Senator Jiminy Cricket
WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. Jeff Flake may have become a momentary hero for Democrats hoping to block Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, but Sen. Lindsey Graham has cinched the role as Jiminy Cricket of the U.S. Senate.
Never one to shy away from cameras or fall short on quotable one-liners, Graham came out swinging during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings Thursday and Friday. Fearing no consequence, apparently, he railed against his Democratic colleagues with righteous outrage and said what was obviously true.
Somebody had to do it.
Flake, who seems committed to living up to his name, bucked his fellow Republicans at the last minute Friday. After voting to advance Kavanaugh to the full Senate, Flake requested a one-week delay to give the FBI time to conduct its own investigation of allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford when the two were at a party more than 30 years ago. Earlier in the day, Flake had said he would vote for Kavanaugh, but that was before he was confronted (and, apparently, intimidated) by women on an elevator who said they were assault victims and that he was “telling all women that they don’t matter.”
But back to Graham, who is far more entertaining even — or especially — when he’s mad. The usually congenial senator showed up at Thursday’s hearing with Moral Outrage on his arm and Truth as his chaperone.
Love him or not — and who doesn’t love Jiminy Cricket? — Graham said in a very loud non-whisper what every sensible, fair-minded person was surely thinking: The hearings that ultimately brought both Kavanaugh and Ford to tears were driven by a partisan quest for power without regard for the human collateral damage.
Railing at the Democratic side of the hearing room, Graham nearly shouted, “Boy, y’all want power. God I hope you never get it.”
The only thing worse than Republicans with absolute power is Democrats with absolute power, right? It is true, however, that the pitiable spectacle of first Ford and then Kavanaugh showed that Senate Democrats were willing to martyr their own best witness against Kavanaugh to delay confirmation and, assuming they win the Senate in the midterm elections, block Donald Trump from appointing any more conservatives to the high court.
Graham’s passionate commentary was, thus, a rallying cry to Republican voters, whose intensity has been flickering next to highly motivated Democrats, especially women. By Friday, he was calmer and more relaxed, perhaps because he believed Flake was onboard. He spelled out the reasons Ford’s story wasn’t compelling enough to keep Kavanaugh off the bench — no supporting evidence or testimony, not even a time or place.
Yes, her testimony was heartbreaking and seemed sincere. She plainly has suffered. Kavanaugh, too, has suffered immensely. Nearly losing control throughout his emotional statement, he was as credible as his accuser. Riveted by the proceedings, I felt at times I should look away rather than play voyeur to the humiliation of two fine people — stripped of dignity and emotionally exposed before the world.
While many were horrified by Graham’s anger, I found it as cleansing and refreshing as a dip in the River Jordan. His points, meanwhile, were compelling.
Point 1: Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., sat on Ford’s July letter alleging the sexual assault until the eve of a scheduled committee vote on Kavanaugh. If she hadn’t, there would have been ample time to investigate the claim and conduct interviews, which Grassley did as soon as he knew of the letter in late September.
Point 2: If not for a leak that was likely from the Democratic side, Ford’s anonymity, which she deeply wanted, could have been preserved. But this wouldn’t have served the Democrats’ seeming strategy of delay or their apparent hope for an emotion-packed display.
Kavanaugh’s suffering was epic. By all accounts, he has lived his adult life as a model citizen, an exemplary husband and father, a beloved teacher and coach and an admired judge. Yet, our esteemed senators found it necessary to parse inscriptions in his high school year book. Read yours lately?
With apologies for any nicknames that may ensue, Graham is a necessary voice, the human truth-o-meter and translator who shouts the truth from the rooftops, then ambles amiably over to the cameras, smiles and jokes with the very people he savaged, and tries to find his ol’ buddy Flake, who, Graham said, “wrastled” with how to vote, and maybe give him a little hug on his way back to obscurity.
Long may Sen. Cricket’s flag wave.
Kathleen Parker’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.