So just when things with the Brett Kavanaugh nomination were looking completely terrible and Jeff Flake looked the Jeff Flakiest he could be, the Senate Judiciary Committee gathered to advance Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the full Senate, and then ... Oh look, it's Jeff Flake being "brave," or a pushover, or BOTH AT THE SAME FREAKING TIME. If nothing else, we all have to say Schmeff Shmake's name in headlines and note that he did a thing, so hooray for old wossname. Let's Wonksplain what the momentarily senior senator from Arizona actually did, shall we?


Here's the dealio, only some of which is absolutely solid: Flake decided he would agree to vote the nomination out of committee, but to also call for a one week delay in a final floor vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation, during which MAYBE the FBI can reopen its background check process. Flake and other senators from both parties have subsequently said they will not vote on the nomination unless there is an investigation, no they will not.

The only thing that's absolutely certain here is that the nomination is now out of committee. Now we have to see whether other people who are not actually bound by the informal agreement in the Judiciary Committee will do what Flake et al are asking for: To delay the vote, Mitch McConnell will have to say yes. That may very well happen, since McConnell may not have enough votes to cram through the nomination if some Republicans abstain.

Oh, but there's a far bigger complication: No matter what the Senate asks for, if it asks for anything, the White House has to ask the FBI to reopen the investigation, because Executive Branch. Shortly after the committee vote, Donald Trump said he'd defer to the Senate, but that means virtually nothing, since he has no idea what was going on:

"I'm going to let the Senate handle that. They will make their decisions," Trump said. "They'll do a good job. I'm just hearing a little bit about it... Whatever they think is necessary they will do."

Once he hears more than a bit about it, Trump might very well say no, because he thinks the FBI is full of Democrats who are out to get him and steal his strawberries. If Trump refuses and insists the floor vote go forward immediately, then we're back at the shruggy emoticon. Jeff Flake and the "moderate" Republicans may very well say "ah, well, we tried to be bipartisan but whatchagonnado, huh?" Would additional delay shake loose some votes? Nice to think so, but depending on the goodwill of Republicans doesn't win a lot of bets.

In case you were inclined to say "good on Jeff Flake," we'd just like to say aw hell no. He COULD have withheld a yes vote from passing the nomination out of committee, a far more definite form of leverage. He COULD have voted this morning for Richard Blumenthal's motion to subpoena Mark Judge.

But you know who we will thank? Ana Maria Archila and Maria Gallagher, the two women who held a Senate elevator door open this morning and gave him a talking-to about the need to listen to survivors:

Archila wasn't letting him go:

On Monday, I stood in front of your office [...] I told the story of my sexual assault. I told it because I recognized in Dr. Ford's story that she is telling the truth. What you are doing is allowing someone who actually violated a woman to sit on the Supreme Court. This is not tolerable. You have children in your family. Think about them.

I have two children. I cannot imagine that for the next 50 years they will have to have someone in the Supreme Court who has been accused of violating a young girl. What are you doing, sir?

Flake really wanted to leave. That door wasn't closing. Gallagher gave him an earful:

I was sexually assaulted and nobody believed me. I didn't tell anyone, and you're telling all women that they don't matter, that they should just stay quiet because if they tell you what happened to them you are going to ignore them. That's what happened to me, and that's what you are telling all women in America, that they don't matter. They should just keep it to themselves because if they have told the truth, you're just going to help that man to power anyway.

That's what you're telling all of these women. That's what you're telling me right now. Look at me when I'm talking to you. You are telling me that my assault doesn't matter, that what happened to me doesn't, and that you're going to let people who do these things into power. That's what you're telling me when you vote for him. Don't look away from me.

Look at me and tell me that it doesn't matter what happened to me, that you will let people like that go into the highest court of the land and tell everyone what they can do to their bodies.

You want a profile in political courage? There they are -- your fellow citizens. Flake of course didn't say Archila and Gallagher were the reason he called for a delay in the confirmation vote. But we're happy to give them credit, whatever he says.

[NYT / CNN]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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