, prep-school old boys’ network that apparently is in dire need of support. It shall not go wanting!

        • Jay T. Berken

          “Much of our politics today is illusion”

          Our entire democratic system of government is an illusion that is made on the backs of fragile bonds of a quorum and a document called the Constitution.

        • The Resistance

          The status quo is definitely not being perpetuated under the current GOP controlled executive, judiciary, legislative and statehouses. Ask Angela Merkel, any migrant child missing her mother, or farmer who will soon be living off of federal welfare payments. Things are changing. And fast.

      • lindblomeagles

        To Bob’s point, Flake actually admitted that when he was asked by reporters why he moved the motion forward only to stave the vote off a week for an FBI investigation. Said one Jeff Flake as heard on NPR today, “We don’t want Democrats to say that we didn’t try to investigate the claims.”

  • KTFoley

    “Look at me when I’m talking to you.”

    That, right there.

  • L. Foonimin

    as he prepares to challenge Trump for the Republican endorsement in 2020

    (all gave some, some gave all … one had bone spurs)

  • Jeff C.

    Is there any Republican who has some genuine empathy?

    • Meghan

      Of course! See: Lindsey Graham’s display of genuine empathy for Brett Kavanaugh yesterday.

      😉

  • Mike Worcester

    Two reflections on the video:
    1. Watch as the two people with Senator Flake gently slide over as if they are trying to get out the camera view, to hide from the moment.
    2. Notice how he can barely look at them. Like he can barely acknowledge their pain.

    • tarry_on

      I saw it more as them trying to protect Sen. Flake (though finally one decided that melting into the background was the best option optic). Which wasn’t ironic; women have long been conditioned to protect men.

      Also, what or whom was the other woman looking for toward the end of the video? A white steed to rescue them? I found their behaviors as a whole to be strange.

  • The Resistance

    I’ve come to despise Sasse, Flake, Collins and Murkowski even more than Ted Cruz or Mitch McConnell for reaping all of the benefits of appearing to be moderate, while continuing to vote the party line all the time.

    Their handwringing, hemming, and hawing all see like theater to me. At least Cruz, McConnell, et al are genuine. Politically repulsive to me, but genuine.

    Was I the only one who was disappointed in Amy Klobuchar’s response to Kavanaugh asking her yesterday if SHE had ever had ever blacked out? If someone sassed me and sneered at me like that in a job interview I would have ripped them a new one.

    I’m sure Amy is a better person than me, but I would have preferred that she more forcefully let him know that showing that kind of disrepect to a woman is exactly why he should not be in the position he is applying for. I find her restraint to be her most frustrating quality and the reason I find her only moderately effective as my senator. And, yes, I already voted for her again by early ballot.

    • crystals

      Friendly amendment to insert “Erik Paulsen” into your first sentence.

      I actually thought Klobuchar did a pretty good job yesterday (and an even better job today in laying out why she was voting no). I think it’s precisely because she stayed so measured and is seen as less partisan than the other Ds that he got the talking-to during the break that he needed to apologize to her. Their entire exchange laid his aggression pretty bare, I thought. I’ve been more impressed with her the last two days than I have maybe ever, for what it’s worth.

      • Al

        I’m impressed with Klobuchar for staying calm, and I’m impressed with Harris, Hirono, Feinstein for not being calm. I’m impressed with any woman who has the guts to stand up, in public, in the face of this privilege and vitriol, and fight for us. How they do it, well, that’s up to them. I’m grateful they do it, period.

        • crystals

          It’s hard to imagine any woman being allowed to act the way Kavanaugh did and be appreciated for showing their emotion, yet here we are. Like Klobuchar said in her interview on the Today Show this morning, she would have been kicked out of court.

          All the women on the committee have been fantastic and are doing heroic work. (And that’s a nonpartisan statement since, well, there aren’t any Republican women on the committee.)

          • The Resistance

            I wish she had made that comment about her being thrown out of his court if she acted the way he did to her directly to BK rather than to John Dickerson on CBS.

            And, in the end, by her own admission BK left her portion of the interview never really answering her question.

            As a former prosecutor, I think she could have been more effective. She had a Welch/McCarthy ‘have you no shame’ moment handed to her and could have delivered a real knockout shot.

            She opted not to and we’ll likely be stuck with a second credibly accused abuser of women in an unelected lifetime position on the Supreme Court.

            And another branch of government will have lost complete credibility.

          • Sonny T

            Yes she could have been tougher. Kavanaugh displayed a disturbing lack of respect

          • The Resistance

            It’ll get worse once he has a gavel in his hand for the rest of his life.

        • Yesterday’s hearing also put her much higher in the 2020 mix.

  • Postal Customer

    I’m pretty sure that the purpose of this FBI “investigation” is to provide political cover for Collins, Murk, and especially Jeff Flake. They are cowards.

    Kavanaugh will be on SCOTUS by this time next Friday.

    • Bingo

    • lindblomeagles

      You’re exactly right Dave.

  • Credit Warrior

    I watched the entire circus on C-Span streaming. (I don’t watch tv as I don’t like listening to media opinions and/or the planned “emotional” theater from their perspective sides which follow strict party lines) National politics continues to “play for optic verses doing what is right. The entire process was difficult to watch. It was difficult to tell what really happened as neither Dr. Ford or Judge Kavanaugh had any real evidence. As far as the yelling and emotional outbursts I think Mark Twain said it best; “Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”

    • // as neither Dr. Ford or Judge Kavanaugh had any real evidence.

      What would qualify as “real evidence” in this case?

      I didn’t see anything to make me feel comfortable about “judicial temperament.”

      • Credit Warrior

        Having a witness testifying that such an event took place or a friend saying that she was extremely upset during that time frame. Highly unusual for a heavy drinker and/or sexual predator to not have a pattern over decades. Rarely if ever do they stop on their own. I am glad that the FBI is looking at this again. Judicial temperament is well documented on his 300+ rulings. Allegations of this kind without evidence, being played out in the political arena, out in public after 30+ years shows neither party is really concerned about either player and only galvanizes the deep divide between parties. I wish this process would have been behind closed doors and if real evidence is found then bring it to the people. At least both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh would have been protected from the media circus that this hearing unleashed.