As my colleague Stephanie Mencimer wrote in her curtain-raiser, Republicans were well aware going into the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson that they had very little to criticize in Jackson’s record, and were therefore likely to resort to hypocritical, dark-money attacks to oppose President Joe Biden’s nominee.
But dark-money attacks would end up taking a backseat to false, malicious smears that inevitably devolved the Jackson hearings into a Republican conspiracy circus. Notably, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and others tried, falsely and deceptively, to portray Jackson as soft on child pornography defendants, perhaps in an attempt to signal their allegiance to the party’s bizarre QAnon fringe. (Read more here on the right’s history of turning child abuse into a political weapon.)
A Quinnipiac poll released late last week shows that their bad faith strategy may have backfired. More than half (52 percent) of respondents disapproved of how Republican senators handled the process, and only 27 percent approved. Democratic senators got a much more favorable review: 42 percent approval vs 32 percent disapproval. (These ratings were the reverse, more or less, of how people viewed senators’ handling of the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, notes the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake.)
But don’t expect Cruz and Hawley to care much about the broader public reception. The intended audience for their malicious performances absolutely ate it up—and that’s likely all that matters to these senators.