What is the purpose of Dr. Ford giving testimony before the Senate Judiciary committee? Basically to get her story out to the American public. She is not going to change one vote on the committee. Jeff Flake has already been exposed as a charlatan whose main function in the Republican party is ratf*cking. The Republicans control the agenda which means that they will put Dr. Ford first and Kavanaugh second, probably with a break in between, giving Kavanaugh at pretty big advantage. She will be trying to get her story out amid extremely hostile questioning. If she says anything that might be hurtful to Kavanaugh she will be cut off because as we are constantly reminded the Republicans hold the gavel and they have no compunction about using it for their own purposes. Dr. Ford will not be able to control the narrative, nobody can in this type of circumstance. So you must way these, and other, downsides against getting her story out to the American public.
So Friday 10 am rolls around and Dr. Ford has not responded. Up until that moment the Republicans have all the power. The second the clock strikes ten the power dynamic shifts dramatically. The Republicans must make a decision about what to do next without knowing what Dr. Ford is going to do next. Do they go on with the hearing only with Brett Kavanaugh? Do they cancel the hearing? What is Dr. Ford going to do? Play this game out.
They decide to go on with the hearing. I do not think the Democrats should boycott. They should go in and try and give Kavanaugh as rough a time as possible. During the hearing Dr. Ford’s lawyers announce that they are going to have a press conference, maybe at 5pm where Dr. Ford will tell her story to the American people. She will take some questions from the press (the press loves that). She will have her lawyers and perhaps (I’m hoping) some classmates from the girls school she attended, who are willing to testify that they heard about the incident in real time. This is hearsay, but it doesn’t matter. It is not a court and there is nobody to cut them off by saying it is hearsay. She’s not looking to put Kavanaugh in jail, she is looking to tell her story to the American people so they can know what type of person Kavanaugh is. Dr. Ford and her lawyers already know what Kavanaugh said and they can tailor Dr. Ford’s statement accordingly. There will also be a larger audience. One of the reasons Republicans scheduled the hearing for 10 am Monday is that along with late Friday afternoon is when people are least likely to be paying attention. At 5pm people are just getting home from work. They might be listening to the news on the way home. It will be the lead on every evening news show. Dr. Ford’s testimony will be more dramatic than Kavanaugh’s and it will sell far better. Dr. Ford is relaxed and no under hostile questioning (until she gives a few questions to the press).
The Republicans cancel the hearing, but everything else follows the same. This would be even worse because there would be nothing to compete with Dr. Ford’s story on the news programs. She will get twice as much time and everybody will wonder why Kavanaugh has not responded. The Republicans can’t hastily call a hearing for Kavanaugh, the milk is already spilled plus they will look hysterical trying to respond. They have been completely neutered. Wouldn’t that be sweet.
Scenario 3 & 4
The Republicans do or don’t have the hearing but Dr. Ford pulls out completely. Honestly I can’t see her doing that at this point.
Why do we think there is something magical about testifying before the Senate? That is so 1990s. Nothing official is going to come out of Dr. Ford’s testimony and there are a lot of downsides. The news networks will cover it live, but if it is set up right it can reach even more people by streaming it live on websites (like Dailykos and Talkingpointsmemo – and you can also have real time commentary) on Facebook pages, people can spend the rest of the evening retweeting. There might also be a way to get some aspect of the press conference on Instagram. The best part is Grassley is watching this on television and he is boiling because he can’t do a damn thing and he has lost complete control. Because you, we still live in a democracy (at least for the time being).
Now I know that people are going to say that Dr. Ford is not under oath. But again I think people are living in the past. This is from the days when 1) People believed the individuals do not lie under oath (that ship has sailed) and 2) Communications were mediated by appointed interlocutors who needed extraneous information to communicate whether individuals are telling the truth. These days people are able to use information technologies to watch people answer questions and give testimony directly and generally believe if individuals are telling the truth (and actually unless they are watching a sociopath).