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INSIGHTS | Gender politics divide the nation and Colorado

Author: Joey Bunch - October 8, 2018 - Updated: October 29, 2018

Retired Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, right, administers the Judicial Oath to Judge Brett Kavanaugh in the Justices’ Conference Room of the Supreme Court Building on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. Ashley Kavanaugh holds the Bible. At left are their daughters, Margaret, background, and Liza. (Fred Schilling/Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States via AP)

America should heed the advice uttered routinely on the radio by former University of Colorado football coach Rick Neuheisel: “Get yourself together.”

If politics is a sport, the roughness of gender politics is too unnecessary. Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court battle, leading to Saturday’s narrow Senate confirmation vote, gave a fresh look at how divided we are. Neither side, other than those allegedly in the room, know what happened, but politics is a game of conflated certainty.

But it laid bare other conclusions that might worry us all.

The Portland (Maine) Press-Herald editorial board puts it this way: “We have never had a Supreme Court nominee who ripped off the nonpartisan mask the way Kavanaugh did [during his Sept. 27 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing] and identified himself as an enemy of a political party that represents the policy preferences of millions of Americans.” (Kavanaugh later said he regretted his “sharp” tone.)

It’s a partisan battlefield on which Kavanaugh has fought before. In the 1990s, Kavanaugh was an investigator for independent counsel Ken Starr’s pursuit of Bill Clinton. Two years ago, Starr was brought down as president of Baylor University, when players abused women and those in authority looked the other way.

The ugliness has been deep on both sides, but it seemed to hit bottom when Fox News contributor Kevin Jackson tweeted that Kavanaugh’s three accusers, including Coloradan Deborah Ramirez, were “lying skanks.” Fox News responded by firing him.

> RELATED: Colorado woman accuses Kavanaugh: Here’s all of CoPo’s coverage

Another Colorado woman soon after told our Republican senator, Cory Gardner, that she too had been a victim of Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual misbehavior in 1998.

Kavanaugh put Gardner on a political land mine before his re-election run in 2020, which effectively starts now. He also is the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, work that will be judged on whether the GOP suffers a once-unlikely lost majority after the midterms. If Republicans lose the Senate, chances are Trump won’t ever get another Supreme Court pick through.

Gardner — having said Kavanaugh would make “an incredible Supreme Court justice” before sexual-misconduct allegations him had emerged — later said that accusations against him by Christine Blasey Ford and by Ramirez should be heard by senators.

> RELATED: Cory Gardner’s wife was sent beheading video amid Kavanaugh confirmation battle

Anyone who thinks the courts aren’t political has to be crazy now. And if you’re on the wrong side of the political majority, you’ll be on the wrong side of law. Our founding fathers couldn’t have had this in mind.

Allegations involving male politicians’ behavior around women are part of Colorado’s election landscape this year, as well. Six male legislators were accused of misconduct in the past year.

State Rep. Faith Winter, a Democrat from Westminster, and other women made allegations that got Rep.  Steve Lebsock of Thornton expelled from the General Assembly. She’s running against incumbent Republican Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik of Thornton for a pivotal seat that could swing the balance of power in the state Senate this year.

Last spring, Martinez Humenik filed a misconduct complaint against Democratic Sen. Daniel Kagan of Cherry Hills Village for using the women’s restroom three times during the 2017 legislative session. The findings of the investigation, completed in June, were leaked out six weeks from Election Day. Kagan has apologized repeatedly and called it an embarrassing mistake. The Senate rest rooms at the time were not marked as male or female, and Kagan was in his first term in the upper chamber.

In the governor’s race, Walker Stapleton’s pick for lieutenant governor, state Rep. Lang Sias, has had his sterling military career dragged through the mud based on, well, attendance.

In 1991 he went to the Tailhook Association’s convention for military pilots in Las Vegas, when sexual assaults and random drunkenness became a national scandal.

Of the 4,000 attendees, 100 service members were implicated. None of them was named Sias. That’s about 2.5 percent of those who were there. Democrats used a very broad brush to spread an allegation that never got traction when it was brought up in Sias’ failed bid for Congress in 2010, but long before the #MeToo environment.

But if Democrats are implying the Tailhook investigation conducted immediately after the fact was incomplete or wrong, how could they insist thatthat an investigation of Kavanaugh would provide accuracy or justice 36 years later?

> RELATED: Pat Schroeder takes on Stapleton’s running mate over Tailhook scandal

Tables turned quickly on the Democrats. It took only a week of shopping around the Sias smear before a 27-year-old police report surfaced to suggest Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jared Polis manhandled a female employee.  Ultimately, she was the one charged with a crime for trying to tote out business documents, as he blocked her way. A temporary restraining order against him was soon dropped.

While Kavanaugh roasted on a D.C. spit, Republicans in Colorado tried to build a fire under Polis.

The fight is emotional on both sides, and, yes, the stakes are high.

Many religious voters have been focused on placing another conservative justice on the high court to finally overturn the landmark abortion ruling Roe v. Wade. The public arena is a dirty place, and the smudge of politics is a means to an end.

In the Bible, Paul the Apostle wrote a letter to the missionary Titus about convening group of faithful elders on Crete to lead the way on good conduct and doctrinal purity for God’s believers. Paul warned Titus about false teachers who would use the word of God to mislead followers.

“Avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless,” wrote the right-hand man of Jesus.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.