Truth lost amid hardball politics
“In the very near future, Judge Kavanaugh will be on the Supreme Court. We’re going to plow right through it and do our job.”— Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky)
Of all the great spectacles inherent within the American political system, few contain the intensity of the passion plays centered around a vacancy on the United States Supreme Court.
That is seemingly always the case, even in far more civil times than the hyper-partisan one in which we find ourselves, so we should hardly be surprised at what is playing out in Washington now.
Angry, perhaps. Disgusted, perhaps. Very much concerned, perhaps. But not surprised.
The nomination of Federal District Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the seat on the nation’s highest court — where the real power in this country is vested — was always destined to be a hotly contested one. After all, an increasingly unpopular president picked as his choice to replace the court’s swing vote (retired Justice Anthony Kennedy), an arch-conservative ideologue with controversial ideas, primary among them that presidents are above the law.
But now, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a California research psychology professor, has come forward with her claim that 36 years ago when she was 15 and he was 17, Kavanaugh fondled, groped, and generally forced himself upon her against her will after both had been drinking and Kavanaugh was “stumbling drunk” at a party in Maryland where they lived and attended different schools.
Kavanaugh “categorically” denied that or anything like it ever happened, and instantly, the ante was upped and the battle lines were drawn.
Rarely have so many — on his side, on her side — become so righteously certain so quickly regarding a matter which by its very nature precludes their actually knowing anything at all. Virtually from the instant the woman’s allegation became known, it has been viewed, almost exclusively, through respective partisan prisms.
The 24-hour news channels, the op-ed pages of newspapers, the respective Democratic and Republican propaganda machines are full of more clichés than your average freshman English comp assignment — from “he said/she said” to “boys will be boys,” and any would-be voice of reason calling for objectivity is quickly drowned out by the increasingly higher decibel screeches of not-so-righteous indignation from both Left and Right.
From Democrats, from Republicans, from their respective supporters, disingenuousness and hypocrisy reign.
Because the Supreme Court is the highest of high stakes.
On the one hand, if Kavanaugh goes down, the Republican base, already distrustful of Congress, will be disheartened and its turnout depressed in the all-important midterm elections, now just about six weeks away. The GOP is already in real danger of losing control of the House of Representatives, and if even a percentage of the hardcore base stays at home on election day, the Senate could be in peril, too.
And on the other, if the 11 white Republican men who make up the one-vote majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee are perceived as bullying Kavanaugh’s accuser, seen as beating up on another woman coming forward with a story of sexual victimization as some of its same members were viewed as doing to Anita Hill when she testified against now-Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991, then the already energized majority woman base of the Democratic Party will be set afire with the fuel of a vengeance that would consume both GOP majorities.
That’s exactly what happened the last time a woman testified before the Senate during the confirmation hearing for a Republican Supreme Court nominee.
As the good Mr. Twain observed, “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.”
But let us all at least be honest about a single thing: This is not about the truth or finding it. This is about politics, pure hardball politics. This is about power and partisan agendas and not about “getting to the bottom” of what happened in a bedroom at a party 36 years ago or about who is or is not telling the truth or whether any of that really matters in determining whether a man is fit to sit on the highest court in the land.
Because the oh, so sad truth actually is that at least one and very possibly both major political parties in this country do not really want know what happened or who is being truthful. Both want what is in their best respective political interests, the foundation of democracy and rule of law that is truth be damned.
The United States Senate will either advise and consent to Brett’s Kavanaugh’s nomination to the United States Supreme Court or it will not. But in neither case will the larger questions all of this has raised in the nation be answered, and in neither case will any of our gaping national divides do anything but widen.
Ray Mosby is editor and publisher of the Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork.