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Photo: Jared King, Navajo Nation

The New York Times has a nice, frustrating interview with Lisa Murkowski, the senior US Senator from Alaska, who unlike fellow Republican "moderate" Susan Collins of Maine doesn't sound like she's simply looking for excuses to vote in favor of confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Nice, because Murkowski genuinely sounds like she wants Christine Blasey Ford to be taken seriously and not just seen as a minor inconvenience on the way to a rubber stamp confirmation. Frustrating because nope, she's too smart a politician to show whether she's leaning toward voting yea or nay. Hey, it's still better than Mitch McConnell's transparent cheerleading.

"We are now in a place where it's not about whether or not Judge Kavanaugh is qualified," Ms. Murkowski, a key swing Republican vote, said in an extended interview in the Capitol Monday night. "It is about whether or not a woman who has been a victim at some point in her life is to be believed."

That's encouraging! And she seems to have been working pretty hard to push her fellow Rs -- almost all of 'em fellows -- to give Dr, Blasey more respect than a speed bump, which is how McConnell and Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley have behaved so far.


This is all good, as far as it goes:

She said she worked behind the scenes last weekend to ensure negotiations between Republicans and the accuser's lawyers did not fall apart because of an "arbitrary timeline." She canceled a meeting of the Senate committee she leads on Thursday to ensure her schedule was clear. And although she is not on the Senate Judiciary Committee, she will be watching.

"All you can try to do is be as fair as possible to ensure that at the end of the day justice is delivered," Ms. Murkowski said.

Would have been nice if Murkowski had managed to persuade the committee to subpoena the alleged eyewitness everyone seems to conveniently forget, Kavanaugh's drinking buddy Mark Judge. Murkowski also isn't buying into the Republican rhetoric that Brett Kavanaugh is but a poor wee lamb being unjustly smeared by a cabal of crazed Democratic women, although of course in rejecting that framework, she had to invoke "both sides."

"We are at just a difficult place because the conversation is not rational on either side," she said. She added: "Just look at some of the hateful things that are being said out there. How do you dial that back?"

"We need to be able to listen," she said, pledging to take Dr. Blasey seriously. "We have to listen to what she will say on the record, under oath, and what Judge Kavanaugh will say on the record, under oath."

Again, way better than Susan Collins, who seems more committed to wishful thinking when it comes to Kavanaugh and Roe v. Wade. In what can only be counted as a triumph of surrealism, Collins said, "I do not believe he's going to repeal Roe v. Wade" in an interview teaser yesterday. If she explained herself further in the full interview on Showtime's "The Circus," we haven't seen anything about it. Collins also said that of course she's still undecided on Kavanaugh, because "How could I decide before hearing the testimony of Professor Ford?" So THAT'S clarifying.

Yesterday, in response to the New Yorker story on Kavanaugh's second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, Collins issued a rather vague tweet saying the Senate should hear from Ramirez, too, though it's awfully vague on whether she means Ramirez should be somehow squooshed into Thursday's hearing with Dr. Blasey, or just suggesting that Grassley's very impartial investigators privately interview her, or what.

Maybe Collins was inviting Ramirez to submit her testimony via an Instagram video after the hearing. That might do the job, too.

Still, if Lisa Murkowski manages to show a little political grit like she did on last year's Obamacare repeal, and VAWA before that, maybe there's reason to think she can convince Collins and other "moderates" to risk the wrath of Trump and vote down Kavanaugh's nomination? We won't be betting any False Acquisitions on it, but it could happen.

[NYT / Slate]

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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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