Why Did GOP Punt On Third Down During Kavanaugh Hearing?

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Bobby Dodd, the legendary head football coach of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets from 1945–1966 was fond of punting on third down. If Dodd found his team bogged down deep in their own territory and unable to cross mid-field he would deploy a punt as a defensive weapon.

Dodd would place his quarterback in the shotgun formation and direct him to punt the ball on third down.

The third down punt would catch his opponent’s defense off guard. They would not have anyone back deep to field the punt and the football with any luck would bounce around deep into his opponent’s territory before the ball could be downed.

Oftentimes a strategic punt on third down changed the field position by pushing the opponent back towards the end zone, so much so, that when Dodd’s team got the ball back they were in better field position to score.

During the first day of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Democrats benefited from a credible performance by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. But Republican Senators were able to move the goalposts with an angry defense lead by Kavanaugh causing the Democrat’s drive to stalled in the Red Zone.

On the second day Republicans ran into fierce resistance from Democratic Senators. The Democrats had them bobbled up all day under a cloud of suspicion that the GOP must be hiding something in not wanting an FBI inquiry into Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers.

Suddenly, Jeff Flake, like a goof ball, but talented quarterback, called his own number. On third and long, deep in enemy territory, he punted the ball. It caught the Democrats flat footed and changed field position giving the Democrats the ball, but deep in GOP territory.

What caused this change of position?

My best guess is that the White House realized the Democrats were winning the public relations war ahead of the midterms and it would be impossible to hold onto Republican control of congress if they rammed an alleged sexual pervert onto the Supreme Court in callous disregard for the treatment of women behind closed doors.

Additionally, the White House has had time to gauge the impact that President Trump’s stump speech accusing Democrats and the Clinton’s of a conspiracy to get back at Kavanaugh for his role in the White Water and other Clinton related investigations. In early going, this conspiracy theory has played well before the base.

Armed with this stump speech, Trump will likely hope the FBI take the entire month of October to complete its investigation and issue its 302 after the midterm election.

If Democrats are unable to mount yet another compelling argument for a midterm blue wave, Trump will have the congress he needs to confirm Kavanaugh and steamroll into 2020.

But all is not lost for Democrats. They need look no further than Coach Dodd for a trick play of their own. In a 1930 game against Florida, Dodd resorted to a play he learned in high school. After the ball was snapped it was placed on the ground, “the players all ran in one direction,” but the center returned to pick up the ball and run it into the end zone.

Democrats need to huddle and come up with a razzle-dazzle play that snatches victory our of defeat. Trump cannot be allowed to hold rallies and push his conspiracy theory without there being Democratic rallies in those states debunking Trump’s rhetoric.

To fail to address Trump headon during this period of the FBI investigation is fraught with danger.

What Democrats should have learned from the 2016 election is: the more Trump’s antics go unchecked, the stronger his base grows.

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist. He is a Contributor at The Hill, SCLC National Magazine, Southern Changes Magazine, Medium and Black College Nines. He can be contacted at hmharvey@haroldmichaelharvey.com

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Harvey is Living Now Book Awards 2020 Bronze Medalist for his memoir Freaknik Lawyer: A Memoir on the Craft of Resistance. Available at haroldmichaelharvey.com

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