Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images

Lindsey Graham embodies Republicans’ desperation to save Kavanaugh.

Brett Kavanaugh’s portion of today’s historic hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee is not going well. He has spent much of the hearing either raving mad or choking back tears. His performance has been disqualifying: His opening statement and answers to questions have been overtly partisan in a way that no other judicial nominee has ever been.

He has also repeatedly struggled under questioning from Democrats about why he isn’t pushing for an FBI investigation and why his friend Mark Judge, who Christine Blasey Ford said was present when Kavanaugh assaulted her, is not testifying. Wary of the optics—eleven white men grilling a victim of sexual assault and defending a privileged white man—Republicans have largely kept their hands clean, outsourcing their questions to Maricopa County sex crimes prosecutor Rachel Mitchell. But as Kavanaugh’s hearings have dragged on, Lindsey Graham and John Cornyn have stepped in to defend the Supreme Court nominee and attack their Democratic colleagues.

Graham, in particular, echoed Kavanaugh’s own defense. He ranted about the attack on the judge’s character, saying that the Democrats’ treatment of him is the “most despicable thing” he has seen in politics.

Cornyn, meanwhile, drew attention to the other allegations levied against Kavanaugh—by “Stormy Daniels’ lawyer”—as a way of casting the hearings as a partisan witch hunt.

Given the cheering from White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, it’s likely that Graham and Cornyn were engaged in a coordinated effort to distract from the questions being levied by Democrats. But their decision to spend their allotted five minutes by grandstanding only underlines how little they care about investigating the claims against Kavanaugh.