WASHINGTON -- The Senate Judiciary Committee's ranking Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, like others in her party, apparently has forgotten that in America, the burden of proof falls on an accuser, not the accused.
Thus Feinstein played a starring role in her party's efforts to slime the reputation of Brett Kavanaugh, an eminently qualified jurist nominated by President Donald Trump to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court.
On Sept. 13, Feinstein released a statement about an anonymous accuser's unspecified "information" on the judge, which the senator said she referred to federal authorities. Feinstein released the statement without even asking Kavanaugh about the charges.
Feinstein had plenty of time to ask. On July 30, college professor Christine Blasey Ford wrote a letter to the senator in which she asserted that a drunken Kavanaugh -- then a high school student -- "physically and sexually assaulted" her "in the early 1980s." The then-17-year-old Kavanaugh groped the then-15-year-old Ford, tried to pull off her clothes, and put a hand over her mouth, Ford wrote, before she got away.
Ford provided little detail as to the time -- or even year -- or the place. Her corroboration was limited essentially to notes taken by a therapist when Ford first revealed the story in 2012.
On Tuesday, Trump also faulted Feinstein for not asking Kavanaugh about the charges when they met one on one. If the charges were so serious, one wonders, how could Feinstein say nothing?
The Democrat from California maintains that she could not mention the allegation to Kavanaugh without violating Ford's request for confidentiality. Feinstein apparently never informed Ford that accused individuals have a right to face their accusers.
Instead leaks about the Ford letter, presumably by Democrats affiliated with the Senate committee, revealed the allegation which led Ford to break her silence. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has since invited Ford and Kavanaugh to address his committee on Monday. Kavanaugh accepted the invitation; Ford has said she wants the FBI to first investigate the alleged incident before she testifies.
I tend to believe women who accuse men of sexual misconduct, because these types of episodes happen all the time unfortunately. When I first heard the accusation, I thought it was very possible a drunken teenage boy forced himself on a vulnerable teenage girl, who fortunately got away.
But Kavanaugh denies Ford's charge, the witness Ford named refutes her claim, and the pendulum has swung too far on these stories.
Kavanaugh has led a good life. He's been a good boss, husband and father to the women around him, who enthusiastically vouch for him. He's passed six investigations by the FBI.
One person's unsubstantiated accusation, waged decades after the alleged event and at a politically sensitive moment, should not be enough to topple him.
On Twitter, conservatives have hammered Democrats for their hypocrisy on sexual harassment and misconduct.
Feinstein voted against convicting an impeached Bill Clinton, who was accused of much worse as an adult. Democrats also have hit the mute button after Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., won his party's primary in a bid to become Minnesota attorney general after allegations that he battered a former girlfriend.
They were adults who held public office at the time of the accusations, yet Democrats are holding them to a lower standard than they have set for a teenager.
But hypocrisy isn't the big problem here. The horror lies in the obscene toxicity behind the left's rush to bury Kavanaugh.
When Trump picked Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, Senate Democrats had not gotten over the GOP Senate's decision to block President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. The Republicans, Democrats complained, wouldn't even give Garland a hearing.
Garland never was going to win confirmation from a GOP-controlled Senate -- not when a presidential election scheduled within the year could produce a president who would keep the conservative 5-4 majority from swinging in the other direction.
But Senate Democrats could not let go of the resentment they felt at the GOP's refusal to hold a hearing for Garland. Before she voted against Trump's first Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch, Feinstein told MSNBC, "The humiliation it caused a very good man resounds with all of us still."
Humiliation? Please. The Republicans spared Garland a hearing for a job he wasn't going to get at the time. Now the Democrats are looking for payback by engineering an unfair hearing for Kavanaugh. They are so determined to lash out at Kavanaugh that they're dredging up dirt from his high school years.
If the left can't smear an eminently qualified jurist on the basis of his judicial record, they'll destroy his reputation. So if he makes it onto the big bench, he'll have a stain on his name likely to haunt every decision he writes until his dying day.