Schwab: There’s more than a court appointment at stake here

Thursday’s hearing revealed much about what we — and our political parties — think of women.

By Sid Schwab

Let’s ignore whether Brett Kavanaugh’s behavior as a teenager predicts future character.

After all, who among us didn’t attempt a rape or two in high school? What parents didn’t raise their children, boys and girls, to understand it’s just how things work? And what evangelical preacher’s son of an evangelical preacher hasn’t taught us that attempted rapists “respect” their victims when they “walk away” after the girls lock themselves in bathrooms?

That aside, assume, for a moment, Professor Ford is being truthful. Is it hard to imagine how traumatized she’d have been? Might one understand her sense of injustice at seeing her attacker ascending to our nation’s highest court? Is it impossible to believe she’d feel compelled to speak out, for her own sake, if not for the country’s?

Consider other possible responses. What if Kavanaugh had the human decency to say, “I don’t remember the events, but I got so drunk in those days I can’t say they didn’t happen. If so, I’m deeply sorry, and I understand the anger and hurt. I hope people can believe I’m no longer that boy.” What if, instead of attacking Professor Ford, Republicans had expressed a modicum of empathy and understanding? Might it make approval more palatable?

None of that happened, of course; empathy and understanding aren’t who they are. Leaders and, evidently, most members of today’s Republican Party, including, amazingly enough, many women, don’t regard women that highly. Their responses to Kavanaugh’s accusers include only “she’s lying” and “what’s the big deal.” Comments coming from the Republican men on the Judiciary Committee (most of whom voted against the Violence Against Women Act) ought to appall all women and at least that subset of men who have wives, daughters, sisters or mothers.

Having elected a “president” who bragged about sexual predation, the reaction from the right is consistent. Trump’s amorality was well-enough known before the election that it must have been thought a positive by his voters, making their current attitude explainable.

To characterize Professor Ford as anything but brave is to be willfully blind. She knew what she was in for, including now-routine death threats, yet decided sharing her story was important enough to risk ruining her life. Will it ruin Kavanaugh’s? Hardly. He’ll likely be approved anyway; if not, he still has a lifetime job with cushy hours and enviable pay.

That she didn’t report the crime when it happened is no mystery. Girls have always known what to expect: insinuations and accusations, word against word; especially privileged word. Who can doubt the fear and shame, the blame and repercussions certain to follow? Republican leaders, and Trumpists, is who.

So the question isn’t just whether Brett Kavanaugh belongs on the court. It includes the much larger issue of how women are treated, especially by our respective political parties. Whether women who accuse men of sexual crimes should be considered truthful unless proven otherwise, or only the accused? Someone is lying. Why should that presumption apply only to the claimant? Yes, false accusations can happen; as can false declarations of innocence. Which is why not rushing to Judge-ment is called for.

Accordingly, one might ponder the significance of Dr. Ford requesting an FBI investigation, while Kavanaugh and his backers stand against it. Maybe they’re worried about his fishy finances being addressed, too. (Mother Jones: tinyurl.com/who-paid4U)

But, OK. She’s lying, as are the others who’ve since come forward, because what woman wouldn’t? Besides, assaulting women is simply what guys do. As it happens, though, there remain compelling reasons to reject Kavanaugh, beginning with the gnathonic, non-independent-judiciary-ish words he spoke at his nomination ceremony, and ending with lying to Congress, at least twice, under oath. Not that Republicans ever considered the latter an impeachable offense. (The Nation: tinyurl.com/fibber-liar)

Dodging questions, claiming memory loss, offering self-righteous refusals, Kavanaugh made Neil Gorsuch seem like Moses on Sinai. Running to Fox “news” was glaringly unjudicial in itself, and pathetic as he repeated rehearsed talking points, again and again. But, having chosen him not for integrity, but for his views on presidential indictments, regulations, workers’ rights, plus his irrefragable future approval of their voter-suppression tactics, Republicans are determined to seat him, regardless.

Whatever else is true, Kavanaugh’s performance at Thursday’s hearing, unhinged, making crazy claims about the Clintons, hyper-partisan shouting, emotional instability, says he’ll never be an impartial jurist. And that was when he was sober! His unsuitability for the court couldn’t be more evident. (tinyurl.com/nogood4U)

Email Sid Schwab at columnsid@gmail.com.

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