Live Skunk In The Senate

Tuesday evening the Washington Post lifted the veil of secrecy surrounding identity of the woman the 11 male Republican Senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee had chosen to hide behind when it published the name of Rachel Mitchell. Ms. Mitchell is the Sex Crimes Bureau Chief in the Maricopa (AZ) County Attorney’s Office. Immediately Loudon Wainwright III’s 1972 novelty song Dead Skunk In The Middle Of The Road played in my mind. Let’s explore.

As of this writing all reporting is that Mitchell is a very nice lady and a competent professional. That may be but I still don’t like the smell of this situation.

First off, other than political optics why did the Republicans have to bring someone in from the outside? Are we to believe that none of the eleven feel competent to question Judge Kavanaugh or Dr. Ford? If so that is interesting since one currently sits fourth in line to the Presidency and another four have either run for that office or appear extremely likely to in 2020. How are you going to stand up to Vladimir Putin and his worldwide attack on democracy if you are afraid to question these two witnesses?

The only logical conclusion is that Mitchell was hired because of political optics. That being the case I certainly hope the 11 cowards are covering her expenses and compensation. (I’m sure the American taxpayers – a/k/a us – are.) Is this another display of Republican fiscal conservatism?

Dr. Ford’s accusations are not the only credible ones and she has named witnesses along with corroborators of her story. Why are Kavanaugh and Ford the only people being heard. My conclusion is because the Republicans want to make it a he said/she said with total disregard for pursuit of the truth fearing that the truth would derail the nomination.

Why did the Republicans have to go all the way to Arizona for a lawyer? The District of Columbia is one of the nation’s “legal capitals”; don’t they have any sex crimes in DC? Why not nearby Maryland or Virginia for that matter? In fact Maryland might be the most appropriate choice because the only allegation they have the “courage” to somewhat “investigate” allegedly occurred in Maryland.

When I think of Maricopa County Arizona the first thing that comes to mind is former long serving Sherriff Joe Arpiao. Arpiao is a racist xenophobe who was the recipient of a Donald Trump pardon for contempt of court. Maricopa County doesn’t exactly have a sterling national reputation for the fair and equitable administration of justice! It is unfair to paint an entire county with a single brush, but why would you go there?

I can confidently predict the vote of 20 of the members of the Committee regardless of where this hearing goes and who testifies. The only vote even remotely in question is that of Republican Jeff Flake of Arizona. Was the selection of Mitchell a way to influence his vote? Flake has often talked a good game but in the final analysis he is almost always just another Trump enabler.

Another interesting fact is that Kavanaugh’s original “ambassador” was then former Arizona Republican Senator Jon Kyl. With the passing of John McCain, Kyl is back in the Senate occupying that seat. Did that have anything to do with Mitchell’s selection?

The vote out of Committee will be 11-10 one way or the other. In the unlikely event that Kavanaugh is on the short end Mitch McConnell (on Trump’s orders) will still advance his nomination to the full Senate for confirmation. That is where Kavanaugh’s fate gets interesting. Kyl is a solid aye vote where McCain would have been a question mark especially considering the expedited fashion in which the nomination has been handled. While several Senators have been mentioned as question marks I have consistently felt the only keys are Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Lest I be accused of attacking someone sans the courage to name them here are Flake’s ten cowardly peers: Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee of Utah, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and John Kennedy of Louisiana.

The last line of Mr. Wainwright’s song pretty much sums up my thinking on this matter: “And it’s stinking to high, high heaven.”        

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