The biggest difference is that Republicans simply weren’t playing with these attacks. Each and every one of these stories — and dozens of similar ones — was met with swift condemnation or yawns. Every single one.
It took a few decades of the left playing the exact same games with most confirmation battles, but finally, the right figured out how to render those attacks worthless. It’s not just conservative Americans, but the senators themselves who are playing this differently.
Rather than the Senate Judiciary Committee immediately responding to the Washington Post’s anti-Kavanaugh attack by bending to the will of the Democrats, this time they just didn’t care. As Democrats openly said on national television that they would do anything to stop Barrett’s confirmation, rather than act scared, the Republicans were not moved. They haven’t responded with outrage or drama, but just a steely resolve to get the nomination done. [emphasis mine]
Why it took Senate Republicans decades to figure out this basic premise, that the best way to deal with bullies and temper tantrums is to ignore them, is another question. It suggests that for decades those Republicans really liked bowing to those tantrums, because they really didn’t want to achieve any of the conservative goals their voters wanted and that they always campaigned on.
However, fake conservative senators like Jeff Flake and Bob Corker are gone, replaced with senators who are either more legitimately conservative (Marsha Blackburn) or faced with a tough reelection fight that forces toughness (Martha McSally). The result is that no Republican in the Senate is willing to play the Democrat’s game anymore. They can scream and kick and hold their breath, but on Monday Amy Barrett will be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court.