No, do it to that other guy

Well now they’ve gone too far. Libeling women who allege sexual assault is one thing, but when you start libeling a man you might be going too far. Unless he’s her husband or something. Right-wing fixer attempts to deflect the allegations about Kavanaugh by tweeting that hey maybe it’s this other guy, here, look at his yearbook and photo and stuff.

On Thursday night, Twitter was aflame with the news that a prominent conservative legal strategist had gone public with the theory that another man may have been the perpetrator of the alleged sexual assault against Christine Blasey Ford.

The strategist suggested that Ford had confused this man for Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh — and worse, he named the other man, in effect publicly accusing him of committing attempted rape.

Named him, tweeted photos of him, the whole nine yards. Now he has tweeted that that was very naughty and he’s terribly sorry.

Ford promptly denied that she had confused this man for Kavanaugh, whom she has accused of attacking her when both were teenagers during the 1980s. But, as some commentators — including conservative ones — were quick to point out, Kavanaugh needs to clarify whether he had any advance knowledge of this strategy of pinning the blame on someone else.

It will be interesting if they ram through Kavanaugh anyway and then the other guy sues him and wins.

The conservative strategist who floated the alternate attempted rape theory, Ed Whelan, has been active in conservative judicial circles for a long time, and is close to Kavanaugh. He posted a long Twitter thread — which we will not link to here, and nor will we name the man he fingered — that rather creatively employed maps and floor plans of the house at which he suggested the attack took place. Whelan also posted the name and a photo of his alternate suspect.

I of course promptly went to Twitter to find it all, which is how I know about Whelan’s laughable apology. It’s easy to find, but I’ll follow the Post’s lead in not linking or naming. Lindsay Beyerstein on Twitter said don’t RT it either – screenshot it, talk about it, but don’t RT.

Whelan apologized on Friday morning for publicly implicating someone else, and it is, of course, entirely possible that Kavanaugh had no knowledge whatsoever of Whelan’s machinations. Indeed, it is worth noting that if Kavanaugh did know or had been involved in discussions about this strategy, and either tacitly allowed Whelan to proceed or did not actively try to stop it, it would constitute an unthinkably boneheaded blunder on his part — which perhaps militates against him having knowledge of it.

Still, there are plenty of unanswered questions about this episode hovering around. On Thursday, a top aide to Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, a Utah Republican who sits on the Judiciary Committee, mysteriously told everyone to keep an eye on Whelan’s Twitter feed. Though he has since claimed no knowledge of Whelan’s plan, this at least raises questions as to whether it had come up in internal discussions with the very Republicans who will vote to move Kavanaugh’s nomination forward.

Indeed, Steve Schmidt, who ran Supreme Court confirmation efforts for Republicans in the past but recently left the GOP, was quite forceful on this point. He noted on Twitter that “it is inconceivable to me,” based on his own experience, “that Whelan published that email without discussions, debate and assistance” from the White House and “GOP Senators and staff.”

When it comes to Kavanaugh’s role, we do know, per The Post’s reporting above, that Kavanaugh was at least involved in discussions about a strategy that would acknowledge the attack but say it was someone else — which itself invites further questioning.

Even Tom Nichols agrees with that much.

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