Michael Bennet Tears GOP a New One Over Kavanaugh and Ramirez

Senator Michael Bennet discusses U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, seen at his White House introduction.
Senator Michael Bennet discusses U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, seen at his White House introduction. YouTube
Last night, mere hours before U.S. Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh won a key procedural vote that clears the way for the full Senate to weigh in on his candidacy, Colorado Senator Michael Bennet denounced him and what he characterized as a "shambles" of a confirmation process in uncommonly fiery terms.

Often, Bennet has seemed as in need of an anger translator like the one comics Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele imagined for President Barack Obama. But not this time.

Although Bennet may not have been as pissed off as Kavanaugh was at a hearing last week at which he sorta/kinda addressed accusations of sexual assault made against him by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford — but not assertions by Boulder's Deborah Ramirez that he "thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent" 35 years ago during a college party at Yale University — this typically studious fellow was clearly impassioned.

Not to mention incredibly frustrated.

"This cannot be the standard for how the United States Senate or the federal government should operate," Bennet said at the outset of his address, viewable in its entirety here.

Bennet acknowledged that he had decided to vote against Kavanaugh's nomination weeks ago, largely for policy reasons involving abortion and the judge's previously expressed opinions about presidential power. But he was clearly moved by Dr. Ford's testimony, which he called "credible," and by her example, which he said had "inspired women to tell their own stories, including Debbie Ramirez of Colorado."

Recall that Bennet played a role in putting Ramirez together with her legal team, currently headed by Boulder-based attorney John Clune.

He then castigated the "juvenile taunting we saw the other night from President Trump" when he appeared to mock Dr. Ford at a recent campaign event. Still, he insisted that "President Trump is not the issue here. For all the damage he has done, he is not the cause of our dysfunction. He is a symptom of it."

More problematic, in Bennet's view, was a change in Senate procedure that allows U.S. Supreme Court nominees to be approved with a simple majority rather than the sixty votes previously required. In his view, this switch ratcheted up the divisiveness that has marked the Kavanaugh nomination from the beginning.

Of particular note to Bennet was the decision of both the Senate and FBI investigators to "refuse to actually interview many of the potential witnesses" identified by Ramirez. He also grew heated as he castigated Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for having "the gall" to claim that "there was no backup from any witnesses" to Ramirez's account. "Well, they weren't interviewed!" he exclaimed.

Then, in a demonstration of his fondness for adjectives, Bennet said, "We have exported, Mr. President, the hopefully temporary, mindless, empty, counterproductive, unimaginative, meaningless partisanship from the floor of this Senate to the United States Supreme Court. We should be ashamed of that."

No anger translator necessary.

This post was updated to reflect the outcome of a Senate procedural vote regarding Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts