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

A Moral Issue We Should All Worry About Opinions
A Moral Issue We Should All Worry About
March 17, 2019
by Leonard Pitts

If you think you're angry now, wait till you read the court documents. Not that the summaries of a college cheating scandal so massive it briefly bumped Donald Trump from the "Breaking News" chyrons were not enough to make a nun cuss. Indeed, the story offered... Read More

'Game of Thrones' Fans Have Been Warned: 'You're Going to Need Therapy' Opinions
'Game of Thrones' Fans Have Been Warned: 'You're Going to Need Therapy'
March 13, 2019
by John Kass

In just a few weeks, millions of people from around the world will be weeping, screaming, pulling out their hair and issuing piteous cries of rage and grief while eating ice cream on the couch. Because in just a few weeks, HBO's series "Game of Thrones,"... Read More

Foreign-Policy Meddling Has Become a Two-Way Street Opinions
Foreign-Policy Meddling Has Become a Two-Way Street
March 12, 2019
by Rachel Marsden

PARIS -- Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney reportedly tore into current Vice President Mike Pence at a retreat on Sea Island, Georgia, last weekend in front of an exclusive audience of Republican donors. The annual retreat is sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, where President... Read More

The Dangers of Big Ideas and Small Tent Politics for House Democrats Opinions
The Dangers of Big Ideas and Small Tent Politics for House Democrats
March 6, 2019
by Anne Kim

Emboldened by their conviction that the national zeitgeist is on their side, the progressive left is taking a harder line against House Democrats reluctant to embrace their agenda. Groups like the Justice Democrats, for instance, have signaled their intent to primary moderate members who don’t espouse signature liberal... Read More

Police Suicide Is the Toll of Unaddressed Post-Traumatic Stress Opinions
Police Suicide Is the Toll of Unaddressed Post-Traumatic Stress
February 15, 2019
by Mary Sanchez

The black silhouettes posted to BlueHelp.org are immediately recognizable as police officers. Nameless and faceless, each outline represents an officer who took his or her own life. Three police suicides are listed for February 11, the day that the Kansas City Police Department announced the death... Read More

Congress: Listen to Young People on Gun Violence Opinions
Congress: Listen to Young People on Gun Violence
February 8, 2019
by Mary Sanchez

President Donald Trump neglected to mention gun violence in his State of the Union address. The following day, the congressional stalemate over what to do about the killing and mayhem played out at a House Judicial Committee hearing on gun violence. Most of the news coverage... Read More

Straight From The Well
scroll top