Steve Moore’s chances of making it onto the Federal Reserve Board aren’t looking so hot right now – amid a previously unreported tax lien and a series of controversial writings about women and sports.
In the face of his flagging candidacy, Moore heaved a Hail Mary pass on Tuesday in an interview with a conservative talk radio show in North Dakota: He invoked the name of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
“I was so honored when I got the call from Donald Trump. But all it’s been since then has been one personal assault after another and a kind of character assassination having nothing to do with economics. … They’re pulling a Kavanaugh against me,” Moore said. “I’m taking a 60% pay cut to do this job. So, you know, I mean, it’s true public service.”
Moore knows exactly what he’s doing here. He knows that for conservatives, Kavanaugh’s name creates an image of a rabid pack of Democrats – and the media – pushing all sorts of negative information into the public in hopes of keeping someone who doesn’t share their belief system from serving in public life. They’re doing it again! Moore is (trying) to say. Don’t let them!
Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court last year became a massive moment in the long-running struggle between liberals and conservatives in the country. Nominated by Trump to fill the seat of retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, Kavanaugh was regarded as the vote that would swing the Supreme Court to the right for years to come if he was confirmed. The fight over Kavanaugh went from a big deal to a MASSIVE deal when Christine Blasey Ford, a California professor, alleged that the SCOTUS nominee had sexually assaulted her when they were both teenagers. Kavanaugh vehemently denied the allegations and, along with President Donald Trump, suggested Ford was being put up to all of it by Democrats. (Ford contacted the office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, but was insistent that no elected official of either party had urged her to tell her story publicly.)
The Senate eventually confirmed Kavanaugh on a narrowly divided, largely partisan vote – but the wounds (on both sides) remained. Said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to The New York Times: “The virtual mob that has assaulted all of us in this process has turned our base on fire.” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a candidate for her party’s 2020 nomination, called the process a “total sham.”
Although it’s been more than six months since Kavanaugh became the newest member of the Supreme Court, the anger – on both sides – hasn’t dissipated. And it’s not likely to go away anytime soon – if history is any guide.
There are two recent examples of just this sort of thing in politics.
* In 2002, then-Rep. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) ran ads that seemingly questioned the patriotism of Sen. Max Cleland (D) who had lost three limbs serving in Vietnam. (The ad used Cleland’s vote against the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security as akin to aiding and abetting the likes of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.) Chambliss won. But for nearly a decade after that race, Democrats still cited the ad – and Chambliss’ lack of remorse – as a sign of everything they were fighting against.
* In the 2004 presidential race, a group known as the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ran ads raising questions about Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry’s (D) military service. Kerry initially ignored the ads, believing his service in Vietnam – on which he was leaning heavily in his campaign against President George W. Bush – stood for itself. The ads worked, however, and Kerry responded too late – contributing to his loss in a very winnable race. Democrats since that election have warned about being “swift-boated” – caught off guard by nasty ads with only a loose affiliation (if any) with the truth. (Kerry himself spent years after his loss seeking to debunk the claims made in the ads.)
The point here is that there are some moments in politics that cut so deep that, for some people, they never really heal. They might scab over. You might even forget, at times, about the cut. But the slightest bump, the smallest provocation, and the scab tears off. And you’re reminded, again, of the pain – and anger – that the original moment caused.
That’s what Moore is hoping for. That by aligning himself with Kavanaugh – and what he represents to conservatives – he will become the new cause celebre of conservatives who view the left as ravaging horde intent on forcing out anyone who doesn’t line up with their radical beliefs.
Will it sell? A seat on the Federal Reserve doesn’t usually evoke the passion of either party’s base the way a seat on the Supreme Court does. But for Moore, whose nomination is floundering, he’s got very little to lose and a seat at the most powerful monetary force in the country to gain.