From the moment when Professor Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations of sexual assault against Judge Brett Kavanaugh became public Chairman Chuck Grassley and the rest of the Handmaid’s Tale boys on the Senate Judiciary Committee blocked the Democrats’ efforts to subpoena to testify a key witness to the attack, Mark Judge.
This obstruction was telling since Blasey Ford identified Mark Judge as being in the room with Kavanaugh when the assault took place. By not compelling an alleged accomplice in the crime to appear before the committee the eleven Republican men in the majority sent a clear signal to every woman in America who has ever suffered sexual assault: You Do Not Matter.
The only moment of clarity from Kavanaugh’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee was when he exposed himself to be the right-wing partisan hack he is. In previous testimony, Kavanaugh had put forth an image of himself as a paragon of judiciousness and even temperament.
But the second time around, when he was responding to credible allegations of sexual assault, he hyperventilated about a political conspiracy against him that rose from bitterness over the 2016 election the “left” and the “Clintons” unleashed to besmirch his good name:
“This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups!”
The nation witnessed the spectacle of a sitting federal judge referencing conspiracies as lurid and bizarre as any found on pro-Trump sub-Reddit platforms and in the alt-right blogosphere.
Putting aside the fact that right-wing groups spent more money on political ads pushing Kavanaugh’s appointment than the “left,” watching his performance on television I thought that Kavanaugh might start spouting off about the “deep state,” George Soros, Uranium One, and the “murders” of Vince Foster and Seth Rich. The nation witnessed the spectacle of a sitting federal judge referencing conspiracies as lurid and bizarre as any found on pro-Trump sub-Reddit platforms and in the alt-right blogosphere.
And all of this rhetorical subterfuge erupted because a credible woman who knew him in high school courageously stepped forward to share her story of sexual assault, that if proven true, would likely cost him his entitled elevation to the Supreme Court. This kind of national shame is to be expected when a right-wing Republican president accused of sexual assault nominates to the Supreme Court a right-wing Republican judge accused of sexual assault.
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham went off the rails during the same hearing loudly excoriating the Democrats for bringing up the issue of sexual assault in the first place, and clearly accepting the same conspiracy theories Kavanaugh espoused. Kavanaugh’s smile during Graham’s rant (which he quickly checked) revealed a self-satisfied enjoyment of the partisan fireworks in his behalf. The nation had to endure the spectacle of Kavanaugh, Graham, and the rest of the privileged and powerful Republican men on the committee play-acting the role of aggrieved victims of Democratic machinations.
Lost in the fog of testosterone was Dr. Blasey Ford’s heartrending story of sexual assault that traumatized her and changed her life — the reason the hearing had been called in the first place.
And that was the real aim of Senator Graham’s tirade.
He unceremoniously tossed aside the woman prosecutor, Rachel Mitchell, who the Republicans flew in from Arizona to shield them from the patriarchal optics. And then he filled the room with white male angst to deflect from the seriousness, authenticity, and rawness of the jarring testimony the nation had just heard from Christine Blasey Ford.
It was all part of a contrived plan to impress their Republican “God Emperor” in the White House (and his base, which is their base).
Brett Kavanaugh Fabricates History
When Trump first introduced Kavanaugh as his nominee the judge gushed that no president in history had spent more time and due diligence in selecting a Supreme Court nominee, which was a baseless historical fabrication with the sole aim of flattering Trump.
Out of the gate Kavanaugh proved to be a liar and ass-kisser.
Not only did Kavanaugh get his historical facts wrong about Trump being somehow a uniquely thorough president in choosing a Supreme Court nominee, he put forth an erroneous historical interpretation of the meaning of the Senate’s 1987 rejection of Robert Bork for the Supreme Court.
In his bombastic testimony Kavanaugh claime he was the victim of a “good old fashioned Borking.”
For the record: Robert Bork wasn’t rejected to serve on the nation’s highest court because of his “conservative” ideology. He was rejected (which the Republicans call being “Borked”) because in October 1973 he was a hatchet man in the most notorious and dangerous incident of the entire Watergate scandal that threw the country into full-fledged Constitutional crisis: the “Saturday Night Massacre.”
As Solicitor General in the Justice Department, Robert Bork stepped forward at President Richard Nixon’s request to fire the Special Prosecutor, Archibald Cox, after the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General resigned their posts rather than follow Nixon’s order. Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckleshaus viewed the firing of the Special Prosecutor as obstruction of justice (which it was); but Bork was fine with it and carried out the firing as the number three official of the Justice Department.
Lately, the “Saturday Night Massacre” has been the subject of historical interest because of its obvious similarities between Nixon’s actions in 1973 and Trump’s threats to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.
If Brett Kavanaugh believes the false right-wing narrative that Bork was an innocent victim of Democratic villainy then he would be a clearly dangerous Justice to sit on the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh has also written opinions recently where he turned 180 degrees away from his views in the 1990s when he worked for Kenneth Starr, to a position now where he sees the presidency as having the powers of an 18th Century monarch where no investigation of wrongdoing on the president’s part is legitimate. This is probably the reason why Trump nominated him over the many other less controversial by qualified “conservative” candidates on the list the Federalist Society gave him.
The historical parallels between the Christine Blasey Ford/Brett Kavanaugh hearings and the October 1991 Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings are striking. In both cases an extremely credible woman stepped forward under excruciating conditions to share painful interactions she had had with a Supreme Court nominee, which reflected on the nominee’s character and fitness for the post.
The all-male Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991 treated Anita Hill abhorrently even though she was sharing her relevant workplace sexual harassment experiences on the part of Clarence Thomas when she worked for him at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission during the Reagan Administration and in other posts.
At least in 1991, when Professor Hill came forward there were witnesses called before the committee and a reopening of Thomas’s F.B.I. background check. In the case of Blasey Ford, even though she was sharing far worse behavior than workplace harassment on the part of Kavanaugh, the Republican men on the Judiciary Committee did everything they could to sweep her story under the rug.
Presently, the only reason why Kavanaugh’s F.B.I. background check was reopened at all was because of a rare “profile in courage” moment from Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake (who’s not running for office again) who joined the Democrats and managed to squeeze out one week of formal investigation of Blasey Ford’s allegations.
Ten of the eleven Republican men on the Judiciary Committee had no problem seating a man on the Supreme Court who has been credibly accused of sexual assault, just as the committee in 1991 had no problem seating a Justice who was credibly accused of sexual harassment.
Retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy shouldn’t be given a pass on precipitating this crisis. It was Anthony Kennedy’s decision to retire at this time and hand a second Supreme Court appointment to an unfit extremist president who didn’t win the popular vote and has been named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a number of crimes by his former personal lawyer. Kavanaugh clerked for Kennedy and no doubt was seen as a protege.
Handing his seat over to Trump to fill is a fitting coda for Kennedy’s legacy who shouldn’t be given a free pass for the damage he has done to American democracy because of his swing vote on gay marriage. Kennedy gave us Citizens United, which ruled that corporations are “people” and money is “speech.”
His “swing” vote on that 5-to-4 ruling opened the floodgates of political money that has inundated our elections and has made every election cycle since break the record previously set for the most money spent on our increasingly corrupted campaign finance system.
Race and Class
Whereas the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas conflict centered largely on race — Thomas famously called the hearing about his sexual harassment “a high-tech lynching” — the Christine Blasey Ford/Brett Kavanaugh clash is largely about class. Blasey comes from the same social class as Kavanaugh, she attended a similar elite private prep school and she and her family passed through the same country club circles as the Kavanaughs. Had Kavanaugh been accused of sexually assaulting a Latina hotel worker or a Walmart cashier instead of a young woman from his own social class he’d probably be sitting on the Supreme Court right now. Because of her background and education Blasey Ford had the resources and tools to come forward and fight back in a way that few working-class women with less prominent social connections ever could; and the Republicans on the committee still treated her like shit. (Think how they would’ve treated a less educated working-class woman of color).
(I always believed that President George Herbert Walker Bush’s decision to fill retiring Justice Thurgood Marshall’s seat with Clarence Thomas was a manipulation of “identity politics” in favor of white supremacy. “Okay,” Bush seemed to be saying, “you liberals want this seat to be reserved for an African American jurist — well here’s Clarence Thomas for you.”
Replacing Thurgood Marshall, a giant in American jurisprudence — the lead attorney in the landmark 1954 Brown decision that ended legal segregation in America, a lawyer who dedicated his life to furthering justice and equality for all Americans, especially those facing discrimination, and the first African American ever to serve on the Supreme Court — with a right-wing Republican lawyer with little experience as a judge whose skin happened to be black was the ultimate twist, and came from the president whose 1988 campaign gave us Willie Horton.
But since both Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas are African American the optics on race during the 1991 hearings were somewhat neutralized, just as the optics on gender were somewhat neutralized by the Republican men recruiting Rachel Mitchell to question Blasey Ford.)
In this sense, Blasey Ford is even more unique because her stand for sexual assault survivors transcends class and race. She’s also more of a hero today because she had the courage to come forward despite the toxicity of our current public discourse. The seemingly endless number of “deplorables” and other alt-right flying monkeys, meme makers and shitposters on the Internet have so effectively saturated our political discourse that Blasey Ford faced far more animus than Anita Hill did 1991.
The Truth Is Like Salt
Last summer, Blasey Ford simply wanted to warn her government that a man on the short list of possible Supreme Court candidates had sexually assaulted her in high school. And for that simple act of civic duty the Republican alt-right attack machinery placed her in its sites: “My family and I have been the target of constant harassment and death threats,” Blasey said in her written testimony.
“And I’ve been called the most vile and hateful names imaginable. These messages . . . have been terrifying and have rocked me to my core. People have posted my personal information and that of my parents on line on the Internet. This has resulted in additional emails, calls, and threats. My family and I were forced out of our home. Since September 16th my family and I have been visiting in various secure locales, at times separated, at times together, with the help of security guards. This past Tuesday evening [September 25, 2018] my work email was hacked and messages were sent out trying to recant my description of the sexual assault. Apart for the assault itself, these past couple of weeks have been the hardest in my life.”
Has Brett Kavanaugh or any other Republican booster of his appointment expressed any concern or regret for this kind of behavior toward Dr. Christine Blasey Ford coming from his supporters?
Now that there will be one week of F.B.I. investigation into the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh there is a better chance that the truth will come out.
The truth is like salt. It’s pure. And adding more doesn’t make it any saltier.
Brett Kavanaugh lied about Trump’s “historic” due diligence in choosing him; he lied about the vast left-wing conspiracy to “Bork” him; he lied about his partisan hackery while he served on Ken Starr’s staff and in George W. Bush’s White House; he lied about receiving stolen documents from the Senate Judiciary Committee when he was working to seat Bush’s judges; he lied about his drinking as a youth, and even lied about the terms contained in his high school yearbook.
I believe Christine Blasey Ford.
And all of those Republican men (and women) are going to look pretty bad when the evidence comes forth that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is telling the truth and Brett Kavanaugh is a liar.
Joseph Palermo's Blog