Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-ND (Nick Wass/AP Images for United Way Worldwide)

 

Of the many sorry vignettes in the sordid spectacle of character assassination of Brett Kavanaugh during what was supposed to be a confirmation hearing, one of the sorriest was the involuntary outing of Christine Ford. Ford had contacted Dianne Feinstein’s office and asked to remain anonymous. Rather than pass her allegation to Judiciary Committee investigators, Feinstein or her staff leaked Ford’s identity to the media. This resulted in the sh**show that was Kavanaugh’ last appearance before the Judiciary Committee. Regardless of what you think of Ford and her allegation, we should all be able to agree that Feinstein deliberately set Ford up to be a major player in a political passion play without any regard to what the long-term impact on Ford would be on the off chance that Kavanaugh’s nomination could be torpedoed.

Lest you think this was just Feinstein, think again. It appears that exposing the identity of persons alleging to be sexual assault survivors for transitory political gain is straight out of the Democrat Campaign 101 course.

Heidi Heitkamp is the only Red State Democrat that, barring deus ex machina, you can stick a fork in. She’s running against Republican Kevin Cramer. Because North Dakota only has one Representative, he has a state-wide profile, usually winning by about ten points though in his 2016 re-election he ran 46 points ahead of his challenger. The polls show Cramer leading outside the margin of error.

Cramer supported Brett Kavanaugh and had some harsh opinions about the political climate that insisted Ford and Ramirez and Swetnick had to be believed simply because they made allegations.

“That you’re just supposed to believe somebody because they said it happened,” Mr. Cramer said, alluding to Christine Blasey Ford — who has accused Justice Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers — and, more broadly, women who have come forward to claim that they were sexually abused or assaulted.

Invoking his wife, daughters, mother and mother-in-law, Mr. Cramer said: “They cannot understand this movement toward victimization. They are pioneers of the prairie. These are tough people whose grandparents were tough and great-grandparents were tough.”

Suggesting that the #MeToo movement had created a backlash as the left tried to torpedo Justice Kavanaugh’s nomination, Mr. Cramer added, “The world got to see close up how ugly it can be when you go too far.”

For what it’s worth, I think Cramer is spot-on in his critique and any man or any woman with a brother or husband or son should be terrified of the world we’re creating in which careers and reputations can be burned down based on allegations that are not and cannot be corroborated.

Heitkamp saw an opening. Her campaign ran a full-page newspaper ad (seriously, campaigns still do that) denouncing Cramer as a Neanderthal rape apologist.

And the bottom she listed alleged signatories to the ad:

The problem was that a lot of the women listed on that ad didn’t want to be listed:

Lexi Zhorela of Bismarck wrote on Facebook that she was “beyond FURIOUS.” She said many women on the list, including her, “didn’t want our name spread across the news for everyone to see” and risked retribution from a prior rapist or boyfriend who beat them.

Kady Miller, also of Bismarck, wrote on Facebook: “A lot of these people listed, including me, did not give anyone permission for our names to be posted. I don’t even support Heidi Heitkamp and I am not a domestic abuse survivor. Should this even be legal?? Using people’s names as part of your campaign??”

Heitkamp has issued an apology but the damage here, like the damage to Ford, has been done. People who simply told a US Senator about their deeply personal experience suddenly found themselves conscripted as foot soldiers in a Democrat’s talking points.

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