I woke up very early today. I could not sleep. While it sounds melodramatic to say it, it is because I came away from yesterday’s Kavanaugh hearing feeling more acutely than ever that something is profoundly wrong with the way our country works.
It may be easy to shrug that off. To say: Of course, what else is new. Inequality has been growing for 40 years. The richest and most powerful have gamed the system. Racism and sexism remain rampant and institutionalized. We are fiscally reckless.
We spend vast sums on the military beyond any reasonable measure of our needs but under invest in children, infrastructure, our future and the aging. Most Americans, in the richest country in world history, live with crushing economic anxiety every single day of their lives.
Two out of our last three presidents have been elected despite having not won the majority of votes cast. Our current president is the most unqualified and morally bankrupt in our history. He was elected with the aid of a foreign enemy. He is a serial sex abuser.
He is profoundly corrupt, feathering his own nest at the expense of the American people. He has actively worked to undermine the international order that the US invested in for three-quarters of a century precisely because it kept us safe and prosperous.
He has displayed the ugliest of faces to the world, turning away refugees, alienating our closest friends, pulling out of important international agreements, undermining alliances. He has served the few at home, giving the top .01% big benefits he took from everyone else.
He has supported white supremacists & attacked Muslims, women, Mexicans, refugees, and all people of color. He let Puerto Ricans die by the thousands in the wake of Hurricane Maria. He has locked children in cages at our border. He has given key jobs to unqualified family members.
He has sought to dismantled health care and environmental protections, waged a war against science and history. He has lied thousands upon thousands of times to the point that it has become a signature. He has not only made America a laughingstock, but he has weakened us.
He has toadied to tyrants and blustered us shattered relationships. He has touted non-existent achievements, while threats like North Koreas nuclear arsenal grow. But yet, what happened yesterday, somehow went beyond this. Somehow was more troubling.
It was not just that the entire Kavanaugh process has been corrupt from the outset. It was corrupted by the treatment of Merrick Garland. It was corrupted by the fact that K was clearly chosen because Trump felt he might protect him should his cases/crimes come before the court.
It was corrupted by the collaboration of the GOP Senate leadership and the White House to withhold vast amounts of information from Kavanaugh’s professional records or because they set an arbitrary accelerated confirmation schedule out of fear of political defeat in November.
It was corrupted because the candidate for the nation’s highest court had a clear record of lying to the Senate that was overlooked and by the fact that he held extreme views that might someday deprive women of their rights, undermine the environment & deepen our unending, ever-worsening national gun crisis.
It was corrupted too, because there were serious questions about Judge Kavanaugh’s moral fitness for the job, questions that echoed the history of our sexually abusive president, questions that brought us to yesterday’s hearing.
But it was not just all those things either that made yesterday so disturbing. Rather, it was that we were made to witness precisely the kind of crime the Senate the judge was accused of committing and the Senate was supposed to be investigating.
We were witnessing a kind of attempted rape. I am conscious that is strong language. The past few weeks, thanks to the courage of people like Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, have made us all acutely aware of the wide-spreading suffering of victims of sexual abuse in America.
That is why it was so hard to watch yesterday as a courageous woman stepped forward, at great personal risk and with no personal benefit that could in any way result from her action. She was playing the under-appreciated but nonetheless vital role of citizen.
She was soft-spoken and overcame her clear unease at being in the spotlight. In other words, she was profoundly courageous. She was also compelling, gracious, smart, strong and above all, convincing in her accusation that Brett Kavanaugh had violated her when she was just 15.
She answered every question, offered corroboration and welcomed further investigation, any investigation, because she was certain it would support her truth. The truth. The reality of a horrific experience she has had to live with for 36 years.
She put herself at risk in this process run by old white men who had denied her the investigation that should have taken place before hand, denied her the clarity bringing witnesses to testify under oath would have brought, denied her the time for the most rudimentary process.
Flaunting rules and tradition and decency and seemingly without regard for either the institution they were serving or the one to which Kavanaugh was nominated, they created arbitrary guidelines and did not even have the courage to question her themselves.
And she came forward nonetheless. And she was a hero, representing not just herself but millions of victims with dignity and honor. And then, frustrated that their efforts to crush her complaint by process had not work, they erupted in violent anger.
Emulating Trump, Kavanaugh began the onslaught. He ranted and raved and wept and displayed his indignation that this woman had sidetracked the path to the highest court in the land to which he clearly felt entitled. Indeed, his sense of prep school boy entitlement was palpable.
He interrupted and attacked Senators. He displayed a partisanship and temperament that were in themselves disqualifying for the high office he sought. He baited. He whined. And time and time again, he lied–about the meaning of words, about what letters from other witness meant.
He was then joined in this by the GOP members on the Judiciary Committee who set aside their transparent farce of having a prosecutor there to question only the victim, and they too erupted. Led by Lindsey Graham they called the process a sham.
And they did to Dr. Blasey Ford exactly what she said Kavanaugh did years before. They sought to use brute force to get their way and to negate all she had done. They abused the process and her and by extension every victim in the country. (Continued.)
Kavanaugh and the men on the committee shouted and threatened and accused and bullied to get what they wanted and to seek to obliterate the memory of Blasey Ford, to negate her and her accusation.
It was a hearing about attempted rape but they were angered not at the underlying crime but that they had to have a hearing at all, that their political plans had been derailed by a mere woman, by facts. Devoid of compassion or decency they declared a crime had been committed.
But of course, they sought to commit one. They know Kavanaugh has lied. They know his record is flawed. They covered it up. They know investigation as called for. They set artificial deadlines to short-circuit it. They would have their way with America regardless of facts.
No mere woman nor the outrage of a nation of women and right-thinking men would derail them. So, like a drunken bro turning up the music to drown out the cries of a woman for help, they turned up the volume to drown out Dr. Blasey Ford.
That is what was so disturbing. We didn’t investigate the crime that was reported. We got to witness it again. They derogated reports that Kavanaugh had stood by as women were serially violated by men. But that is precisely what happened again yesterday.
It was as disgusting and disturbing a public display as I have ever seen, further proof that the Trump-led GOP had cast aside any pretense of morality in the service of pure power and the narrow agenda of a few extremists and their rich, white, male sponsors.
Yesterday began with a hero who dared to speak truth to power about an attempted rape. And now the GOP seeks to end it with the consummation of the crime begun by Kavanaugh on a summer night in 1982. It is more than a scandal. It is a sign this great country is profoundly broken.