With less than two days before Sen. Chuck Grassley's deadline for Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were both high school students, to file her written testimony with the Senate Judiciary Committee in order to appear before them on Monday, a few things are becoming clearer, making this entire event somewhat easier to prognosticate.
First, Ford has made herself unavailable to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and is only speaking through her lawyers. She is claiming death threats. I don't deny that she's gotten them, because there's some really sick people out there. But she hasn't gotten death threats from the U.S. Senate.
Second, in a transparently absurd game of goalpost-moving, Ford's attorneys first demanded that the FBI launch a formal criminal investigation, then backed off to merely requiring every "witness" they've implicated to appear before the Senate. Ford's attorneys made this last demand after Sen. Grassley, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to them detailing their options, and why the FBI is not in a position to run an investigation.
Grassley invoked the Constitution and Senate procedures in his letter, stating "The Constitution assigns the Senate and only the Senate with the task of advising the President on his nominee and consenting to the nomination if the circumstances merit. We have no power to commandeer an Executive Branch agency into conducting our due diligence." The letter was a powerful signal that the White House, which is standing behind Kavanaugh, and Republicans in the Senate, are closing ranks and challenging Ford (and Sen. Dianne Feinstein) to produce evidence.
Third, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a potential swing vote if Democrats can break her away from Kavanaugh, said publicly that she thinks "it's not fair for Judge Kavanaugh for her not to come forward and testify." In other words, Feinstein's plan to launch the allegation and let it just hang in the air, hoping for the mob to run Kavanaugh out on a rail, has failed miserably.
Fourth, Republicans have the votes to confirm Kavanaugh, and there's nothing Democrats can do, having expended all their wet powder. They're clearly out of ammunition.
Now there's going to be Democrats engaging in face-saving, grandstanding, and a massive press effort to dig anything (literally, anything) up to embarrass, smear or otherwise create a cloud over the head of one of the most respected jurists in America. And Kavanaugh will be confirmed.
It's going to be a disaster for Democrats, because there's no way on earth Ford's lawyers are going to let her testify under oath. Democrats are scared to death she'll break, or publicly recant, or commit perjury. Let's be real here: Feinstein and Schumer don't care what happens to Ford. Don't get me wrong: they wish her no ill. They'd be happy if she gets a book deal, or lots of face time on MSNBC, but they'd be just as happy to flush her down the memory hole as a lying conniver if she's caught in a scandal.
The best outcome for Democrats, which is a bad outcome, is to carp and complain and spin to the media, agree to not let Kavanaugh defend himself alone on Monday, horse trade some written statement from Kavanaugh that the press will ignore or parse to death out of context, and let the vote happen next week.
If they let the vote happen next week, they've got time to recover and use Kavanaugh's presence on the Supreme Court to energize their base to vote them in more solidly and take control of the House. The more they let this disaster play out further, the more their base will become demoralized when they can't deliver the goods on Kavanaugh. Better to cut bait, make Ford a hero, and win in November than to hang themselves on a small detail like the untruth of her allegation.
In this scenario, nobody really wins. Yes, the Republicans get Kavanaugh on the SCOTUS. Yes, he's conservative, but he probably won't overturn Roe v. Wade (or Webster or, Stenberg v. Carhart), at least not with such a slim margin. It will take another nominee to do that, which seems likely given the age of Justices Ginsburg and Breyer (85 and 80, respectively).
Better for Republicans to keep their own defenses tight when it's time for another nomination fight. And I guarantee the Democrats are already preparing for it, building a war chest of as much oppo research as possible.
The end game is that President Trump gets his nominee. The country, for a few weeks, forgets about Russia and Mueller. Democrats get to campaign off Kavanaugh and take the House (probably not the Senate), and in two weeks we'll move on and nobody will remember Dr. Ford. It will just be another third act of lousy Kabuki theater.
Until the next time it happens all over again.