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Supreme Ambition: Brett Kavanaugh and the Conservative Takeover

a book by Ruth Marcus

(our site's book review)

For Thirty Years, Republicans Have Been Plotting Their Takeover of the Supreme Court

The Amazon blurb says that The Republicans began plotting their takeover of the Supreme Court thirty years ago. Brett Kavanaugh set his sights on the court right out of law school. Washington Post journalist and legal expert Ruth Marcus goes behind the scenes to document the inside story of how their supreme ambition triumphed.

The Kavanaugh drama unfolded so fast in the summer of 2018 it seemed to come out of nowhere. With the power of the #MeToo movement behind her, a terrified but composed Christine Blasey Ford walked into a Senate hearing room to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual assault. This unleashed unprecedented fury from a Supreme Court nominee who accused Democrats of a “calculated and orchestrated political hit.” But behind this showdown was a much bigger one. In Supreme Ambition: Brett Kavanaugh and the Conservative Takeover, Washington Post journalist and legal expert Ruth Marcus goes behind the scenes to document the thirty-year mission by conservatives to win a majority on the Supreme Court and the lifelong ambition of Brett Kavanaugh to secure his place in that victory. In that sense, Marcus has delivered a master class in how Washington works and an unforgettable case study in supreme ambition.

The reporting in Supreme Ambition: Brett Kavanaugh and the Conservative Takeover is also full of revealing and weighty headlines, as Marcus answers the most pressing questions surrounding this historical moment: How did Kavanaugh get the nomination? Was Blasey Ford’s testimony credible? What does his confirmation mean for the future of the court? Were the Democrats outgunned from the start? On the way, she uncovers secret White House meetings, intense lobbying efforts, private confrontations on Capitol Hill, and lives forever upended on both coasts.

Supreme Court of the United States - Roberts Court 2018
Supreme Court of the United States - Roberts Court 2018, including Gorsuch and Kavanaugh

Kavanaugh Believed Democrats Smeared Him with a Calculated and Orchestrated Political Hit

Supreme Ambition: Brett Kavanaugh and the Conservative Takeover is a page-turner that traces how Brett Kavanaugh deftly maneuvered to become the nominee; how he quashed resistance from Republicans who worried he was too squishy on conservative issues and from a president reluctant to reward a George W. Bush loyalist. It shows a Republican party that had concluded Kavanaugh was too big to fail, with senators and the FBI ignoring potentially devastating evidence against him. And it paints a picture of Democratic leaders unwilling to engage in the no-holds-barred partisan warfare that might have defeated the nominee. In the tradition of The Brethren and The Power Broker, Supreme Ambition: Brett Kavanaugh and the Conservative Takeover is the definitive account of a pivotal moment in modern history, one that was thirty years in the making and that will shape the judicial system of America for generations to come.


Ruth Marcus’s Supreme Ambition: Brett Kavanaugh and the Conservative Takeover Is Both a Morality Play and a Political Knife Fight

“Fast-paced, fair-minded, and news-making, Ruth Marcus’s Supreme Ambition: Brett Kavanaugh and the Conservative Takeover goes behind the scenes with all sides in the confirmation battle over Brett Kavanaugh and tells a revealing tale about judges, justice, and the future of the Supreme Court.”— Jeffrey Toobin, New York Times bestselling author of The Nine and American Heiress

“Ruth Marcus’s Supreme Ambition: Brett Kavanaugh and the Conservative Takeover is at once an electrifying account of a flawed judicial nomination and a revealing study of morally corrupt Republicans, and at times politically inept Democrats, in a dysfunctional U.S. Senate.”— David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Barack Obama: The Story and First in His Class

Shrewd, fair, and surprising, both a morality play and a political knife fight, this tale explains how we got here, and challenges us to think about how to adapt our institutions to forces that threaten them
Shrewd, fair, and surprising, both a morality play and a political knife fight, this tale explains how we got here, and challenges us to think about how to adapt our institutions to forces that threaten them

“Shrewd, fair, and surprising, both a morality play and a political knife fight, this tale explains how we got here, and challenges us to think about how to adapt our institutions to forces that threaten them.”— Nancy Gibbs, New York Times bestselling coauthor of The Presidents Club

“Very tough but fair-minded, a wise history. Clearly the best of the Kavanaugh books.”— Bob Woodward, New York Times bestselling author of Fear: Trump in the White House

"Extraordinarily detailed and highly insightful."— Washington Post

"Impressively reported, highly insightful and a rollicking good read."— New York Times Book Review

"Powerful, meticulously researched...An illuminating and evenhanded look at an incendiary event."— Kirkus Reviews

Ronald Reagan and Clarence Thomas in 1986
Thomas with President Ronald Reagan in 1986, while serving as chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

"But his angry insistence that he was the true victim — which took a page from Clarence Thomas’s response to Anita Hill’s sexual harassment charges decades earlier — shifted the momentum in his direction. His railing against 'left-wing opposition groups,' and his charges that the attacks on him were 'revenge on behalf of the Clintons,' skillfully rallied the Republican base. . . . As important as the Kavanaugh battle was for the court, however, there was something even more profound at stake: whether, on the most important questions, our nation is capable of putting the public interest ahead of partisanship, and whether the truth matters. The forces aligned for partisanship and against truth are stronger than ever. The week before this book’s publication date, President Trump told his 67 million Twitter followers that 'the Ruth Marcus book is a badly written and researched disaster. So many incorrect facts. Fake News, just like the @washington post!' It would be hard to imagine a more persuasive endorsement." (Source: Dissecting Brett Kavanaugh’s ‘Supreme Ambition’, Adam Cohen, NY Times)

Much ugliness starts with people drunk at parties
Much ugliness starts with people drunk at parties

Ruth Marcus Believes Neither Kavanaugh nor Christine Blasey Ford Was Lying

"Over time, though, and under the leadership of Executive Vice President and Co-Chairman Leo, the ambition of the Federalist Society became less academic and more political. Its supreme ambition was to stack the courts, and especially the Supreme Court, with jurists who would support a rigid right-wing agenda. . . . at the time of his nomination [Marcus] did not 'see a substantive basis for opposing him.' But when Ford entered the picture, things changed. Although Marcus believes that Ford was probably accurate in her recollection, she also concluded that Kavanaugh was probably not lying about his own memories. This was possible because what 'was so searing to Ford was a passing frolic for Kavanaugh,' who was, Ford testified, 'heavily intoxicated' at the time of the incident. . . . That he was confirmed amid such circumstances, she concludes, will be 'a blot on Kavanaugh' and on the Supreme Court that is 'indelible.'" (Source: The many ambitions that propelled Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Geoffrey R. Stone, Washington Post)

The #MeToo women (given extreme polarization and scorched earth culture war, it was inevitable there would be some), given human psychology and the fickleness of decades-old memories, were there to use their #MeToo power and their tears to keep Kavanaugh off the court
The #MeToo women (given extreme polarization and scorched earth culture war, it was inevitable there would be some), given human psychology and the fickleness of decades-old memories, were there to use their #MeToo power and their tears to keep Kavanaugh off the court

The #MeToo women (given extreme polarization and scorched earth culture war, it was inevitable there would be some), given human psychology and the fickleness of decades-old memories, were there to use their #MeToo power and their tears to keep Kavanaugh off the court.

The #MeToo women have been of various types for the last few years: truth-tellers, fantasizers and self-delusion expressers, attention seekers, liars, score settlers, women expressing hate toward men due to past trauma caused by either the accused or their parents/siblings/relatives or by boyfriends or by rapists, women out to clean up in civil suits because these days a good job of tear-filled testimony can reap large cash rewards since the liberal narrative states that women deserve to be believed and if a male and female disagree, the male is the liar, because women and minorities are victims and white males are evil, lying victimizers.

US Army SHARP Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Prevention Poster
Poster created by Sexual Harassment/Assault Response & Prevention (SHARP) in the US Army

Women Have a Large Variety of Motives for #MeToo Testimony

All this demonstrates that women have a large variety of motives for #MeToo testimony, because #MeToo women have been of a wide variety of types for not just years but centuries. But the critical point here is that some #MeToo women are truth tellers but many others are of the other types. When Bill Clinton was getting accused, many women decided to pile on, hollering ME TOO! The same happened to Donald Trump. How many accusers told the truth versus those looking for a payday or seeking attention, etc.? No one knows.

Women who recorded their sexual assault either get the guy jailed or paying a big settlement. But the rest of the women usually have little if any actual evidence and are relying on memories or imagination or the sexist unfairness of the #MeToo movement in which guys are evil so believe the woman
Women who recorded their sexual assault either get the guy jailed or paying a big settlement. But the rest of the women usually have little if any actual evidence and are relying on memories or imagination or the sexist unfairness of the #MeToo movement in which guys are evil so believe the woman

Women who recorded their sexual assault either get the guy jailed or paying a big settlement. But the rest of the women usually have little if any actual evidence and are relying on memories or imagination or the sexist unfairness of the #MeToo movement in which guys are evil so believe the woman. So, without evidence guys get acquitted in real courtrooms. But in the Kavanaugh matter, people were trying to use tears and hearsay, not evidence, which is hardly fair to Kavanaugh. If the #MeToo women had really had bad experiences decades ago, they would have reported them. But the fact that they waited decades is suspicious and undermines their credibility seriously. Do we really want to smear guys because the #MeToo movement is so popular in liberal circles these days? It seems to us to be a very poor reason to besmirch a guy's reputation.


Marcus Sees an Indelible Blot on Kavanaugh and the Supreme Court; We See a Blot on the #MeToo Movement, Their Unfair, Sexist Ideas, and Their Rush to Judgment without Evidence

Having #MeToo women conveniently pop up when liberals don't like him and want to stop him in his tracks is self serving, unfair, and suspicious at best. Kavanaugh played it smart, fighting emotions and tears with emotions and tears and outrage. If people were going to use such weak things for support, he could play their ugly little game too, and he did. Good for him that he got onto the high court. Women who showed up at high school/frat/campus parties where drunk guys often try to score with young women may not deserve to be molested, but they knew it was a real possibility, yet they went anyway. Perhaps they had unacknowledged desires—this is another truth about human nature. Kavanaugh being confirmed amid such circumstances, Marcus concludes, will be 'a blot on Kavanaugh' and on the Supreme Court that is 'indelible.' We disagree. It is a blot on the #MeToo movement, their unfair, sexist ideas, and their rush to judgment without evidence.

Kavanaugh played it smart, fighting emotions and tears with emotions and tears and outrage. If people were going to use such weak things for support, he could play their ugly little game too, and he did
Kavanaugh played it smart, fighting emotions and tears with emotions and tears and outrage. If people were going to use such weak things for support, he could play their ugly little game too, and he did

Ruth Marcus, a syndicated columnist for The Washington Post and deputy editor of the editorial page, has covered every major institution in Washington, including the Supreme Court, the White House, and Congress, and has written about judicial confirmation battles stretching back to Robert Bork in 1987. A graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School, she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in commentary in 2007.

While the author seems to think that if only the FBI investigation had been more thorough, the nomination might have been stopped, clearly the GOP had the votes and nothing would have been allowed to block their victory. The author appropriately condemns the deficiencies of the hearings. Some serious rethinking of the confirmation process is warranted. Supreme Ambition: Brett Kavanaugh and the Conservative Takeover takes you behind the scenes of the Senate hearing to see the emotional drama leading up to Kavanaugh’s appointment as well as during the explosive hearings themselves.


Similarities to the Clarence Thomas Nomination Are Apparent

The cynical, calculating, opportunistic and ideological manipulations which are required to advance the nominations of controversial Supreme Court nominees such as Bork, Thomas, and Brett Kavanaugh are thoroughly detailed.

Clarence Thomas is wisely against affirmative action, which he, and we, think is a racist idea
Clarence Thomas is wisely against affirmative action, which he, and we, think is a racist idea

Similarities to the Clarence Thomas nomination are apparent: the nominee was considered by many to be an ideological extremist, perhaps even a right-wing reversalist. Compounding Clarence Thomas' PR problem was the spectacle of Anita Hill's testimony. That Hill was considered both then and now by many conservatives to be a liar is obvious. Opponents, on the other hand, thought of her as a victim of what the liberal narrative's dogma has labeled "white male supremacy", which boils down to whites are victimizers and blacks are victims, a toxic and racist generalization if there ever was one. Regardless, Thomas was a quick study. He immediately grasped that success was contingent on casting himself—rather than Hill—as the actual victim. Adapting liberal dogma in self defense, Thomas characterized the hearings as akin to a "modern-day lynching." That made the liberals cringe and give up their nomination opposition.

Liberals, on the other hand, thought of Anita Hill as a victim of what the liberal narrative's dogma has labeled 'white male supremacy,' which boils down to whites are victimizers and blacks are victims, a toxic and racist generalization if there ever was one
Liberals, on the other hand, thought of Anita Hill as a victim of what the liberal narrative's dogma has labeled 'white male supremacy,' which boils down to whites are victimizers and blacks are victims, a toxic and racist generalization if there ever was one

Mitchel McConnell Is Reshaping the Court System to Reflect Republican Values

Mitchel McConnell, the 77-year-old leader of the Senate, is a man widely recognized as the most powerful man on Capital Hill. McConnell made no secret whatsoever of his primary goal: reshaping the court system to reflect Republican values. Given that the Democratic values were going off the rails and reflecting radical leftist ideas of socialism, victimization ideology, political correctness, and a sick form of social justice where the First Amendment was sacrificed on the altar of self righteousness and victimhood and hatered of all white males (the victimizers), Republican values are being chosen by more Americans every day—and not just by the denizens of the basket of deplorables.

Republican values are being chosen by more Americans every day—and not just by the denizens of the basket of deplorables; it turns out the Democrats have gone nuts and tried to bring the media, Hollywood, and the colleges with them
Republican values are being chosen by more Americans every day—and not just by the denizens of the basket of deplorables; it turns out the Democrats have gone nuts and tried to bring the media, Hollywood, and the colleges with them; See Outrage, Inc.: How the Liberal Mob Ruined Science, Journalism, and Hollywood

Fearing backlash, Congressional interrogators of both parties paid token deferential respect to the "#MeToo" movement in their hearing of accuser Christine Blasey Ford's testimony. Was the woman lying? Were her memories flawed—were they mere fantasies? Did Brett Kavanaugh deserve to be pilloried for long-ago unprovable events that Ford somehow, suspiciously, forgot to tell anyone about right after they happened? The liberal narrative's #MeToo needed a Kavanaugh victim to sabotage his nomination and she stepped right up to the plate. She was hoping tears would make good evidence. They didn't.

While initially reserved, Kavanaugh eventually embraced his true emotions, as he realized that his Supreme Court aspirations and his entire future both required and triggered actual outrage. Kavanaugh should have never had to tolerate such humiliating nonsense about unfounded allegations. The Democrats were merely expressing their rage at the way Mitchel McConnell refused to let Obama's liberal justice candidate get a fair chance. Of course, it takes no rocket scientist to realize that if the situatioon was reversed, the playing-for-blood Democrats would have done the same thing. Apparently, humiliating one another's nominees has become part of the right of passage for those with Supreme Court aspirations.

Mitch McConnell 2016 official photo (cropped)
Mitch McConnell 2016 official photo

President Trump calls Ruth Marcus’ book about the Kavanaugh debacle and the rightwing crusade to take over SCOTUS “a badly written and researched disaster.” So of course it’s brilliantly written and researched, since Trump never reads and generally says the opposite of the truth, at least according to the fake news media. The book contains the inference that Trump made a deal with Kennedy to resign if he nominated Kavanaugh. Supreme Ambition: Brett Kavanaugh and the Conservative Takeover is a well written book by a noted journalist who follows the justice system. Kavanaugh knew that the nomination debacle was a partisan smear campaign. And he realized that, in the end, Democrats would do whatever it took to try to stop him. They tried, but they failed, as they should have.


The Liberal Takeover of Government, Hollywood and the Media Was Met with the Conservative Takeover of the Courts and Newt Gingrich's Scorched Earth Political Warmaking

To step back a few paces and try to provide context, we must examine the "Conservative Takeover" in the light of today's hyperpoliticized climate in Washington. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The liberals have spent the last six decades plotting and actualizing a Liberal Takeover of our government, which was launched as part of the 60s rebellion and which evolved from civil rights reforms to thought reform to rewriting history and rejection of not just some of the Founders' principles but the Founders themselves as the evil known as non-PC old white males. To add insult to injury and highlight the social degeneration and metastasization as the Liberal Takeover of our government proceeded apace, the liberals created the mythology of political correctness upon which they based their entire ugly, racist liberal narrative. The Liberal Takeover of our government was augmented by the Liberal Takeover of Hollywood and the Liberal Takeover of our media.

The liberals have spent the last six decades plotting and actualizing a Liberal Takeover of our government, which was launched as part of the 60s rebellion and which evolved from civil rights reforms to thought reform to rewriting history and rejection of not just some of the Founders' principles but the Founders themselves
The liberals have spent the last six decades plotting and actualizing a Liberal Takeover of our government, which was launched as part of the 60s rebellion and which evolved from civil rights reforms to thought reform to rewriting history and rejection of not just some of the Founders' principles but the Founders themselves

All of this rightly panicked the conservatives, so as they detected what was occurring they did as much to further a Conservative Takeover of anything they could, although many old guard Republicans were sceptical at first. But they had been caught napping, so rebel Newt Gingrich attempted a takeover of Congress in 1994 in which he engineered the Republican Revolution and started settling scores—this was the first volley in a political war he desired to begin. Republicans got control of Congress, so Newt was a temporary hero, but it didn't last. Trump is carrying on bomb-thrower Gingrich's tradition of win-at-all-costs, take-no-prisoners, scorched earth dirty politics. Again, The Liberal Takeover of our government, Hollywood, and the media is a national emergency that conservatives rightly are attempting to fight, with their Conservative Takeover, and author Marcus documents this takeover, by highlighting the Kavanaugh affair.

Gingrich believes in the natural law of the jungle, the part of Darwinism that is all about survival of the fittest, but he forgot that Darwin later stressed the gentler, cooperative aspect to evolution
Gingrich believes in the natural law of the jungle, the part of Darwinism that is all about survival of the fittest, but he forgot that Darwin later stressed the gentler, cooperative aspect to evolution

"Few figures in modern history have done more than Gingrich to lay the groundwork for Trump’s rise. During his two decades in Congress, he pioneered a style of partisan combat—replete with name-calling, conspiracy theories, and strategic obstructionism—that poisoned America’s political culture and plunged Washington into permanent dysfunction. Gingrich’s career can perhaps be best understood as a grand exercise in devolution—an effort to strip American politics of the civilizing traits it had developed over time and return it to its most primal essence." (Source: The Man Who Broke Politics: Newt Gingrich turned partisan battles into bloodsport, wrecked Congress, and paved the way for Trump’s rise. Now he’s reveling in his achievements, McKay Coppins, the Atlantic)

Gingrich was a bomb-throwing revolutionary who used his Contract With America as a platform to launch the Republican Revolution
Gingrich was a bomb-throwing revolutionary who used his Contract With America as a platform to launch the Republican Revolution


Wrecking-ball Republicans like Gingrich were a model for Trump's wrecking-ball Republicans who are dismantling democracy, destroying the environment, and lying about climate science
Wrecking-ball Republicans like Gingrich were a model for Trump's wrecking-ball Republicans who are dismantling democracy, destroying the environment, and lying about climate science

Gingrich attempts, in Trump's America: The Truth about Our Nation's Great Comeback, to unmask the various branches of the anti-Trump coalition that are trying to stop "America's great comeback," however, dismantling democracy, destroying the environment, lying about climate science, and screwing the 99% out of even more wealth than Omama did and sticking it in the bank accounts of the 1% is only a "comeback" for the oligarchs! Like Trump, Koch, and many other oligarchs.

They can say Make America Great Again, but Make American Oligarchs Even Richer Again is the real truth
They can say Make America Great Again, but Make American Oligarchs Even Richer Again is the real truth


Make Trump Great Again is closer to the truth than Make America Great Again
Make Trump Great Again is closer to the truth than Make America Great Again

The liberal narrative's #MeToo needed a Kavanaugh victim to sabotage his nomination and she stepped right up to the plate. She was hoping tears would make good evidence. They didn't. Supreme Ambition: Brett Kavanaugh and the Conservative Takeover is a capable although biased page-turner that traces how Brett Kavanaugh deftly maneuvered to become the nominee and how he quashed resistance from Republicans and swatted away a political hit job from the Leftists.