BY SCOTT HAWKINS
Like many Alaska Republicans, I had high hopes that, in the end, Sen. Lisa Murkowski would do right by Brett Kavanaugh and vote to confirm him. Many if not most of us really thought she would.
After all, she has been a reliable vote on past Republican Supreme Court nominees, most recently in favor of Neil Gorsuch.
I thought to myself, yes, she is often ponderous and indecisive on big, important votes, waiting until the dramatic 11thhour to announce her decision. And yes, the bigger and more important the vote, the more she seems likely to go against the sensibilities of Alaska Republicans.
But surely, she would get this one right. Wouldn’t she?
Surely, she would have the backbone to stand up to the left-wing pressure groups and the millions they spent on Alaska TV and radio ads in recent weeks.
Surely, when not a single shred of corroboration was uncovered by the FBI investigation into Ms. Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegations from high school, she would consider that sordid matter closed and join her fellow senators, Jeff Flake and Susan Collins, in supporting an outstanding, high quality nominee.
Surely, she would understand the high stakes for Alaska, for our lands issues, for regulatory overreach, and for the very integrity of our nation’s judicial selection process.
Surely, she would remember that, at the end of the day, she claims to be a Republican.
Wouldn’t she? Wouldn’t she?
Nope. She didn’t.
I happened to be in Washington, DC when she voted “no” on advancing Kavanaugh to a full floor vote, and when she made her subsequent Senate floor speech.
Even from that far away, I could feel the emanations of shock and outrage from Alaska Republicans.
A number of friends and colleagues from other states have sent me messages to the effect of, “how could she?”
I really don’t know the answer. By way of explanation, all I can offer is my own observation that the more divisively partisan is the vote, and the further away is her next election, the more likely Sen. Murkowski is to channel her inner Democrat and vote accordingly.
It also appears that Sen. Murkowski was a no vote on Judge Kavanaugh early on.
Why? I can tell by the weakness of the excuse she offered in her floor speech – that Judge Kavanaugh was not temperamentally fit to be on the court. That his emotional self-defense of his character in the face of uncorroborated sexual assault allegations had created “an appearance of impropriety.”
Really? No kidding? She disqualified him because he is human? Because he was less than cerebral and circumspect in the face of the most scurrilous, most vicious, most hurtful, most family-damaging allegations ever to be levied against a Supreme Court nominee?
There is not a speck of evidence to support any of the awful allegations raised against Judge Kavanaugh, in fact there is a lifetime of impeccable behavior that stands in stark opposition. Moreover, Judge Kavanaugh’s record as a federal judge is stellar, including on many issues of critical importance to Alaska. His intellect is excellent.
So our senior senator had to grasp at straws. With no other straw available to her, she grasped the “temperament” straw, the most subjective and insubstantial straw there is.
The trouble is, that straw is also false. There was no “appearance of impropriety” in Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony. There was only a deeply human appearance of searing pain and indignation.
There is no issue of temperament. Quite to the contrary, Kavanaugh’s entire career has demonstrated a sterling temperament.
The only questions of temperament and fitness for office in this whole disgusting affair lie with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, her fellow Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and our own Sen. Murkowski.
By voting no, Sen. Lisa has demonstrated an unwillingness to stand up to Outside-funded, left-wing pressure groups that make massive media buys in Alaska because they know she is likely to cave in to them.
A lack of political courage. Temperament.
With her no vote she has also endorsed the shenanigans of Sen. Feinstein and her fellow hatchet-wielding Democrats. They gave her the cover she felt she needed, and she promptly ducked underneath it.
On her, the viciously partisan tactics of Feinstein and Company worked, almost guaranteeing they will be used again, even though Murkowski decried the nastiness of the process in her floor speech.
You can’t have it both ways, Senator, denouncing the Democrats’ tactics while rewarding them with your actions.
When I saw the news of Murkowski’s Kavanaugh votes, I was more than outraged. I was saddened; saddened, because I really like Alaska’s senior senator as a person. She is warm, gracious, and in her best moments she is a statesman and a fierce advocate for Alaska.
But at her worst, like she has been this week and is rather too often, she is maddening and embarrassing.
Sen. Murkowski probably thinks that four years will be plenty of time for her Republican primary voters to forgive and forget her Kavanaugh debacle.
I strongly suspect she is wrong, if she thinks that. This is a defining, brand-damaging moment for her, one that conservative leaning Alaska super-voters who pay attention will never forget.
I certainly won’t.
Scott Hawkins is an Alaska business owner and a Republican. He was a candidate for governor earlier this year.