So let us review, shall we? A manifestly unfit president, who has been credibly accused of serial assaults on women and who has indeed boasted about doing so, has nominated a Supreme Court justice who’s now credibly accused of assault – by a woman named Christine Blasey Ford, a respected professor of clinical psychology who recently passed a polygraph test administered by a former agent of the FBI. But if Senate Republicans have their druthers, credibly accused assaulter Brett Kavanaugh will be speedily hustled to the top bench, where he could be the crucial fifth vote to assault the right of women to control their bodies.
Is it any wonder that women are fleeing the GOP en masse? That women are jonesing for a Democratic Congress by a whopping 40 percentage points (65 to 25)?
In the wake of Sunday’s revelations – Ford going on the record about what happened to her when she was 15; her acing of the polygraph; her 2012 consultations with a therapist whose notes were partially shared with The Washington Post – it is abundantly clear that Donald Trump’s servile Republicans have suddenly been confronted with a very serious dilemma. Should they try to bulldoze the Kavanaugh nomination through the Senate Judiciary Committee, ignoring Ford’s story and denying her the forum that was accorded 27 years ago to Clarence Thomas accuser Anita Hill? Or are they willing to slow down the confirmation process – the Senate is supposedly known as The World’s Most Deliberative Body – and give this woman her proverbial day in court, thus demonstrating that, morally speaking, they still have a pulse?
We now have the answer. Senate Republican leaders yesterday released a statement attacking “Democrats’ tactics and motives,” and reminded us that, when the allegations first surfaced, “Judge Kavanaugh and others alleged to have been involved unequivocally denied these claims.” So there are no plans to postpone the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation vote, still scheduled for Thursday.
Of course there are no plans. Let those snowflake Democrats police their own people when assault allegations surface; heck, that’s how Al Franken lost his career. Republicans have a different sensibility. Never mind what Ford vividly remembers about Kavanaugh (“I thought he might inadvertently kill me. He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing”); what matters to Republicans is winning at all costs. What’s the worth of a female accuser, who says her mouth was covered to stop her from screaming, when raw power is at stake?
Granted, the GOP’s pigheaded instincts might soften as this story plays out in the days ahead. Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake, both members of the Judiciary Committee, signaled Sunday that they want to hear what Ford has to say – and that perhaps more scrutiny of Kavanaugh is warranted. (Flake: “For me, we can’t vote until we hear more.”) But you are surely not shocked to learn that the vibe at the White House is to pressure the Republican senators to cede nothing and attack the accuser. And this report, from Politico, says it all: Three people close to the Trump administration “expect the president to go after Kavanaugh’s accuser rather than to turn on the judge. They noted that Trump has done so before, not just denouncing his own accusers but also attacking those of others, notably, failed Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.”
And some people wonder why female accusers stay silent for so long. Kudos to Ford – excuse me, Dr. Ford – for being brave enough to take abuse from a “president” who finds it easier to attack women than to confront Putin.
Then we got this gem from “a lawyer close to the White House” who told Politico that the Kavanaugh nomination will not be withdrawn: “No way, not even a hint of it. If anything, it’s the opposite. If somebody can be brought down by accusations like this, then you, me, every man certainly should be worried. We can all be accused of something.”
“Every man”…That is classic Trumpian misogyny, the fake notion that “every man should be worried” about being ambushed by a vengeful lying woman. Right, because women are just thirsting to have their lives ripped open on Twitter and national TV. This lawyer, whoever he is, seems ill-sensitized to the fact that Ford, decades after what happened as a teenager, was still dealing with it in couples therapy. Women in the electorate will get Ford’s struggle, even if Senate Republicans do not.
How about polygraphing Kavanaugh? The White House was threatening to polygraph its staffers in order to ID the anonymous aide who spilled to The New York Times, so clearly Trump believes that polygraphs are credible. Or perhaps one of the female Senate Republicans – most notably, Susan Collins or Lisa Murkowski – could simply threaten to withhold Yes votes for confirmation on the Senate floor unless or until Ford’s accusations receive the full airing they deserve.
Until Ford came forward by name, with her polygraph and therapist notes, the Kavanaugh nomination looked like a done deal. Perhaps it still is. But if Trump and the Republicans handle this latest plot twist in their inimitable fashion, they could turn the gender gap into a chasm, and pay a heavy price in the first major elections of the #MeToo era.