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Jonah Goldberg On Kavanaugh And Conservatives


It should be no surprise that the Supreme Court confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh has divided people along partisan lines, but this event is also pushing some people into somewhat different stances. Jason Whitman, a former staffer for Republican Mitt Romney, wrote on Twitter, I consider myself a reasonable man, was vehemently anti-Trump, but this clown show from the Democrats and their media cohorts is enraging. That's what Whitman says. Jonah Goldberg of National Review passed this on, adding, I hear this kind of thing from so many conservatives who are not Trump fans. I feel the same way, he says. And Jonah's on the line from California.

Hi there, Jonah.

JONAH GOLDBERG: Hey, Steve. It's great to be here.

INSKEEP: What would enrage you, as someone who has been a critic of President Trump?

GOLDBERG: Well, it's difficult to know where to start - the arguments from many senators about guilt by association, which basically go along lines of because Brett Kavanaugh is a white male from a elite prep school and since other men are known to be guilty of these things, he must be, too; the argument from the senator from Hawaii, Mazie Hirono, who says she finds Brett Kavanaugh's accuser credible because she doesn't like the way he has ruled from the bench and views the Constitution; the various gamesmanship that has been played on this whole spectacle from the beginning; the fact that if Dianne Feinstein took this seriously, she would have brought this up during the hearings rather than waited till the eleventh hour.

INSKEEP: You've got a good list there. I just want to go through a couple of those. First, you said Dianne Feinstein. We're talking about the senator from California, one of the people who originally received a letter from Christine Blasey Ford, the first accuser that we knew about. She says she kept that letter confidential because she was asked to by the accuser herself. Why would you presume that that's Democratic gamesmanship?

GOLDBERG: Because eventually, she or her staff leaked it to the press. And her attitude since it's been leaked to the press has been one of demagoguery and demonizing the Republicans. One can simultaneously believe that Dr. Ford sincerely believes that what she's saying - or if one can even believe that what she's saying is absolutely true - and still find the cynicism and demagoguery from Democrats and a lot of people in the media outrageous and offensive at the same time.

INSKEEP: Although, let's look at this from the other side when we talk about political cynicism - we have a number of Republicans who are saying, let's hurry up. Let's get this done. Let's get this done before the election. We want this justice. And they don't seem all that worried, actually, about giving the accused that much of a chance to defend himself. They don't want to look too deeply into this at all.

GOLDBERG: That's plausible. I now think that it's in Brett Kavanaugh's interest to have the FBI look at this even though I think the demands for the FBI to look at this were grounded almost entirely in a sort of cynical ploy to delay. I think the Republicans have time and again done what the Democrats demanded. And then all of a sudden, the Democrats changed their demands so as to prolong this even further.

INSKEEP: Although - let me just emphasize one thing, prolong this even further. This hasn't actually gone on very long. It's only been not even a couple of weeks that we've even known about these allegations. In terms of congressional proceedings, this has not been very long. It's only in terms of Republicans wanting to finish before the election that it seems like it's really slow.

GOLDBERG: I think that's an entirely plausible interpretation of the events.

INSKEEP: I mean, it's just reality. It's not been that many days.

GOLDBERG: I agree. But there are, in terms of the political window - the time that the Senate has before these guys have to go back to election - there are not that many days. And the outrage isn't all on the liberal side of the aisle on this. You know, liberals I've argued with over the last week who tell me that the attacks on Kavanaugh are justified because Mitch McConnell blocked Merrick Garland from even getting a hearing...

INSKEEP: He did actually block Merrick Garland. We should mention that when we talk about how there needs to be a rush to get Kavanaugh on now. Go on. Go on.

GOLDBERG: He did. And I have nothing but sympathy with Democrats who were mad about that. But at the same time, that wasn't any violation of democratic norms. That was the Senate asserting its power and doing what the leadership or the majority of the Senate wanted to do. You can say it was ugly. You can say it was bad...

INSKEEP: Or that it was a violation of democratic norms not to give advice and consent as the Constitution calls for. But go on. That's fine.

GOLDBERG: But not holding a hearing is also advice and consent. The Senate is a sovereign, independent body regardless. What they didn't do was do an eleventh-hour attack with a demonized Merrick Garland. No one said that Merrick Garland was an attempted rapist. No one came out with these various allegations that they didn't support with any evidence and that weren't corroborated until very late in the game. And even then, the corroborations are doubtful.

INSKEEP: Is it possible that Kavanaugh is being treated differently because, in his case, the facts are different and, in whatever awkward way, we've learned that there's something that the public wants to look into here?

GOLDBERG: Yeah, absolutely. Again, I haven't made a final judgment on this. I want to hear Dr. Ford. It may be that Brett Kavanaugh is, in fact, guilty of the things he's accused of, although we have not seen anything like serious evidence beyond this one person's testimony. And she's the only person who hasn't submitted anything that is under oath or under penalty of perjury.

INSKEEP: Jonah Goldberg with National Review and the LA Times, always a pleasure talking with you.

GOLDBERG: Great to be here. Thanks, Steve. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.