The Republicans Put On Quite a Show

October 1, 2018 by Leonard Pitts

Give the Republicans credit: they worked hard to create the appearance of enlightened compassion.

Meaning, of course, Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing into claims by psychology professor Dr. Christine Blasey Ford that, 36 years ago, when she was 15 and he 17, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh drunkenly tried to rape her. With the ghost of Anita Hill staring over their shoulders, GOP lawmakers were desperate to stage-manage the optics.

To avoid repeating the ugly spectacle of a group of men questioning a lone woman on matters of sexual misconduct, they had a woman specially imported for that purpose — Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell. Later in the day, when Kavanaugh testified in rebuttal, they elbowed Mitchell aside and took over the questioning themselves, competing with one another to offer ever more fulsome acknowledgments of his suffering. They were careful to extend equally effusive words to Ford.

Which made no sense. Both these people cannot be deserving of deference. One of them has, indeed, been wronged — but the other has lied his or her face off. Those are the only available options here — nutty theories about mistaken identity notwithstanding — and no amount of false equivalence can mitigate that.

You can’t find them both credible. You can’t believe them both. For the record, I believe her.

The Republicans did not. After all that show of false equivalence, the committee voted Friday to recommend confirmation. This was the opposite of surprising. Indeed, as Thursday wore on, it was ever more obvious that beneath the veneer of enlightened compassion lay a visceral and volcanic fury at the temerity of this challenge. That was particularly obvious in the nominee and in one of his chief defenders, Sen. Lindsey Graham.

The former issued an opening statement seething with resentment and testified with unseemly snappishness and contemptuous scorn for Democrats on the panel. The latter threw a hissy fit so epic you fully expected him to drop an accidental F-bomb. A finger-pointing Graham scolded Democrats for supposedly politicizing the process of choosing a Supreme Court justice, calling it, “the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics.”

One could only marvel at the self-control of Democrats who did not scream Merrick Garland’s name as a retort to this hypocritical and amnesiac attack.

And so it goes.

Twenty-seven years after Sen. Howell Heflin (D-AL) asked Anita Hill if she were not in fact “a scorned woman” by the hunk of burning love that is Clarence Thomas, a credibly accused attempted rapist may soon join Thomas on the Supreme Court. In the era of #MeToo, in the week that convicted rapist Bill Cosby was hauled to prison in shackles, this is a jarringly discordant note, a pointed reminder of how much hasn’t changed.

We live in an era where an allegation of sexual misconduct makes you unfit for the “Today” show — but probably not the Supreme Court. To the contrary, some rank and file Republicans have explicitly said they’d support Kavanaugh even if the allegations were proven true. Others cling to the notion of Ford as the tool of an orchestrated political smear, even though Dr. Ford first named Kavanaugh as her attacker six years ago, long before there could have been any political value in doing it.

So the fact that Republicans managed to get through this without pulling a Heflin does not impress. They put on a show, gave the appearance of enlightened compassion for a victim of sexual misconduct.

But even after 27 years, the real thing lies beyond them, still.

Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. Readers may contact him via e-mail at lpitts@miamiherald.com.

© 2018 THE MIAMI HERALD DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Opinions

How to Nurture a Mission-Driven Culture for a Growing Millennial Workforce Opinions
How to Nurture a Mission-Driven Culture for a Growing Millennial Workforce
January 17, 2019
by Victoria Macdonald

With Millennials emerging as the largest demographic in the American workforce, companies are struggling to understand how to engage a rising tide of young employees who are looking beyond a paycheck to a sense... Read More

Obscenity’s Not Just a Set of Words Opinions
Obscenity’s Not Just a Set of Words
January 9, 2019
by Leonard Pitts

As a general rule, I don't curse a lot. I've found that I can usually express myself effectively enough without it. And it's always seemed to me that foul language, used ubiquitously, loses its primary value, i.e., its ability to... Read More

America’s New Year’s Resolution Opinions
America’s New Year’s Resolution
January 2, 2019
by Robert B. Reich

After Donald Trump's first bizarre year as president, his apologists told us he was growing into the job and that in his second year he'd be more restrained and more respectful of democratic institutions. Wrong. He's been worse. Read More

Israel’s Upcoming Elections Opinions
Israel’s Upcoming Elections
January 2, 2019
by Dan Cohen

Israelis will go to the polls to elect a new parliamentary government (The Knesset) and a Prime Minister on April 9. Unlike the US, it is not a binary choice between Democrat and Republican. Read More

Trump’s Shutdown and the Economic Precipice Opinions
Trump’s Shutdown and the Economic Precipice
December 24, 2018
by Robert B. Reich

I was in Bill Clinton's Cabinet when Newt Gingrich pulled the plug on the federal government in the mid-'90s. It wasn't a pretty picture. A long shutdown hurts millions of people who rely on government for services and paychecks. Read More

The Narc on the Shelf Opinions
The Narc on the Shelf
comments 1

Thirteen years into this parenting gig I was pretty sure that I was acing low-key holiday parenting. Kids get something big-ish from us, modest things from Santa (equality, ya know), a few books, maybe an experience, but, most importantly NO ELF ON THE SHELF. Read More

Straight From The Well
scroll top