I was reading Facebook. I know, big mistake, especially on the Thursday night after Dr. Ford’s testimony during Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings. A colleague of mine said that he was flipping back and forth between Hannity and Maddow, because he likes to hear both sides of an issue. His conclusion is that while Hannity and Maddow were both discussing a confirmation hearing they watched, he thinks they were watching entirely different proceedings.
I had also just read through, also on Facebook, the all-day postings from someone I went to High School. At the end, it was kind of like watching an real-time mental breakdown. Another one of her Facebook friends (probably former Facebook friend at this point), who happened to be pretty conservative, rather ineptly pointed out some of the faults in her reasoning. Her response filled many pages, without pause for breath or paragraph breaks.
Up until that point, she seems to have spent the day alternating between being glued to the spectacle on TV and writing-then-sending angry missives to her (Republican) federal representatives.
Like the Hannity/Maddow watcher, I’m trying to see this through her eyes. She seems somewhat better informed than the average citizen, so I feel like empathy should be possible. Just as a “for instance”, she had to correct a fellow traveler who chimed in on her feed. Said contributor wrote that the worst part about all this is how clear it is that the “Old Boys” of the Republican party blocked Obama’s Supreme Court appointment for this long, just so they could get Kavanaugh appointed. My friend had to clarify that Gorsuch filled the appointment to which she refers. That what we are actually watching now is an appointment to fill Kennedy’s seat.
Now here is where she and I find ourselves in two different worlds.
In my world, Kennedy announced his retirement, deliberately indicating that he felt an appointment before the midterm elections would help maintain the court’s balance. Trump worked from a short-list of conservative-friendly judges, but picked one that he thought would be somewhat Kennedy-like.
In her world, the appointment coincided with the revelation that Kennedy’s son’s tenure as a senior executive with Deutsche Bank was concurrent with both Russian-centric corruption and billions in loans to Trump’s business dealings. While she admits that Snopes is so far unable to confirm this particular conspiracy, it all seems like just too much coincidence to not be related. Thus it seems pretty likely, to her, that Kennedy was forced out, using his son’s problems as leverage, so as to replace a moderating voice on the court with someone who would be in Trump’s pocket.
Some of you may live in her world and some of you live in mine. As I try to look into both of these realms, it seems impossible that you can imagine one from where you sit in the other.
What she is seeing, as she watches the hearings, is that Republicans have already made the decision to confirm and there is no information that will make them change their mind. Because of this, the guilt or innocence of Kavanaugh isn’t actually that relevant to her criticism of the proceedings. The fact that his involvement can be questioned is proof that the there is nothing that one could accuse him of that would give Republican’s pause. A variation, if you will, of Trump’s campaign pronouncement that he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody,” and his supporters would still back him. Clearly, in her mind, all motivation of the Republicans is purely political.
Of course, back in my world, it couldn’t be more clear that the motivation of the Democrats is entirely political and unrelated to Kavanaugh’s fitness or character. Sitting on evidence for as long as possible and trying to force this confirmation and its attendant chaos to take place in the weeks right before an election seems far more important that finding the truth or, indeed, finding any justice for his accusers. For the denizens of my world, although again no proof will be forthcoming, there seems no other explanation than that the victims in this have been set up by some powerful people, wither willingly or unwittingly, to provide a political victory, no matter whom those in power have to hurt to get there. Will this destroy the accusers along with the accused? Sure, but sometimes you have a break a few eggs.
Part of which world you live in is determined by whom you think are the more venal politicians, the left or the right. The small minority who are convinced that everyone is crooked and corrupt aside, I think most people have a good idea who are the good guys and who are the bad guys in this play.
So as she watches the hearings, with mounting horror, the motives of Republicans become ever more clear just from watching them. Everything they do has clear political motivation. We know they put politics over principles when they blocked Obama’s nomination of Garland. This is just an extension of politics as usual for them.
What is special, this time, and what is making my friend write letter after letter to her Congressmen, is that all this dirt, appearing at just this time, means there is a real chance that Kavanaugh’s nomination could fail. All it takes is to have two Republican Senators demure; to feel enough uncertainty to say “let’s slow this down a little until I understand what is going on a little better.” In fact, to her, it would seem like more than a chance. More of a certainty, given the sordidness of these accusations.
But, one may ask, if we’re not sure if those sordid accusations are even accurate, how strongly do we weigh them? The key, in her universe, is that Kavanaugh is obviously one of “them.” The other. Raised in wealth, he went to an exclusive private school where he found himself at the top of the heap. He played football, partied with the cool kids, and got away with stuff that may have got most of us in trouble at his age. At least, those of us who aren’t so special as he was. Whether he did this or that, particularly, is not the issue. We know he did something and we have every hope that something will bring him down.
Seeing that hope slip away has got to be painful.
Because for my friend and many who share her world, there is no doubt that appointing Kavanaugh is an existential threat to the nation and to civilization. The key seems to be that comment he made about shielding a sitting president from prosecution. From that, it is clear to them that Trump selected Kavanaugh to protect him legally and, like Caesar, Trump would rather put an end to the Republic than expose himself to impeachment and prosecution. Kavanaugh is the key to this grand plan.
Now back in my world, Trump’s selection of Kavanaugh was an obvious attempt at selecting the compromise candidate out of, I’ll admit, a pretty decent field (for conservatives). The willingness to call in a nuclear strike on Kavanaugh indicates that they will never compromise even on the most minor of issues. Furthermore, while the anti-Trump crowd may have specific things that bother them about Kavanaugh, the left stated clearly that they were going to fight whomever Trump nominated, even before they knew who it was. Can we really believe them when they say that this is particular to Kavanaugh when they’ve already said it doesn’t matter who it is?
Clearly there are fundamental world views that cannot be reconciled here. A bigger question is will this eventually pass, allowing us to participate together in the civic process? Or is this one more step down a road from which there is no turning back?
One area we might agree on is what happens if the Democrats succeed and so scupper Kavanaugh’s nomination.
First, those who tend to support some combination of either Trump, Kavanaugh, or Republicans in general will turn, viciously, on each other. While the Democrats engineered and executed this circus, the right will blame each other for the outcome. More accurately, factions within the right will blame other factions within the right. The resultant infighting will certainly hurt the November elections, including races that have nothing to do with Trump, the Supreme Court, or the political questions involved.
Second, we’ll probably get an even better nominee proposed to the Supreme Court, and Republicans may make an effort to get that done before the November election. Yet another Facebook acquaintance is even of the opinion that Trump is behind it all, deliberately setting up the Democrats to embarrass themselves with Kavanaugh so that he can get that better choice appointed without resistance (Amy Barrett comes to mind). Also, in this analysis, Trump tricked the Democrats into opening sealed records from the Bush administration; records which cover controversial topics such as Vincent Foster’s death and the September 11th terrorist attacks. Kavanaugh was just a tool to get incriminating documents before the public. I wonder what Snopes has to say about that?
But now, with Kavanaugh withdrawn or disqualified, the rush will really be on to confirm quickly. In Kavanaugh’s case, extreme measures were required to delay his confirmation through the election. But if a new nominee starts now, is it really possible to wrap it up in just over a month? Particularly if the Democrats “win” this round, it would give them momentum going into the next one. And since, going back to my “first” (two paragraphs up), chaos and anger and bitterness are seen to help them in the upcoming elections, this might all feed into a scenario where they can hamstring the Supreme Court with a 4-4 ties throughout the remainder of the Trump administration, and then, after they take him out, they get their “permanent majority” plans back on track with solidly progressive Supreme Court appointments easily confirmed by their new, but eternal, majority.
I wonder what my high school friend would have to say about my world?