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News / Clark County News

Press Talk: No way on BK, but …

By Lou Brancoccio
Published: October 6, 2018, 6:03am

Thanks, but no thanks.

For me, that’s the obvious, correct answer to this cluster frenzy surrounding the Senate’s confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Frankly, it should be a no-brainer. Easy-peasy.

Unfortunately — barring an epiphany — Republican senators won’t follow the sage advice I’ve occasionally dispensed to those in power: Don’t do stupid stuff. The conservative darling drunk, the man with the hands, the boys-will-be-boys poster boy, is about to get supremed. (I just made that word up.)

So how did we get to this dark place? It’s easy to blame Donald Trump because, well, he’s to blame. But despite Trump’s bringing Kavanaugh’s name forward, rejection of this character should have been easy. But here’s where — step by step — Kavanaugh’s supporters got it wrong.

• • •

First, there are too many attorneys and attorney wannabes in the Senate. Why is that a problem? Because they wanted to turn this process of vetting the soon-to-be Supreme Court bad boy in a trial.

Am I right? The Republicans bring in an outside prosecutor to question Christine Blasey Ford — one of the women accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assault. That sure feels like a trial. Then that prosecutor, Rachel Mitchell, exacerbates the issue even further by concluding that a “reasonable prosecutor” would not bring a case against Kavanaugh. Huh? Bring a case? What case? Again, it’s feeling like a trial. But there is no defendant. So if it’s not a trial, what is it? And why is that important? Read on.

• • •

I was pretty much minding my own business when I came across this Facebook post from my good buddy Brent Boger. Boger is a Washougal city councilor and an attorney for the city of Vancouver. He’s a moderate Republican and I’ve grown to respect and love this guy. He even came to visit me in Florida, where I hang my hat in the winter.

Not only that, Boger has a goal of visiting every Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant in the world. That would include places like Japan, Malaysia, Colombia, Hong Kong and Indonesia. How do you not love a guy like that?

Despite my love for him, I simply don’t agree with him on some stuff. Still, I respect what he has to say. He’s a bright guy. So when I read his view on Kavanaugh, I respected it. But I couldn’t disagree more.

“Both Ford and Kavanaugh were credible. I’m sure both believed they were telling the truth. Then I go to the next step and look at corroboration. Ford has none. Kavanaugh has corroboration. Kavanaugh carried his burden,” Boger wrote.

“I believe a Supreme Court justice must be bound by the text of the Constitution and not treat it as a ‘living’ document. Kavanaugh understands that.

“He should be confirmed.”

So Boger — in my view — stumbled down the rabbit hole like so many other Kavanaugh supporters did. He looked at this as a trial. He couldn’t find any corroborating evidence (legal stuff) to support Ford’s claim, so he concluded Kavanaugh should be appointed.

I object, your honor! And here’s why: This is (dramatic pause required here) a job interview, not a criminal trial. That is critical. We’re hiring somebody for a pretty important job. There are no “beyond a reasonable doubt” rules in a job interview.

Do I have to say it again? Yes. This ain’t no legal case. This is a job interview. And there is a huge difference between hiring someone and finding someone guilty of something.

Think about that for a second.

Our legal system is rightfully set up under this premise: We would gladly let 99 guilty people go free rather than convict one innocent person. But the hiring process is pretty much the opposite. If something smells fishy in a job interview, you simply move along. There will be other good, clean candidates.

So when Boger posted his view that Kavanaugh should be confirmed, I couldn’t resist sticking my nose in.

“So ask yourself this question, Brent,” I wrote. “All the information you’ve read and heard, do you take a chance and hire this guy? Or do you say to yourself, ‘I can find someone just as conservative (if that’s what you’re looking for) without all this baggage?’ “

Still, Boger wouldn’t budge.

“So all we need to destroy one’s career is one uncorroborated allegation? I would hire him.”

Oh my!

Of course there was so much more going on than one uncorroborated allegation. There was the binge drinking, the inappropriate writings in his yearbook, the other alleged sexual assaults, his angry demeanor at the hearing … the list goes on and on.

I went out and checked with another longtime local attorney to ask him essentially the same question. If he had an opening for an attorney, and he had all the information that we’ve all read and heard (including Kavanaugh’s Yale pedigree and his work to date) do you hire this guy?

His answer was short and to the point: “No way.”

Again, the key to this entire mess is to remind yourself that this is a job interview.

Look, I get that to the victor goes the spoils. Trump won the election. There will be a conservative appointed to the court. But conservative judges who would be qualified to sit there are a dime a dozen. They’re everywhere.

So why take a chance on this guy?

The answer is they shouldn’t. But politicians will be politicians. And they are, indeed, prone to doing stupid stuff. I guess we’ll see you in November.