Well that was humiliating – that whole process of confirming Brett Kavanaugh was emblematic of what happens when political parties have to go to war. Democrats are not only a minority party in the Legislative branch, they are demeaned and used as bait by a President who has no ideology but winning (for him and his team, which represents him). Democrats did what their constituents expected them to do. Since Brett Kavanaugh was actually a nomination by the very right wing Federalist Society, he is clearly on that list because he shares the right wing ideology of the President and the Republicans and will vote predictably on their behalf. Democrats do not share Republican ideology, not any of it. They have no recourse but to fight his confirmation.
During confirmation hearings the members of the Judiciary Committee and the Senate as a whole (Republicans and Democrats) typically try to get glimpses of how someone will vote if they are passed through to the courts, in this case the Supreme Court. Recent tradition, which says that nominees cannot give hypothetical verdicts or comment on current cases makes it quite difficult to learn about candidates in any great depth. Usually there is a paper trail of documents and decisions that can be researched to provide possible answers from past rulings and statements to tell us how a nominee will rule in the future. In this case all of the papers from when Kavanaugh worked in the Bush administration were withheld. Some things were known from when Kavanaugh served in the Ken Starr investigation into Bill Clinton’s consensual philandering in the oval office.
Democrats were able to score a few points against Brett Kavanaugh but he basically came off as a saintly husband and father and a well-respected judge on the federal court bench who just happened to have the same beliefs about the human condition and governance as those on the far right of American politics. The Democrats were not able to be very effective. Their points were more like little bee stings to this smiling, confident, relatively young man (who could be on the Supreme Court for 40 years or more). Even the demonstrators, who were very brave to be so assertive in front of such an intimidating group, were dealt with so swiftly that we barely knew their cause.
The Republicans are vindictive in their power. They lord it over the minority. They disparage them. They make it seem like it is pitiful for them to even try to compete with this arrogant bunch of old white men. They dump 42,000 documents on the Dems (which the Republican members have already seen) the night before the hearings. They want to humiliate the Democrats, to bring them to their knees, to make them meekly cave to the might of our nation’s last holdouts from an old, old order. Usually the rules of the game say that you treat the minority party with civility because they might be in the majority again one day. Chuck Grassley’s pretense of civility was somewhat grotesque and more than a little inauthentic. I would guess that Republicans do not think that the Democrats will ever be in power again.
Diane Feinstein, of course, had a letter from Professor Christine Blasey Ford which the Republicans and, apparently her own party members on the Judiciary knew nothing about. Perhaps she knew that the events described in that letter were like a mine buried in a very big old mine field and that there was no map of that mine field. Perhaps she did not want to ask Dr. Ford to reveal herself unless there was no other option left to the Democrats. Perhaps she withheld it, as Republicans contend, until it could serve as another way to delay the proceedings and cast more shade on Kavanaugh. We may never know.
I believed that Diane Feinstein was sincerely interested in protecting Dr. Ford, if she could, from the Republicans who would be livid in the face of her allegations, who were mostly old men with odd beliefs about men and women and even about rape. But I am a liberal so no one, except possibly other liberals, will agree with me on that. But I am sad for the way Dr. Ford’s efforts turned out. It makes her look like she either tried to help the Democrats with a really great job of acting, or that she really was just a mixed-up broad who was attacked and who just decided that it was Brett Kavanaugh because, we don’t know why.
What began as a polite pause by men who never placed any credence in Blasey-Ford’s memories, but who, because of the #metoo movement felt they had to hold their horses, however impatiently, to let her have a moment, ended up giving these men exactly the moment of derision they hoped to get, even if they did have to suppress evidence to get that tainted victory. If was clear after she gave her testimony that there were problems. So many specifics were missing and she had received no collaboration from her old friend Leland who was supposedly also present at this impromptu party. But that yearbook with all its odd entries that seemed sexual, but which we were told were about drinking, seemed to offer some backup to Ford’s portrayal of Kavanaugh’s character.
So now all we are left with is one university professor and the as-yet-unknown affects her testimony will have on her life, one humiliated elder stateswoman who tried to be kind, a bunch of nasty old men who will get their way once again and be able to subject us all to their reactionary agenda long after they are gone, and a man who will no longer have to pretend to be anything but what he is once he is confirmed to the Supreme Court. I would not want to be on this version of the Supremes. Will Kavanaugh be able to put the mean boy away or will his rulings be his vengeance?
To find out the true nature of a man who was intended to be the easiest confirmation ever to the highest court in the land, who it was felt had bona fides that made him a shoe-in, the perfect proof that the elite men of the 50’s were still being produced on an assembly line near you, but not too near you – after all you never went to Yale, or a private prep school for that matter, that was the task in front of the Democrats, and it was a Herculean task. There will, however, be no heroic outcome, no villain exposed, no pretender vanquished. Instead there may be a backlash against a minority party that just did its job. To put a topper on the whole valiant attempt we have to watch a man who should be a gracious winner, (Mitch McConnell) draw (loudly in front of all of America) his paranoid conclusions, besmirch the losers with unprovable judgments, and gloat. To put a extra topper on it all, we are told that it made Republicans, who smell blood, more excited to vote in the midterms. Ouch.
Photo Credits: From a Google Image Search – New York Post, The Mercury News