The year was 1987. Less than an hour after President Ronald Reagan nominated D.C. Circuit Judge Robert Bork to the U.S. Supreme Court, then-Senator Ted Kennedy took to the floor of the Senate to denounce Bork in the most exaggerated rhetoric that Chamber had seen since the Civil War. Kennedy painted a dystopian portrait of an inevitable America of segregated lunch counters, back-alley abortions, midnight police raids, government censorship, and the end of individual rights.
Whatever you think of Bork’s judicial philosophy, Kennedy’s speech was nothing more than politically motivated slander. Unfortunately for our political health, it was an effective one and has become the Democrats’ go-to playbook ever since. Like the boy who cried wolf, the Democrats’ desperate cries of racism, misogyny, and callousness to the weak have become so formulaic and predictable that they no longer carry any power to persuade.
Americans were told that Clarence Thomas was a sexual predator, Neil Gorsuch harbors disdain for ordinary Americans and will only side with the rich and powerful, and Brett Kavanaugh was a serial rapist who masterminded a gang rape club reducing the nation to a Senate-led forensic audit of his high school yearbook. Democrats claimed confirming these nominees would destroy America. Yet, miraculously, the United States still exists and none of the doomsday predictions ever came to pass through any of these judges.
In Texas, we used to say: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” You would think the Democrats would have learned by now that the American people are in on the joke and are too smart to be fooled twice. But they haven’t. In fact, after failing to stop a single Supreme Court nominee with these calloused tactics since Bork, the Democrats and their allies are now even employing them against lower court nominees. When Neomi Rao, the daughter of Indian-born Parsi immigrants, was nominated to the D.C. Circuit Court, her religious beliefs were questioned, and she was attacked by Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) as a sexist and a racist. Figure that one out if you can. The daughter of immigrants from India is a sexist and a racist. The Senate Democrats’ inquisition continued with their interrogation of Amy Coney Barrett and Brian Buescher, as both were told to explain themselves for being Roman Catholics. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) went as far as to declare to Barrett that the “the dogma lives loudly within you.” Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) questioned whether Buescher’s membership in the Knights of Columbus made him unfit to serve as a judge.
And recently, the inquisition lamps of the Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats were trained on Steven Menashi, nominated by President Trump for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals based in New York. It began, predictably, when MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow declared that Menashi, who is Jewish, is a bigot for writing an article defending the legitimacy of Israel. That attack didn’t gain traction, so CNN then interjected just days later that Menashi’s college writings demonstrate he is a misogynist, a racist and a homophobe. Sound familiar? The Wall Street Journal and other publications have already thoroughly debunked these attacks, so there is no need to re-plow that soil here.
I want to offer some advice to my friends on the left. The politics of personal destruction is poisoning our public life and our culture. And, its practitioners (and there are some on both sides of the aisle) are losing credibility. They increasingly look petty and devoid of any real vision, courage, or leadership.
Margaret Thatcher once said she was cheered by overtly personal attacks because “if they attack you personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.” The American people have sensed this, which is why Steven Menashi soon will join the ranks of lifetime-appointed federal judges.
An even more important question is, will we continue to smear qualified men and women who are nominated for high office in this country simply because we disagree with their politics or worldview? If we don’t stop soon, we are going to find ourselves caught in a whirlpool we can’t escape from while the best among us refuse to put themselves through the confirmation process. The place for these fights is at the ballot box, not the confirmation hearing. President Obama was right when he said elections have consequences.