A bizarre question by a Senate Democrat trying to smear Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett could backfire spectacularly as some are now digging into her own sickening past.
Hawaii Senator Maize Hirono, who already had a well-earned reputation as “Crazy Maize,” took Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing down a disgusting road when she appeared to have tried to set her up on sexual harassment claims.
“Judge Barrett, Chief Justice John Roberts has recognized that, and I quote him, ‘The judicial branch is not immune from the widespread problem of sexual harassment and assault’ and has taken steps to address this issue within the judiciary,” Hirono started.
After some rambling, she asked Coney Barrett directly: “Since you became a legal adult, have you ever made unwanted requests for sexual favors or committed any verbal or physical harassment or assault of a sexual nature?”
Coney Barrett, obviously, easily, and directly answered “no.”
“Have you ever faced discipline or entered into a settlement related to this kind of conduct?,” Hirono pressed again.
Again, Coney Barrett easily and directly answered “no.”
Hirono was among the most unhinged and unstable of the Democrats who falsely accused then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of rape.
But the question was so outrageous and bizarre even many Democrats were embarrassed.
While many joked Democrats would accuse Coney Barrett of rape in a last-ditch effort to sabotage the nomination, some saw it coming.
“You can promise that Mazie will say something crazy,” Nebraska Republican Senator Ben Sasse predicted to NBC before the hearing started.
But Hirono’s question isn’t just insane, it’s also deeply hypocritical.
The Maize Hirono who tried to make sexual assault and harassment an issue has her own history of looking the other way when her own party commits sexual assault and harassment.
As National Review reported in 2018:
In Senator Hirono’s case, she had the opportunity to choose sides in the 1990s when credible allegations were made that Daniel Inouye, then a Democratic senator representing Hawaii, had engaged in a pattern of sexual assault.
Lenore Kwock, the senator’s hairdresser for 20 years, said she had been forced into nonconsensual sex back in 1975 and had suffered persistent gropings since then.
Kwock’s story became public after she was tricked by a campaign worker for Inouye’s 1992 Republican opponent into telling her story into a tape recorder. The tape was briefly used in a political ad until Kwock demanded it be withdrawn. Kwock told reporters she had “forgiven” Inouye, even as she stood by her story. But she nonetheless spoke cautiously: “It could cost me my business, and so I speak with tact and diplomacy.”
Nonetheless, Kwock was surprised at the silence of Hawaii’s female political leaders about her account, given that the Anita Hill hearings had riveted the nation just one year earlier. Mazie Hirono, then considered a protégé of Inouye’s as a member of the State House, maintained a studied and consistent silence. There is no evidence she believed Kwock.
At the time Hirono was one of Hawaii’s members of Congress and desperately wanted a promotion. She apparently realized that protecting Inouye and allowing him to continue assaulting women would greatly benefit her.
Within two years, Inouye’s political machine helped her win Hawaii’s lieutenant governorship, giving her the ability to build statewide campaigns she could use to promote herself to the Senate.
One reason for the strange silence was Inouye’s incredible power to direct political patronage and funding in Hawaii. In 1992, the New York Times quoted Neil Milner, a professor of political science at the University of Hawaii, as saying that “cowardice” explained much of the silence about Inouye. In a one-party government, “everything depends on behaving yourself,” and challenging Inouye at the time was highly risky.
By “behaving herself” and helping silence alleged sexual assault victims, Hirono eventually succeeded Hawaii’s other U.S. Senator in Washington.