Like millions of other people, I watched the hearings today with a mixture of anger, pity, disbelief and with a strong sense that I was watching an unfunny outtake from Idiocracy.
The Republicans, hirelings to plutocrats and deeply flawed parodies of Americans, strutted and stormed and proclaimed their deep moral dungeon over the terrible mistreatment this sweet, innocent man had received at the claws of vengeful leftists.
Twenty-five years ago, that might have flown. Republicans had moral, ethical and intellectual credibility at one time. But then came Newt, and Slappy, and the Blue Dress, and Cheney and Iraq and the treatment of Obama and…well, these days Republican protestations of morality ring as hollow as a tired old hooker’s cries of passion. Republicans, moral high ground? Oh, bubbles, that ship has sailed, and once over the horizon, it sank without a trace.
Brett Kavanaugh acted like a drunk in a bar who has been called out on his bullshit and realizes that all he’s got left is bluster. So Kavanaugh shouted, veins in his forehead pulsed as his cheeks flamed, and he vacillated wildly between bellicose attacks and cries of victimhood. At one point, trying to refute the simple and obvious answer that the FBI should put in a week investigating the claims brought against him and report to the Committee, howled that he had already been through eleven days—an eternity in spoiled prep boy who isn’t getting what he wants time—and he had been destroyed and his family had been destroyed and now they wanted to add to it by having the temerity to ask if the accusers might have a case! Republicans with tattered wisps of remaining humanity stared at the floor and bit their lips and wondered how it all came to this.
The subtext of Kavanaugh’s tirade was evident enough: “Just shut up and appoint me, you assholes! Don’t you know I’m Somebody? I’m Important! I’m Entitled! So stop dicking around pretending you’re anything other than pathetic little lickspittles of the Kochs and put me on the court so we can be done with this ‘democracy’ bullshit!”
Entitled. He could have any job he wanted. Any favor he wanted. Any preference.
There are reports that Trump, watching this unfold from the West Wing, was in a towering rage. He supposedly was furious that the female prosecutor brought in to figleaf GOP misogyny, Rachel Mitchell of Arizona, wasn’t treating Dr. Ford with the same sneering contempt that he would have. In a move that may or may not be related, Trump abruptly postponed the meeting with Rob Rosenstein, meaning we don’t get to find out if he is fired or not for another week. Oh, gosh, we won’t learn his fate until next week’s episode of “Dancing with the Tsars.”
I felt sorry for Rachel Mitchell. She was under orders to treat Dr. Christine Blasey Ford with compassion and respect. That made prosecution exceedingly difficult, a bit like asking a mass murderer to take on the hero of the story without his guns, knives and garrottes. Even worse, she was given no opportunity to investigate the case at all, meaning she had to ask questions she didn’t know the answers to, and had no way to catch Ford out in any contradictions.
How did that go? Foxnews, not exactly a dispassionate and unbiased observer, was reduced to this breathless headline to describe how Mitchell was dismantling Ford: “Ford dramatically recounts assault claims against Kavanaugh; can’t say who paid for August polygraph”
She tried to make an issue of who was paying Ford, and asked who was paying for her lawyers. One of them spoke up: “We’re working pro bono.” And they paid for the lie detector. Oops.
Kavanaugh, humping the vast left wing conspiracy angle, demanded to know why the eleven angry democrats “who were seeking revenge for the Clintons.” Well, maybe if the Democrats on the committee hadn’t trouped in wearing Bill Clinton masks and chanting “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is”…At least, to hear Kavanaugh’s take on it.
Kavanaugh is purely a creature of Trump, having essentially promised him that when the indictments began to fly he would shield the president from any and all charges and subpoenas by ruling the president was above the law. And Trump had been openly unimpressed with the calm, deliberative manner Kavanaugh feigned in the first round of meetings. Trump, of course, has no way of understanding that’s how a candidate for the Supreme Court is supposed to behave during the appointment hearings. So Kavanaugh, playing to the mad president rather than the country, tried channeling Trump’s bellicosity, dishonesty and bluster.
It was the worst move he could have possibly made, and it may have destroyed whatever slim chance he had of getting appointed.
Frankly, I’m surprised he hasn’t already withdrawn. I didn’t expect today to go well for him, and he managed to turn it into an utter catastrophe.