Thursday, February 07, 2019

Whistling Dixie

Give it up for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Castigated by conservatives for appearing "sullen" during most of the State of the Union address, Ocasio-Cortez responded "We’re flying without a pilot. And I‘m not here to comfort anyone about that fact."

Finally we have an elected official who will speak truth to power, never shade the truth and always keep her eye on the prize.

I'm joking. Prior to the vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee to pass the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Senate floor, Ana Maria Archila famously confronted Republican senator Jeff Flake as he stood in an elevator. Afterward, Flake cast his "aye" vote on the condition that there would be an updated FBI investigation of Kavanaugh before the nomination would be decided in the full chamber.

There was in fact an investigation before the US District Court of Appeals Judge was approved 50 to 48. And so following to the State of the Union address on Tuesday, Representative Ocasio-Cortez appeared on MSNBC with her guest, Ms. Archila, and stated that Archila's act demonstrated

any normal person in any one moment can have the courage inside them to step up in a critical moment that can change the course of our country and I think that's what Ana Maria did in that moment in the elevator and it did change the proceedings of the vote. Senator Flake as a result of her testimony and the way she expressed her story asked for a further investigation before this vote proceeded.

It was only 34 days since becoming a member of the United States Congress, and already Ocasio-Cortez was declaring victory where there was none. She proclaimed "a critical moment that can change the course of history" because Flake "asked for a further investigation before this vote proceeded."

If (a huge "if") the Supplemental Background Investigation did change the course of history, it only added slightly to Brett Kavanaugh's margin of victory

The FBI investigation was under the control of the White House, with a strict time limit and the individuals to be interviewed subject to approval by Senate Republicans.  Neither Kavanaugh nor his accuser, Christine Blasey-Ford, was interviewed despite the plea of Blasey-Ford's attorneys.

Instead of the report itself being released, the Senate Judiciary Committee, headed by Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa, issued an executive summary, which appeared to clear Kavanaugh. However, though the report concluded "there is no corroboration of the allegations made by Dr. Ford or Ms. Ramirez,"  USA Today reported at the time

an aide to a Democratic senator on the Judiciary Committee said Friday that the executive summary released by Republicans is "flat out wrong."

"We are prevented by Senate rules from saying how and why, and we choose to respect Senate rules," the aide said.

Assuming the aide was neither lying nor misinformed, the FBI report did not exonerate Brett Kavanaugh.

"Something is rotten in Denmark" goes the old saying. At the time, it appeared to most Democrats that the supplemental investigation was inadequate. In light of the remark of the anonymous aide, it appears that the investigation itself may have been nearly thorough but that the committee's majority misled the American public.

Democrats lost.  Enhancing his phony image as a thoughtful moderate, Jeff Flake won, as did senators Grassley and McConnell and President Trump. Nonetheless,  the courageous but ultimately ineffectual Ana Archila did not "change the course of history,"  however much Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wants us to believe otherwise.

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