What I can say is that implausible deniability is now very much a thing. Susan Collins and the others who voted for Kavanaugh, including Joe Manchin, had to rely on implausible claims:
- that Dr. Ford was assaulted but not by Kavanaugh--Collins literally said this, perhaps buying the Ed Whelan conspiracy theory
- that the FBI investigated and didn't find any compelling evidence. Of course, the FBI didn't really investigate, but the extra week and its "report" gave Flake and other senators the opportunity to say that they did due diligence.
- that Kavanaugh is not going to overturn Roe v. Wade or anything else that is "settled law."
Every time a Supreme Court decision whittles away access to abortion or gives the Trump administration more ways to misbehave (self-pardons, allowing the President to pardon state-level prosecutions, etc), Collins and Manchin and Flake will need to be reminded that they are responsible, not just for telling women that they should not come forward, but for enabling the destruction of the rule of law. Flake is leaving the Senate, but I hope he faces a lifetime of recriminations. I hope that Collins loses office in 2020, and I guess I hope that Manchin sticks around long enough to give the Dems a majority but not much longer than that.
Because they all sold out whatever values they claim to have and they claim they did not because they have the thinnest of cover. Their deniability is implausible, and we need to call them on it. Again, democratic politics relies on shame, and we need to make these people feel the burn of shame. Implausible deniability, if unchallenged, leads to shamelessness which paves the way to the end of democracy.