Book Review: 'Search & Destroy: Inside the Campaign Against Brett Kavanaugh'

No one saw it coming when, on July 9, 2018, President Donald J. Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy on the United States Supreme Court. The Democrats and their media and left-wing activist allies would surely oppose Kavanaugh; the question was on what grounds. He had a spotless record.

Kavanaugh’s former classmates at Yale, including John Yoo, knew Kavanaugh well. Yoo joked that because he took over Kavanaugh’s student apartment after the former’s graduation, he knew first-hand that Kavanaugh had nothing hiding under his bed or in his closet. His classmates knew Kavanaugh as a brilliant man who had consciously sought and prepared himself for a Supreme Court appointment since he was a 20-year-old college student. A lifelong resident of Washington D.C. and one old enough to remember the Democrats’ wanton destruction of Judge Robert Bork in the Reagan years, Kavanaugh was not a man likely to take any risks.

So when Trump announced Kavanaugh’s name in a White House ceremony that included the nominee and his family standing by the president, any would-be opponents had no immediate argument against him other than that his ascension would tip the balance of the Court to the right - and that’s not a valid reason to keep him off the bench. Where Kennedy was often the Court’s swing vote between its four-member left and right factions, Kavanaugh could be expected to be a more reliable vote for the conservatives. But again, this in itself constituted no valid reason to fight him. Being conservative is not (yet) a crime in America. The left needed something else.

In Search & Destroy: Inside the Campaign Against Brett Kavanaugh, investigative journalist Ryan Lovelace details the events that turned an ordinary judicial confirmation debate into political thermonuclear war in Washington and across America.

This at-first anonymous message kicked off the worst judicial war of modern times: “Potential Supreme Court nominee with assistance of his friend assaulted me in mid-1980s in Maryland. Have therapy records talking about it. Feel like I shouldn’t be quiet but not willing to put family in DC and CA through a lot of stress.” The time frame, which Ford changed numerous times as she told and re-told her story, would put Kavanaugh in high school. This was an allegation, even supposing there was any truth to it, against a child, more than 30 years after it would have happened - when no evidence was likely to still exist.

The message went to staff at the Washington Post three days before Kavanaugh’s nomination - not to law enforcement. It was from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a psychiatrist and professor who soon was working with Democrats and their media allies to not just derail, but destroy, Kavanaugh’s name, reputation and of course his nomination to a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court. Ford and the parade of antagonists who followed her put the entire nation under tremendous stress, risking the credibility of the Supreme Court itself along the way.

These are facts we all know. What Lovelace does in Search & Destroy is go behind the headlines to deliver a blow-by-blow, minute-by-minute account of what happened, who did it and why. Lovelace shows how a vast left-wing conspiracy builds news sensations and stories from the ground up - from small websites with few journalistic standards but starved for clicks, through the legacy media and then to the national talking-head pundits competing for airtime with ever more vitriolic hyperbole and partisan guttersniping. Lovelace also details Ford’s motive - her pharmaceutical company’s hawking of an abortion drug, and according to her lawyer, opposition to Kavanaugh’s pro-life position - for smearing Kavanaugh and besmirching his name. Lovelace also turns over rocks to uncover the Bill Clinton-defending lawyer and a journalist who failed to derail Clarence Thomas’ nomination - both of whom led the assault on Kavanaugh out of motives equal parts politics and revenge. Lovelace reports their motive was far from the “civic duty” Ford claimed at the time.

Ryan Lovelace’s Search & Destroy: Inside the Campaign Against Brett Kavanaugh is meticulously sourced and he includes page after page of end notes to back up his assertions. Lovelace and his publisher, Regnery Press, have done the nation a service with this book. Americans need to know who stands to try and destroy the next Republican judicial nominee, and why they will do it. Search & Destroy is a must-read for anyone who cares about the intersection of media, politics and the Supreme Court as it becomes the most hotly contested ground in American public life.