It's been a dismal week for Democrats.
Some 2020 hopefuls took center stage beginning on Tuesday as President Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, faced a grilling in the Senate Judiciary Committee. But on Thursday, the two wannabe presidents on the committee found out just how unprepared they are.
Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, expected to run for president in 2020, said on Thursday that he planned to release a "confidential" email he claimed shows Kavanaugh talking about racial profiling — and urged Republicans to try to expel him for violating Senate rules.
"Bring it," Booker said. "I’m going to release the email about racial profiling," the New Jersey Democrat said as the third day of Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation hearings began. Then he added in a pure grandstanding move, "This is about the closest I'll probably ever have in my life to an ‘I am Spartacus’ moment."
But the whole thing unraveled minutes later. It turns out the document was already cleared for release by committee Republicans — and speculation began immediately that Booker knew before his pretentious showboating. Worse, the document didn't show Kavanaugh supporting racial profiling — it showed just the opposite.
"The people who favor some use of race/natl origin (sic) obviously do not need to grapple with the 'interim' question," Kavanaugh wrote in the document, referring to terrorism interdiction methods taking place in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. "But the people (such as you and I), who generally favor effective security measures that are race-neutral in fact DO need to grapple — and grapple now — with the interim question of what to do before a truly effective and comprehensive race-neutral system is developed and implemented."
Sen. Kamala Harris of California tried to improve her chances for the 2020 Democratic nomination as well. She accused Kavanaugh of stonewalling on whether he had spoken with Trump’s law firm about special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 campaign.
Kavanaugh said he didn’t know every lawyer at the law firm to which she referred — there are more than 300 there — but Harris went on and on for nearly 10 minutes, accusing Kavanaugh of dodging the question.
"Is there a person you're talking about?" Kavanaugh asked. Said Harris: "I'm asking you a very direct question, yes or no. ... I think you can answer the question without me giving you a list of all employees of that law firm."
"Well, actually I can't," Kavanaugh said.
"Why not?" Harris asked.
"Because I don't know who works there," Kavanaugh said.
"So you're not denying?" Harris declared. "I'll move on. Clearly, you're not going to answer the question."
Harris wasn't done. She brought up the racial discord last year in Charlottesville, Virginia, asking Kavanaugh if he agreed with Trump's statement that "there is blame on both sides."
Kavanaugh deferred, saying that's a political question. Harris interrupted: "Sir, I'd appreciate it if you'd answer the question."
"I am, Senator," he responded. "One of the things judges do, following the lead of the chief justice, is stay out of current events, because it risks confusion about what our role is. We are judges who decide cases and controversy. We are not pundits. We don't comment on current events. We stay out of political controversy."
Harris got bent out of shape. "Are you saying it's too difficult a question?" she asked. "Are you saying that you can't answer that very simple question?"
"I'm saying that the principle of the independence of the judiciary," Kavanaugh said, "means that I can't insert myself into politics in either of two ways: commenting on political events or, in my view, commenting on things said by politicians — a governor, a senator, a congressperson, a president. I'm not here to assess comments made in the political arena because the risk is I'll be drawn into the political arena."
But Harris just went on and on.
Meanwhile, a video emerged of another 2020 hopeful, former Vice President Joe Biden, calling a cameraman a "pr*ck." Oddly, another so-called frontrunner, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), didn't make a peep (smart move, Uncle Bernie).
The whole mess shows just how weak the 2020 field is. Biden is 75, Sanders 76. The party is looking for new blood after the Hillary Clinton debacle, but it sure ain't those guys. On the other hand, Booker, 49, and Harris, 53, are clearly not ready for the prime time, judging by their pathetic performances at the Kavanaugh hearings.
All of which might be why Trump on Thursday declared: "Guess what? Nobody is gonna come close to beating me in 2020."
Looking at the Democratic field as it stands now, he might just be right.