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Played like a fiddle

- If this is America's new brand of justice, I'd rather take my chances with the mob.

- When did the Senate get demoted to the role of stage manager at a third rate burlesque house?

- And when exactly in the recent past did an accuser get to follow the accused?

You have to hand it to the Democrats. They can take an old, beat up fiddle and play it like a Stradivarius when it comes to out-maneuvering the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC). By waiting until the 11th hour to drop their 'sexual misconduct' bombshell last week on America they have succeeded in turning the tables on Chuck Grassley and those other old White guys (Republican men) who supposedly hate all women.

All the usual suspects were involved in castigating the Rs, like Democratic Senator from New York (and presumptive 2020 Presidential candidate), Kirsten Gillibrand who lambasted the Republican-led Committee with a menu of charges that ranged from misogynism to plain old hatred for victims. Not to be outdone, the Democrat Senator from Hawaii and SJC member, Maizie Hirono displayed an unusually shrill and sophomoric rant (even for her) against men in general. The Democrat male members of the SJC were also front and center like Senator Sheldon Whitehouse who chose to channel Perry Mason and 'go lawyerly' with his arguments as did Senator Richard Blumenthal whose steely demeanor reminds one of a medieval executioner. (Colder eyes can only be found in alabaster statues in museums.) Blumenthal repeated the Dem's view that an FBI investigation was necessary AND that it should take all the time necessary to complete.

The Rs were having none of it, but the fiddlers weren't giving up the stage. THEY were calling the tune and pushed the sexist, miscarriage of justice arguments, hard. Meanwhile, Ms. Ford's attorneys were busy playing cat and mouse with Chairman Grassley, or as they call it, negotiating. Their demands were to have an independent woman lead the questioning; to allow only one camera record the testimony; to protect their client from the 'death threats' she claims to have received AND to make Judge Kavanaugh testify before she did! There were others, but these were the main ones.

To me, this all sounded like preparations for a Muhammed Ali championship fight (pick your favorite fight) or a meeting of world leaders at a G8 Summit. Who would enter the stage first? Where would they sit? In what order would they be called on for comments? How about the group photo? Who would they stand next to? Maybe I'm missing something, but when did the Senate get demoted to the role of stage manager at a third rate burlesque house? And when exactly in the recent past did an accuser get to follow the accused?

As of this writing, the Ford legal team passed on acquiescing to the chairman's deadline of 10:00 pm Friday evening. Instead, they stated they needed another 24 hours. If I didn't know better, I could swear they sounded like the owners of a car that was about to be repossessed and who knew that the tough guy with the warrant in his hand was Casper Milktoast in disguise. So much for extended deadline number one. Touchdown, Team Ford. Egg on their face, SJC. The 'old White guys' were once again outfoxed and humiliated by a woman who has now successfully delayed the Senate vote (the Democrats' wish all along). She is the new Harriet Tubman and Joan of Arc rolled into one and has proven that the 'sisterhood' is mightier than the empty threats of Republican Senators who are petrified of being seen as unfair to women. Ms. Ford's team has effectively removed Lady Justice' scales and replaced her sword with a bag of marshmallows, leaving the blindfold as a mere fashion accessory.

I'm sure that there is at least one more shoe to drop, perhaps several more, and that the Democrats and Ms. Ford will successfully swat down more empty threats as they slow-walk to the finish line, leaving an eminently qualified Supreme Court nominee's reputation in tatters with nothing to show for his efforts than a one-way ticket back to the D.C. Circuit Court...or impeachment if the Democrats win in November. If this is America's new brand of justice, I'd rather take my chances with the mob.

Stephan Helgesen is a retired career U.S. diplomat. He is now a political analyst, strategist and author of nine books and 900 articles on politics, economics and social trends. He can be reached at

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