So this post selfishly serves two purposes.
The first is that I am being repeatedly asked, publicly and privately, what I think of the smoldering ruins of decency that used to be the Kavanaugh nomination. Since I am white, male, and privileged as they come, I know everything I say is immediately suspect, and I’m not eager to start a discussion where I’m presumed to be a misogynistic monster from the outset. But it’s reached a point where I’m too angry to just sit this one out and let civilization collapse around me.
The second purpose is to introduce my friends to the new website I’m working for called canonizer.com. It’s a website designed to find consensus amid controversy. This lengthy white paper explains it in great detail, but the TL/DR explanation is that Canonizer is sort of a cross between Wikipedia and Reddit. People are invited to create and join camps on topics that define their positions, resulting in a large-scale, permanent poll of the entire population which allows us to get definitive answers on even the most intractable issues. We haven’t done a large scale roll-out of the site yet, but I’d very interested in seeing how my friends respond.
Anyway, on to my Kavanaugh analysis, which begins, as too many things do, with a Trump/Clinton comparison. Indeed, the lack of moral difference between Bill Clinton and Donald Trump may well be the most important reason why I’m no longer a Republican.
I’m old enough to remember the unanimous Republican outrage at Bill Clinton’s contempt for women. At the time, Democrats who had been outraged by Clarence Thomas telling jokes about pubic hairs on cans of Coke were suddenly saying that groping a woman in the Oval Office on the day her husband committed suicide wasn’t really that big a deal. Famed feminist Gloria Steinem even wrote a shameful op-ed for the New York Times that established what has come to be called the “One Free Grope” rule, which can be defined as follows: Since, after forcibly placing Kathleen Wiley’s hand on his erect penis, Bill Clinton didn’t proceed to fully rape her, he “took no for an answer” and therefore behaved honorably. (I’d provide a link, but the original version of the One Free Grope op-ed has been quietly scrubbed from the NYT website.)
Fade out, fade in. When Donald Trump’s Access Hollywood tape surfaced where he described, in terms too crude to repeat here, his own contempt for women, Democrats suddenly and hypocritically rediscovered the importance of presidential morality. Republicans, while equally hypocritical, were somewhat less transparent about their sudden about-face on whether or not it matters that a president is a pig. Instead of owning the reality that they only care about sexual predation when it’s politically convenient to do so, the Party of Trump went into full whataboutist mode, pointing fingers at Bill Clinton and screaming about Democratic hypocrisy in an attempt to deflect all scrutiny of their own.
What is obvious to all but the willfully blind is that it is possible for both Bill Clinton and Donald Trump to both be human garbage at the same time, and, regardless of partisan preferences, the moral unfitness of one president in no way enhances the moral fitness of another.
As I segue into how this applies to the utter travesty of the Kavanaugh nomination process, you might expect me to continue the sexual analogy to assess the allegations now facing the current Supreme Court nominee.
But that’s not where I’m going with this.
Because what’s happening now has little or nothing to do with Brett Kavanaugh, Christine Blasey Ford, or what may or may not have happened at a drunken teenage party 36 years ago. It also has nothing to do with Deborah Ramirez and her uncertain memories of Kavanaugh pulling up or down his pants, or even Michael Avenatti and his goofy claims that a teenage Kavanaugh was running a gang rape sex ring that nobody noticed the first six times Kavanaugh had to undergo an FBI background check.
This has everything to do with Merrick Garland.
Judge Garland, as you recall, is the fully-qualified, well-respected jurist that President Obama nominated to fill the vacancy left by the death of Antonin Scalia in 2016. In a bare-knuckled display of raw political chutzpah, the Republicans refused to give the legitimately-nominated Garland a hearing in committee, let alone an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor.
The contempt for the process couldn’t have been more brazen. Here in Utah, I was writing editorials for the Deseret News demanding that Garland get a fair hearing. At the same time, Orrin Hatch submitted an op-ed to the Deseret News that described why, after a meeting with Garland, he had carefully considered why he wouldn’t support the Senate considering his nomination. The only problem was that the op-ed describing the meeting was accidentally published before the meeting took place. (Oops.) Obviously, Hatch and the Republicans had no intention whatsoever of giving Garland a fair shake. And, yes, that’s outrageous, and, loudly and repeatedly, I said so at the time.
So are Democrats mad? Or course they are! They’re furious, and they have every right to be. But what’s happened is that they’ve decided that Republican shenanigans justify their own shenanigans as a crucial swing vote on the Court is retiring. The plan is to delay any vote on Kavanaugh until after the midterms, when Democrats may well be in charge of the Senate. And then, after Kavanaugh goes down to an ignominious defeat, we will get two years of Democrats waving a bloody banner with Merrick Garland’s face while they ignore any of Trump’s attempted appointees, and as SCOTUS is continually gridlocked on a host of 4-4 decisions, they’ll remind everyone that Republicans let the Scalia seat sit empty until we got a new president, so it’s only fair that Democrats behave just as reprehensibly, because, you know, they started it, and nyah nyah nyah.
It’s “You-think-Trump-is-bad-Clinton-was-worse” for the Judicial Branch.
I have no interest in debating Kavanaugh’s guilt or innocence with regard to Dr. Ford’s accusations. The charge is both unproven and unprovable, and, in the Senate, neither side gives a rip whether or not it is true. If they did, they’d have brought it forward when they first got it instead of weaponizing it at the last minute to torpedo the nomination. Calls for investigation and delay ring hollow, because the FBI has already determined that an investigation has zero potential to accomplish anything. The purpose is not to find the truth; the purpose is delay, to destroy, and to cloak another brazen attempt to subvert constitutional norms with an aura of respectability. It’s just another heaping helping of whataboutist hypocrisy.
As for Deborah Ramirez, who told a number of her friends that she wasn’t sure it was Kavanaugh who exposed himself and only came forward after “six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney,” pardon me, but what the hell is that? Can someone explain to me the process of a six-day memory assessment? (Does it involve Scientology e-meters?) All the supposed corroborating witnesses insist this didn’t happen, including one of Ramirez’s best friends, and she admits to having “large gaps” in her memory on account of being sloppy drunk at the time. It’s no surprise that Ramirez is now refusing to speak to the Judiciary Committee, which means that there’s no reason to pay any more attention to an accusation that has no sustaining evidence, a great deal of contradictory evidence, and one that the accuser herself refuses to stand behind.
But Ramirez’s accusation is instructive in that it demonstrates what the strategy of the Democrats. They needed to establish some kind of pattern of behavior to give Dr. Ford’s accusation more credibility, and, absent any real accusation, they were more than willing to manufacture one. It suggests that Democrats were going to make any charge necessary to blow up Kavanaugh, and it would only be a happy coincidence if the charge they found was true. Senate Democrats will all too eagerly toss Dr. Ford to the wolves the moment she ceases to be useful.
In the meantime, as Republicans are being driven out of public restaurants while protestors chant “We believe survivors,” and every reasonable attempt to accommodate Dr. Ford’s testimony is met with new reasons for delay, Brett Kavanaugh’s life and reputation are being burned to the ground based on a presumption of guilt that no one deserves. Congratulations, Democrats. Mission accomplished.
It’s beyond infuriating. Because the Republicans acted disgracefully with Garland, the Democrats now feel justified in acting disgracefully to avenge Garland. That does not change the fact that they are, in fact, acting disgracefully.
Do you agree? Do you disagree? Join one of the camps below. Create a camp. Help us find consensus.