Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman: Understanding Murkowski’s ‘No’ vote

Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s recent vote of ‘no’ to move Judge Kavanaugh forward in confirming his placement on the US Supreme Court has drawn the ire of the local Republican base. Then, in a move of class, Murkowski announced she will vote ‘present’ in the confirmation vote. Although she is still a no vote the move will cancel out the fact that Montana Senator Steve Daines will not be present for the vote due to his daughter’s wedding. This allows the spirit of the vote to stay intact.

I don’t agree with Murkowski’s no vote but I understand her reasoning. Kavanaugh had his spotlight moment in a process that turned into a circus. His character was being hacked to pieces and understandably he was on the warpath to restore it in the public eye. He failed in that moment. In contrast to Justice Clarence Thomas’s moment, Kavanaugh lost composure. Although I can’t blame him for his temperament during the hearing, much more was expected from him. Where Thomas is remembered for his ‘high tech lynching’ remarks that cut the legs out from beneath those who opposed him, Kavanaugh’s moment will be remembered more for his angry outbursts and his exchange with Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar.

The Senator asked a simple question about Kavanaugh’s drinking habits and whether he’s experienced blackouts. Fair question, I thought, but his response has put him in the light of that defiant preppy high school kid. “No, have you?” One should never answer a question with a question. And while Klobuchar could of gone Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from 'Full Metal Jacket' on Kavanaugh “I’m asking the questions around here, thank you very much,” she didn’t. She kept her composure despite revealing the struggles of alcoholism in her own family.

I believe Murkowski sincerely weighed everything before her vote. I believe her when she says she grappled with her vote all the way to the last minute. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with her a couple of times. I find her to be very sincere.

The manner in which this confirmation has transpired has turned off many in this country, mostly those who support Kavanaugh’s confirmation. My thought until earlier this week was why not have these proceedings behind closed doors? Why have this circus out in front of the world? How embarrassing this is for America? But then I started paying attention to the side conversations that were playing out in this country.

Women were coming forward to share their own stories. The #metoo movement has truly moved from the stereotypical casting couch to everyday women and men. My eyes were opened when friends of mine began to share their own stories. It’s difficult to comprehend their pain.

Whether I believed Kavanaugh or Ford was no longer the issue. Whether Kavanaugh would be confirmed may have been the driver of the vehicle but allowing the baggage that had been riding in the trunk to come out and be exposed became the more important issue.

This apparently was not lost on Murkowski. A senator who represents a state that leads the nation in sexual assault on women and children can’t and shouldn’t ignore this issue. Although Kavanaugh can’t be pinned with this behavior and all anyone can do at this point is speculate whether he did or didn’t assault Ford, Murkowski still had to weigh the affect that this vote has on sexual assault victims in this state. No other senator had that much weight on them, including our junior Senator Dan Sullivan or Maine Senator Susan Collins.

We don’t have to look any further than the recent case in which Justin Schneider physically assaulted a Native woman and then did an unspeakable act upon her. His punishment was nothing more than two years with one year suspended which led to his release. I can understand the outrage whether directing it at Brett Kavanaugh is justified or not.

Kavanaugh’s inability to show the composure of a chief justice in his own defense and the fact that women who have been assaulted feel like they have to suffer in silence gives me sympathy for Murkowski’s actions. I don’t have to agree with her vote but understanding where she is coming from and how she came to her decision makes it easier to swallow.

By:  Dennis Anderson
Source: Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman