November 23, 2018
Noemie Emery: One Anita Hill moment was enough, voters say
Did Dianne Feinstein lose the Senate for Democrats by trying to turn the battle of Justice Brett Kavanaugh into a second Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas fight? The answer is most likely yes.
Sen. Feinstein, D-Calif., didn't intend this when she made the calculated decision to create the fiasco.
But decide she did. She sat for more than two months on the letter that Christine Blasey Ford sent her. She released it only when Kavanaugh's hearings were over, so that a new, stand-alone hearing would have to take place. She refused Ford's request that she be allowed to testify in private and in California, as was her preference, making her instead come to Washington to participate in a day-long, nationally televised he-said-she-said extravaganza.
Was it because Feinstein wanted this to have the same look and feel as the Hill-Thomas hearing, which she saw as a win for her side and her party, and which also had made her a star?
If the Republicans won in the sense that Justice Clarence Thomas has served and still serves on the Supreme Court, a case can be made that the Democrats won even more. Liberal rage at the outcome made 1992 the Year of the Woman; empowered former President Bill Clinton and his lovely wife, Hillary; gave a rebirth and reboot to the feminist movement; gave the Democrats an issue to run on in perpetuity (or at least until 1998 and the Monica problem); and, last but not least, brought in four new female senators, Feinstein among them. Two of them are still in the Senate today, and three of them stayed a very long time.
No wonder Feinstein remembered the experience as something good for her party and worth reliving.
But although the script and the players both appeared similar, the conditions around them had become very different. Feinstein thought that the court fight would swell the blue wave and make it unstoppable. In fact, it was stopped in its tracks.
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