Search and Destroy: Inside the Campaign against Brett Kavanaugh
The stream-of-consciousness tweets from @senatorshoshana, similar to those a campaign puts out during a presidential debate, demystified the confirmation process. When Democrats complained about the “committee confidential” designation on allegedly secret documents, Weissmann shared the news of Senator Feinstein’s private letters urging that certain documents related to Kavanaugh be kept secret. When Democrats decried the influence of the nefarious Federalist Society, she tweeted, “I’ve been a member of the evil secret Federalist Society since I was 16. Join them!!! #FF @FedSoc.” An untraditional player, she proved invaluable. “People were watching it live like it’s a pop culture event, which is bad,” she said. “They should be watching it and trying to learn. And they took everything out of context, where I had to go back and then explain, ‘No, you f—ing idiots, this is how this stuff works.’ ” Independent of the Kavanaugh confirmation team, Weissmann was free to mock the opposition as she pleased. “It’s so weird how on TV it looks so legit, but sitting there, it’s a room full of people,” she tweeted after leaving the hearings. She said she regrets that since she did not sit through all four days of the hearings, she missed the opportunity to “flash my @fedsoc gang sign,” a tongue-in-cheek reference to Zina Bash’s supposed white supremacist hand signals. Weissmann thought the hearings, with their irresistible opportunity for showboating, constituted a hazard for senators with electoral aspirations. Abandoning substance for show, they were tempted to pander to the small-dollar donors with an ostentatiously hostile grilling of Trump’s nominee. The hearings were “all politics and no courts,” complained Weissmann, who was struck by how many questions had nothing to do with the law—a remarkable change from past hearings. She and her R Street Institute colleague Anthony Marcum compiled a searchable and sortable database of the text of the confirmation hearings for every Supreme Court nominee since Lewis Powell and William Rehnquist, who were both nominated on the same day in 1971 by President Nixon. “If you look at any Judiciary Committee hearing and compare it to past ones, the substance is just dead,” Weissmann said. “What stood out to me [at Kavanaugh’s] was no one knew anything, or if they knew they were pretending not to, which is really depressing. For the left and right, it was just crap. Crap everywhere.” Kavanaugh emerged from the first days of his Senate Judiciary Committee hearings largely unscathed, in some measure because of his supporters’ preparation and his opponents’ misbegotten strategy.