Two-Buck Chuck

In fairness, Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyer, Debra Katz, deserves applause. She’s got the guts to push, despite her only leverage being the thin thread of empty rhetoric about bullying a “sexual assault survivor” by giving her client, a grossly belated witness, the opportunity to testify she requested. Impressive.

Iowa senator and chair of the Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley, however, made himself into the butt of an old joke by extending, for the fifth time, the deadline for Ford to make her call.

Churchill: “Madam, would you sleep with me for five million pounds?”
Socialite: “My goodness, Mr. Churchill… Well, I suppose… we would have to discuss terms, of course… ”
Churchill: “Would you sleep with me for five pounds?”
Socialite: “Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?!”
Churchill: “Madam, we’ve already established that. Now we are haggling about the price.”

–Winston S. Churchill (or not)

The problem with fixing a deadline is that it’s a deadline. Dead. Line. And as soon as it’s no longer a deadline, and the line keeps moving, and moving, and moving, it’s just meaningless noise, a negotiating position wrapped in deadline clothing. And if your deadline is just a term of negotiation, so too is everything else you’ve said. Nothing is firm. Nothing is real. And your word means nothing because you failed to keep it.

The chairman, Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, made his announcement on Twitter shortly before midnight, after lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford sent an angry email accusing his staff of bullying their client. He directed his tweet to Judge Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, who has flatly denied the assault and has said he is eager to testify to clear his name.

“Judge Kavanaugh I just granted another extension to Dr Ford to decide if she wants to proceed w the statement she made last week to testify to the senate,” Mr. Grassley wrote, using Twitter shorthand. “She shld decide so we can move on I want to hear her. I hope u understand. It’s not my normal approach to b indecisive.”

It was less than a week ago that Katz said Ford would do “whatever is necessary” and testify, yet here we are still haggling about the price. The deadline was 10:00 p.m last night. This morning, it’s 2:30 p.m., as Katz argued that she needs 24 hours to make a decision that had already been made. Quite remarkably, Katz managed to pull this off, but she couldn’t have done it without Chuck Grassley’s willingness to play the role of quivering bowl of jello.

There are minor accommodations sought, such as how many photographers and television cameras would be in the hearing room, because Ford wishes not to be “mobbed.” It’s a small detail either way, since there really needs to be only one camera to air the hearing, even if more would do better. Minor details like this could easily be accommodated by a gracious Grassley in the usual course, and don’t serve as a deal breaker.

But as to the demands of investigation, sequence of witnesses, who gets to be there, who does the questioning, witnesses don’t get to dictate the shots, and if Grassley had his pants on, he would have told Katz that until she commits to testify on the date proffered (absent a serious reason why it wasn’t possible), there’s no point in working out the minor details.

Grassley didn’t. Grassley wavered. He wiped away the line in the sand and drew a new line. Once that happens, he’s “established” what kind of guy he is and everything else is just haggling over the price. And Senator Dianne Feinstein is making the most of Chuck’s squishiness.

It’s clear that Republicans have learned nothing over the last 27 years. Bullying a survivor of attempted rape in order to confirm a nominee—particularly at a time when she’s receiving death threats—is an extreme abuse of power.

Feinstein has nothing but ridiculous rhetoric, and yet Grassley handed her the ability to beat him to a pulp. No matter what Grassley did, he would be castigated for something by those antagonistic to Kavanaugh, and happy to use Ford for their own purposes, so his wavering stood no chance of somehow pacifying his opposition. They were not to be pacified short of withdrawing Kavanaugh and confirming Merrick Garland, while impeaching Trump and delaring open borders. No matter what accommodations Grassley made, they wouldn’t be enough to satisfy Ford or Feinstein, as their purpose isn’t to be satisfied.

Presumably, a time will come, perhaps today, that Chuck Grassley finally pulls the plug and we either have a hearing or a vote. Both sides had been absolute in their positions on Kavanaugh before the first witness was called, so the cries have all been for show, as will be a hearing should it ever happen unless Kavanaugh performs so badly that not even Ed Whelan can show his face.

If nothing else comes of this hearing, which is a possibility, at least we now know what Chuck Grassley is. And “indecisive” isn’t the word I would use.

8 thoughts on “Two-Buck Chuck

  1. Jardinero1

    Grassley has the committee votes to send the nomination to the floor. He doesn’t need Ford’s testimony for that. Very likely he has the floor votes to approve the nominee. He doesn’t need Ford’s testimony for that either. The committee has subpoena power and can command Ford to appear under terms they dictate. So he doesn’t need to negotiate if he doesn’t want to. So what we are left with is that Grassley plays along because he foresees a benefit to it that we don’t.

    1. SHG Post author

      He’s trying to create plausible empathy so that the cries that follow won’t be that he ignored Ford’s allegations and put an att rapist on the Court. He may also have some dissent within the party about pushing this ahead without giving Ford a hear. Problem is how far he goes to make it happen. Does he accomplish more by acquiescing than he would have accomplished by agreeing to hold the hearing and allow her to testify, with no conditions like any other witness? If so, does he continue to accomplish that by creating, then waiving, deadline after deadline? Does he not then cause the very damage he’s trying to avoid when he finally says “no more,” as he eventually must?

      1. Jardinero1

        My tin foil hat theory is that Grassley stalls while Republican operatives dig and interview and bribe for anything negative about Ford that can be leaked into next week’s news cycle ahead of the hearing. Then, when Ford does testify, the Judiciary Committee can appear to be gentlemen while the committee’s designated interlocutor gives Ford the kid gloves treatment.

  2. 2mques

    Grassley’s a politician, and like every politician he wants to be on the side of power and he also wants to stay in office. That’s why he’s negotiating, and that’s the only reason why he’s negotiating.

  3. Billy Bob

    It’s the Year of our Ford, Time Magazine’s Woman of the Year.
    The GRASSley is greener on the other side of the fence, some wag opined. How simpley ghastley! We like his graspy voice however, very mid-western.

    Enough said. The senator is trying his darndest to finesse a delicate situation, and not repeat the infamous Anita Hill o’ Beans/Tempest in a Teapot fiasco which basically backfired into pandemonium for all. Can’t you see?

    The man knows how to crush Feinstein and her crew of impudent “me-too”, royal blue snobs. It’s called political water torture. Like we said twice already: the Kav is in like Flynn unless Murkowski and Collins flip. So far, no indication of any such outcome. So let the cameras roll. (A total waste of time and filmstein.)

  4. B. McLeod

    It was already obvious that he lacked the moral courage to stand up to this ploy. Too many senators still too afraid of The Terror to shut this circus down and move on.

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