• Daniel Ethan Finneran

Kavanaugh Chaos

September 2018

Lest we be deceived, this Supreme Court confirmation process has little to do with the character of the man who’s being judged so that he might one day judge. The veil has been cast before our eyes, but as it turns out, its fabric is remarkably light. And, as the days wear on and our patience thin, we’re beginning to see through it with eyes increasingly acclimated to the fog. We’ve pulled the curtain to see beyond the gossamer accusations and the hazy recollections that Brett Kavanaugh’s personality is in fact a secondary matter in this sordid affair. Recognizing this seemingly faux-“Me-Too” moment for what it is, we see it’s primarily concerned with politics rather than personalities, with procrastination rather than fornication, with chicanery rather than lechery, with slander rather than substance.

If it weren’t solely about politics, and if the best interest of the victimized woman at the center of this controversy were at the heart of it all, Senator Diane Feinstein wouldn’t have sat on the information she’d gathered for so long a time. First made aware of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation of Brett Kavanaugh’s sexually mischievous advances made against her in high school in the early 1980’s in the middle of July of this year, Feinstein responded by not responding. In a word, she was inert—all mum’s the word was she as her opportunity to address this potential crime flitted away.

Feminism, as a movement, does many things well. Above all else, though, is the fact that it moves. It’s the urgency of action by which it conducts itself that makes Feminism so impressive and startling and momentous a phenomenon. Yet Feinstein—an avowed, if not aged feminist at least once every six years—sat on the damning tale that Dr. Blasey Ford had to tell. For seven long weeks, a great deal of time after the Senate Judiciary Committee (over which she, as the ranking Democrat in the bipartisan group, presides) held its public hearing over Kavanaugh’s fitness to serve as the next Justice on the Supreme Court, she held Dr. Blasey Ford’s allegations remarkably close to her chest. She revealed it not to colleagues in her own party, nor to Republicans in that of her opposition. None but she was privy to their existence and the potential fallout they might cause.

In hindsight, should Feinstein have brought up the allegation of Kavanaugh’s sexual misconduct during the proceeding, it wouldn’t have been too extraordinary a thing. Strange though it is to say, nearly more male justices than not have been accused of sexual indecency at one time or another. As of now, the number is two out of five—very nearly half. A precedent initiated with Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas, to accuse a potential Supreme Court justice of sexual impropriety seems now to have become standard course. It’s for this reason that Feinstein would’ve been operating well within the strange bounds of normality if she had brought the matter to light and imputed another right-leaning Supreme Court justice nominee of having engaged in sexual harassment.

She instead opted to keep the information in the dark where it could acidify and turn politically explosive. Nevertheless, even without Feinstein’s pending bombshell that would eventually come to be, the week-long confirmation process devolved into a highly-politicized and, at times, histrionic and debased affair. Kavanaugh was accused of everything from misogyny (in light of his still obscure and equivocating position on Roe v. Wade) to venality (as it pertains to his camaraderie with President Trump, against whose patronage he’d likely not turn should Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation unearth information that would be deemed sufficiently damning to lead to a Supreme Court vote as to whether or not he’d be impeached).

To inaugurate the proceedings, a gaggle of impudent, mainly female protestors gathered on the periphery of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s room to voice its displeasure with Kavanaugh, President Trump’s most recent nominee. Once nestled in, the group wasted little time in causing a scene. Not long after Kavanaugh had been seated and chairman Chuck Grassley delved into his opening remarks, the group erupted into indignant and gratingly inarticulate chants. With the shrill cries of “travesties” and “injustice” and the forewarnings of a handmaid’s tale state, the protestors set in motion a most extraordinary and indecent act, the likes of which the Senate rarely sees. To think of a comparably aggressive and tense moment in the history of the Senate, one is made to journey back to the mid-nineteenth century. There, one would witness firsthand a certain Thaddeus Stevens bludgeoning an unfortunate Charles Sumner with his furious cane. Not since then has a moment in Congress been so considerably pugnacious and fraught.

Senator Kamala Harris—Feinstein’s junior colleague from their shared state of California—isn’t known to hold her punches, erratic though they’re often aimed. Regardless, she donned her gloves and threw her sanctimony in the ring. Wasting no time, she tried to adjourn the proceedings before they could even begin. Having failed at that, she grilled Kavanaugh about his positions on Robert Mueller, the Russian campaign meddling investigation, and Roe v. Wade. Senator Cory Booker, a self-stylized fighter in his own right (and never one to be one-upped) chose a path including both sanctimony and history. Voice atremble and nerves on edge, Booker announced his “Spartacus” moment, as if the New Jersey senator were laying down his political life, if only to stanch Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Confusing a martyr for a rebel, Booker apparently didn’t realize that Spartacus—now liberated of his servility and an enemy of the Roman state—was crucified along the bloody road to that ancient capital of the world.

Yet even in the midst of all this gratuitous posturing and hullabaloo, Feinstein said not a word about Dr. Blasey Ford’s accusation. Instead, two weeks following the proceeding’s conclusion, she let it be known that the allegation existed at all.

Shamelessly apparent to us now is the fact that Feinstein, canny a senator she is, was simply playing for time. She recommended that a team of FBI agents be convoked to further probe the matter, which—one must add—took place at an unknown and probably unknowable location over three decades ago. Being that such investigations into old, un-corroborated, and wholly uncertain crimes take a fair bit of time to conduct, she also recommended that the senate not vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination until all could be laid bare. If Feinstein’s proposed course of action were to be pursued, the senate vote would never transpire—and that’s exactly the idea.

None of this is to diminish the veracity of Dr. Blasey Ford’s tale. It’s possible, though not likely verifiable, that she was indeed sexually exploited as a fifteen-year-old girl. She very well may have been at a party—a prep-school bash during whose inebriated mischief a seventeen-year-old Brett Kavanaugh smothered and groped an innocent girl. It’s also possible and, at least in this instance, probably likely that her memories of this experience have wounded her deeply and psychologically and have never retreated from her troubled mind. Like too many sexually victimized adolescents and kids, she may have struggled with this ineffaceable scar of her past, a now public cause célèbre from which she’ll never again be free. It’s also possible she’s misremembering important aspects of the night and grounding her accusations in the sands of a flimsy memory. Such is the unsteadiness of anno domini.

But those concerns don’t align with the umbrage Feinstein and her fellow Democrats now feel. The mental and emotional and sexual well-being of Dr. Blasey Ford have become ancillary considerations when there are political battles that need to be waged. And thus, onward the left will march until it achieves its goal of stopping Brett Kavanaugh’s ascension to the Supreme Court at Dr. Blasey Ford’s expense. It’ll stop at no end, but we’ll do well to watch what comes next with a sharper eye and a soberer field of view. This confirmation process isn’t about the sexual predation of a teen-aged girl and alleviating her trauma and getting to the truth. It’s about the potential of a lifetime of conservative adjudication on the highest court in the land. The public sees this for what truly it is.

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