Grassley Victorious

During the battle over the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, we heard a lot of praise for Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, and even George W. Bush for their handling of the crisis, all for good reason.

What we need to hear now is a round of applause for Chuck Grassley’s superb handling of the nomination – particularly after things got weird once the hearings closed. (We should also mention Rachel Mitchell, who also came in for unwarranted criticism.)

Chuck Grassley has been criticized incessantly and repeatedly throughout the confirmation process. Take a look a selection from a single day’s comment threads on one conservative site:

Get Grassly outta there then. They need a man to deal with the anitics that'll be'a'comin' for that show.

Grassley needs placed out to a grassy pasture.

Is Grassly going to allow the Soros loud mouth demons in the room to make a stink, like he has in former hearings?

Grassley has weak knees.

There is no way Grassley pulls this off. Imagine the therapy he will need!

Grassley is taking his cowering one step at a time.

The consensus appears to have been that Grassley was giving in to the Democrats for no reason at all, that he could easily put a stop to the whole circus and schedule a vote right this minute! with no problems or consequences.

This is the product of an attitude widespread among too many conservatives – particularly grassroots conservatives of the Tea Party/MAGA school – that if a politician is not racing toward the cliff edge screaming “Banzai!” while waving a tattered Old Glory, he’s not doing anything at all, and is a RINO, a traitor, and very likely a commonis’ as well.

There exists some justification for thinking along such lines, for the simple fact that it’s often true – McCain and Ryan spring immediately to mind. But it’s not always the case, and just as often, such conclusions are the product of ignorance of process, of the way that things are actually done, along with lack of understanding of strategy, tactics, and the function of politics. In truth, it shows absolutely no awareness that anything like strategy, tactics, etc., even exist.

Just take a look at what Grassley – along with the rest of the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee --were facing.

  • A completely corrupt opposition party, fronted by gangsters such as Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer, who are capable of any action whatsoever to achieve their aims.
  • An ideologized and mobilized feminist contingent, acting in near-hysteria under the #MeToo banner
  • A complicit media
  • At least four Republicans – Jeff Flake (the most appropriate name since Archbishop Weakland), Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, and Bob Corker – who could bolt for any reason or none.

The technical term for this is “overwhelming odds.” To top it off, he had to factor in the upcoming midterms, which an evidently complacent Republican grassroots was willing to sit out under the impression that “Trump will take care of it”, while the Dems were growing progressively more energized.

Grassley had to somehow navigate between the Charybdis of wrecking the nomination and the Scylla of giving the Democrats a flaming issue going into November. This required an extraordinarily deft touch, along with vast and detailed political knowledge and long experience.

Grassley’s strategy was simple: give ‘em enough rope. The first accusation from Christine Blasey Ford was a strange farrago, full of inconsistencies, factual lacunae, and logical impossibilities that was immediately repudiated by every witness she named. But simply dismissing Ford was out of the question – the corrupt legacy media, backed by the Dems and hordes of keening feminists, would have portrayed that as a “second rape” by vicious, unfeeling Republican white males, upending both Kavanaugh’s confirmation and, very likely, the midterms as well.

Instead, Grassley posed as sympathetic and accommodating to all but the most unreasonable demands of Ford and her cohort while maintaining a tough front against the Democrats. The intent was to play the angles carefully in the hopes that the opposition would do something to hang themselves.

And boy, did they. Thanks to Rosemary’s Baby, we got the New Yorker accusation -- if anything, even more demented than Blasey Ford’s. Then Michael Avenatti, the world’s most eligible porn lawyer, leapt in, dragging Julie Swetnik behind him. Then came the anonymous letter over the transom, the Long Island Sound rape cruise, yet another anonymous letter….  Everything but a troop of altar boys claiming that Kavanaugh had molested them when he was a priest.

It’s not enough to say that the Dems and their supporters jumped the shark, it’s more like they jumped every shark in the northern hemisphere and were last seen bouncing over the horizon in the direction of the Philippine Sea.

This is what made Kavanaugh’s confirmation possible. The Democrats made world historical fools out of themselves (historians in times to come will marvel that a national political party ended up depending on a porn lawyer), the GOP RINOs were completely boxed in (the comments from Collins and Murkowski both had the air of women whining about being forced to do something they’d prefer to duck), and the MAGA grassroots was kicked awake out its torpor. Now the Democrats are facing a nightmare scenario: a confirmation defeat, a Supreme Court justice primed against them for decades to come, and an enraged populist right in war paint and with lit fuses stuck in its hair poised to strike in November.

What exactly, is wrong with this result? What, precisely, would any of the critics do differently?

And who is responsible for all this? Chuck Grassley, and none other. Grassley with his calm demeanor, his abiding respect for protocol, and his cold, unblinking gunfighter’s eyes.

This acts as a serious rebuke to conservatives for whom the cry of “RINO” has become the default. If the world was as simple we wished, we could just make that wild-eyed charge against overwhelming odds that always wins the day. We could order the fleet to Tokyo Bay on December 8th, or schedule the D-Day invasion for 1942, with full confidence that somehow things would work out.

But it isn’t, and we can’t.

The master strategist Sun Tzu wrote, “If you understand both yourself and your enemy, you need not fear the outcome of a hundred battles.”

The populist right needs to work on understanding its own side, it if wants to keep on winning those battles.

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