The Kavanaugh Hearings Encapsulate the Rampant Emotionalism of American Politics
by Benjamin Studebaker.
The British have a visceral hatred for Donald Trump. It’s not because of his positions on immigration or tax policy–there are plenty of European politicians who are at least as far right as Trump is, substantively. No, it’s because of the way Trump presents himself. He’s combative, he gets angry, he makes flippant, emotional remarks. When British politicians show emotion it exposes them as weak, out of control, and unstable. If a British politician shouts or cries in public–especially in a formal setting–it’s embarrassing. It’s not proper behaviour. Everyone in Britain knows, from an early age, that this is just not how politicians are supposed to behave. They like their leaders calm, stoic, controlled. This is less true than it used to be–for a time, Tony Blair got away with wearing his heart on his sleeve. But there were always those who made fun of it, who thought it “un-British”. Whenever a British politician makes an emotional display and gets away with it, there is a chunk of British people who write nervous columns about creeping Americanisation. Having spent some years in the UK, I can spot the kind of American politics they hate a mile off. And it has never been so blatant, so in-your-face, as this senate hearing for Brett Kavanaugh...............
That’s the level at which we’ve been making personnel decisions as a country, and it’s landed us a congress full of emotionally manipulative con artists, a president who knows nothing about statecraft, and now a judicial nominee who helps presidents torture people and then lies about having done that to save his own skin. And the only question senators are asking themselves as they consider whether or not to vote for this reactionary patsy is “Do the voters at home like Kavanaugh? Do they think he’s a nice guy? Would they have a beer with him?”
Disgraceful. Disgusting. Despicable.
Still on the Kavanaugh issue, this excellent answer at Quora to the question
Why is Brett Kavanaugh a bad choice for the Supreme Court?
was written by Judy Klass, Truman Scholar, D.Phil Political Science/Latin American Studies. Ms Klass has kindly given me permission to post her words here.
Before any women stepped forward, Kavanaugh reminded me of Clarence Thomas. He’s that shallow and callow. His repetitive, weaselly, evasive answers to Senators’ questions annoy me. There are some men (John Roberts comes to mind) most of whose opinions on the Court I violently disagree with, and yet they have gravitas and comport themselves with dignity; they at least seem smart and thoughtful enough to be Supreme Court justices. Before we heard about the binge drinking of Kavanaugh, and the gambling addiction (all that money spent on baseball tickets? Really?), and him damaging someone’s truck while a drunken senior at Yale and refusing to apologize or pay for it, and the sexual allegations — before we’d heard all that, there was a snotty, bratty, inauthentic quality to Kavanaugh that I found quite off-putting. I went to prep school in the 1980s. I watched him and thought: I went to school with that kid. I know that type. Yuk.
Senator Leahy and others exposed the ways he lied before the Senate at earlier confirmation hearings for a lower judgeship — how he lied about whether he’d been part of W. administration conversations about the legality of torture (he said he wasn’t part of those talks and he was) and his disingenuous answers about illegally obtained information on Democrats that was shared with him … It just left a bad taste in my mouth.
Then I learned that he was the one pushing the garbage story about Vince Foster. Vince Foster battled depression, and was used to the more gentle, small-town feel of political life in Arkansas, and was overwhelmed by life in Washington DC, and was smeared by the Wall Street Journal, and committed suicide, and it caused his family great pain when Republicans pushed the BS story that the Clintons killed him. We learned during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings that Kavanaugh was pushing that BS story about Foster harder than anyone; he wouldn’t let it go. And then we learned he was the one pushing for both President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky to be forced to answer graphic, detailed, humiliating sexual questions about a consensual relationship that she initiated, he broke off and that they both preferred to keep private. That sewer bilge that was such a distinctive part of (college rapist enabler) Ken Starr’s investigation … apparently, a lot of it originated with Brett Kavanaugh.
If you watch Monica Lewinsky’s TED talk, she talks about how being publicly slut-shamed ruined her life. She compares herself to the Rutgers student who was gay and had his first sexual encounter, then learned his roommate had filmed and broadcast it — and the student who had been humiliated jumped off the George Washington Bridge. It was Brett Kavanaugh and Ken Starr who played the roommate’s role in her life, not the Clintons; Starr and Kavanaugh slut-shamed her and President Clinton, both. I’ve been thinking about that for the last few days: about Julie Swetnick’s statement that Kavanaugh loved to talk in crude, ugly, sexual terms, and talked about women in demeaning ways … and I thought of that TED talk when I read how Kavanaugh’s freshman college roommate said it would be totally in character for Kavanaugh and his crowd to have gotten Debbie Ramirez drunk on purpose and done what she says he/they did to her.
One of these personas was his prep school/frat boy incarnation, and one was his self-righteous, hyper-partisan, moralizing Republican lawyer incarnation — but are the two personas really all that different? Each persona adds up to a shame-challenged, potty-mouthed guy, an enemy of human privacy and dignity, into rude, crude humiliation games …
It’s unprecedented that Republicans refused to release SO MANY documents about Kavanaugh’s time in the W administration for Senators to consider before voting on his nomination. And the way they are refusing to have the FBI investigate credible claims of sexual assault is equally unprecedented — and a testament to how little faith they have in him, and how much they think they and he have to hide.
Seeing him yelling at the start of the hearing today, a hearing he asked for, calling it a disgrace, wallowing in self-pity, snippily scolding Democrats, showing no respect for US Senators … It was the same callow brat, just demonstrating more of his ugly side in public. He’s a Republican Party stooge, a party hack, a man who was all for destroying a president for purely partisan reasons, who then, with breathtaking hypocrisy, did a 180 and said oh, a president could commit any crime and still should not get prosecuted for it while in office … He’s Trump’s safety, his Get Out of Jail Free card, and it stinks to high heaven.
And if Republicans go ahead and hustle him through, and confirm this lying, boorish, unstable, contemptible creature to the United States Supreme Court, I won’t be a bit surprised.
After I'd prepared the above yesterday, what happened next?
Senate Republicans voted to advance the confirmation of US supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh after an extraordinary display of 11th-hour drama that saw a key Republican senator break ranks and call for an FBI investigation into the sexual assault allegations against Donald Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court.
Just before the Senate judiciary committee voted 11-10, along strict party lines, to send Kavanaugh’s nomination to the floor for the full chamber’s consideration, Republican Senator Jeff Flake (Arizona) announced he would support a “limited” FBI investigation and threatened to oppose Kavanaugh if there was no further examination of the allegations against him.
President Donald Trump said he has ordered the FBI to "conduct a supplemental investigation to update Judge Kavanaugh’s file" but clarified that he wanted it "limited in scope and completed in less than one week."
So on we go, the circus remains in town for another week.