EDITORIAL: Behind the Kavanaugh hearing

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Forget, for a minute, the national spectacle provided by Bret Kavanaugh, Christine Blasey Ford and the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Because the thing in front of the cameras changes almost every day. It’s important, in times like this, to keep your eye on the ball.

The SCOTUS hearing is largely theatrical. What’s real is the looming election — early voting starts in a couple weeks — and the reality that no one, except maybe the Russians, knows what will happen.

So the Kavanaugh Rage Tour becomes just another election opportunity, which looks like a win-win for Democrats. If Kavanaugh gets the nomination, Dems can capitalize on voter outrage to perhaps give them the edge in November. If it gets kicked down the road, Dems can use the Senate races to rally voters to try to block the nomination.

Why would the nomination get postponed until after the election? The answer probably has nothing to do with the FBI investigation, which is scheduled to end on Friday and has already unearthed some tantalizing, but distracting, details.

Republicans, too, could use this to catalyze their base in the upcoming election, framing it as a last gasp of the “real America” or something. Unless they’re expecting to lose in the election, or if it’s very important to get this particular man on the bench.

There are a couple other things to consider as well.

A raft of new polling comes out this week. So perhaps Senate candidates might want to see what their constituents think before weighing in on this very important issue.

And later this month SCOTUS is scheduled to adjudicate Gamble v. United States, which concerns the double-jeopardy rule as it applies to state and federal charges. If the court decides that someone charged with a federal crime cannot be again charged at the state level, a presidential pardon would give anyone who earned one a complete pass on even the most heinous convictions. Can you think of anyone in need of such a pardon?

As marvelous a spectacle as it has been, and continues to be, there is a lot more going on here than Kavanaugh.

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