First off, what happened today went as expected. It was political theater. It was not intended to get at the truth. Nor was the wish of the committee to get anywhere close to the truth. Why there were refusals about ordering an FBI investigation, which became a political football as well.
It did establish a few things though.
If you are a woman who even dares to accuse powerful men, prepare to be dragged through the mud. Perhaps it’s best if you think twice about it, and just keep your trap shut.
Mind you, Doctor Christine Blasey Ford was a very measured and careful witness. We do know that she remembers what happened, and she knows who did it. Was this established to a legal standard? No. Why? To do that we need the kind of investigation a special victims unit does. We need the kind of law enforcement that does that kind of work, and a prosecutor that cares.
All those are in rare supply and the US Senate, especially the Republicans, who are not interested in that. They are not looking for facts. So we are left with she said.
The other clear message is…stop coming out. If you do, we will pound on you. And of course, the Democrats remained friendly and were trying to find some facts, but they were as guilty of the political theater as the other side.
So here we come to Judge Brett Kavanaugh… and what was established.
We know now that Kavanaugh drinks. He admitted as much. We know he likes beer, though not what brand. We know he kept a calendar because his dad did. And we also know, and this is actually relevant, that his father still attends Alcoholic Anonymous at 92.
We also know the man has a temper. That performance in front of the Senate, if it came from the woman that preceded him would have been called both unhinged and hysterical. Incidentally, you may want to call it that. Some hyper-partisans are. I call it entitled. I call it white, upper class, male privilege. Kavanaugh feels entitled and this was clear in the way he treated Democrats who tried to get at some facts.
As I said the other day, I have transported the children of the well connected to the hospital, I have heard the question, do you know who my dad is? We were missing that exact question, but the attitude was exactly that, How dare you?
When this jumped the shark, and he will get away with it because he was talking to the base, is when he accused the Democrats of carrying on the politics of personal destruction and trying to ruin his career. Why do you ask? Well, the 2016 election and the Clintons of course. Remember, he worked with Ken Starr and was one of the people responsible for that impeachment, over the meaning of sex and sexual acts.
While most observers have avoided the actual terms that were in his calendar from 1982, some of them are not just crude, but very sexual. The Devil’s Triangle allusion comes to mind, incidentally.
There were moments that were amazing to watch. One Senator tried to equate this with the McCarthy hearings. Another is apparently auditioning for Attorney General (yes that would be Lindsey Graham.) A third went into how badly both were treated by Democrats. (Ted Cruz.)
Did we learn much? No, not really.
We started and ended the day the same way it started. It was she said, he said, not unlike the Anita Hill hearing. We even had the angry privileged man, who refused to allow for an FBI investigation, after lying and telling us that he wanted that yesterday. The exchange with Dick Durbin is something that is worth watching.
We also have the shadow of Mark Judge over these hearings.
So what are we left with?
It is a political Roeshart test. People are reacting according to what sports team they support, and do not make excuses, we treat politics as sports. Team blue and team red are not after the truth here. They simply are not. Democrats do not control the process and have no way to stop it. That is not unless moderate Republicans do cross their party and their own moderates do not vote with Republicans. It might happen.
Republicans are claiming Democrats are being just political (they are, duh) but so are Republicans. They are accusing the other side of trying to do what they can’t, which is subverting the process. They can’t do anything unless they control the majority. They don’t because they are not the majority.
What you are watching is a classic appeal to both party bases. The story will be true, to a point. It is meant to activate voters for November. It is also meant to raise money. And like the Anita Hill hearing a generation ago, it has nothing to do with finding the truth.
But what about the rest of the country? The November elections are not going to be decided by either party base. It is going to happen in suburban areas and with independent voters. Both parties know this. However, this goes well beyond November or elections. It goes to a cultural moment. We are in a transition where women are asserting themselves. Women know this stay quiet, we will try you, go back to the kitchen cannot be allowed.
Today was not a moment of truth. It was political theater. But it was also a cultural moment. Change takes time. I hate to say it, but three steps forward, and two steps back.
I have taken victims of sexual assault to the ER. They were both men and women. In a few cases, children. What happened today may very well advance that cultural moment when victims will not be asked, what were you wearing? Why did you go to that party? Perhaps this will point to a cultural change. Today we had some of that incidentally.
As to the Senate, unless a few votes go a certain way, Judge Kavanaugh will be elevated to the Supreme Court.
This should also wake up many voters, who do not care about the Courts. They matter.