Political Tipping Point
I got up early to write this before must-see TV, so I have no idea how the Brett Kavanaugh/Christine Ford hearings will go. The likely scenario is that Democrats and protestors will make this a zoo, and we will wind up exactly where we started — with credible and emotional presentations from both, nothing proven, and the outcome dependent on the politics of how a handful of GOP senators react.
But the hearings are not the only story. The last couple days have been extraordinary and add up to a very dicey statement of the status of our politics and even the country as a whole. Consider just four events. The elements may seem unrelated, but together they say a ton.
Bill Cosby gets sentenced to 3-10 years in prison as a result of a conviction in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt for years of criminal sexual abuse. The #MeToo movement played a role in this by encouraging women to come forward and confront powerful men with a pattern of abuse that had been swept under the rug. And good for the court process that did it right. Victims came forward with accusations and evidence, the accused had the right to challenge the charges in court, the jury ruled, and the judge sentenced. The accused was presumed innocent until the victims and the prosecution proved otherwise to the jury. Sounds like justice prevailed.
Then we get a few more unsubstantiated accusations against Kavanaugh, some anonymous, some vague, some with zero witnesses or supposed witnesses who denied everything, and one courtesy of the creepy porn lawyer whose “client” masked innuendo in a “affidavit” and had no one to support her story. This is radically different from the accusations from Ford, which at least appear to be sincere. It is telling that Democrats are trying to use these last-minute accusations as evidence of the type of “pattern” displayed by Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, and others, and is the best they can do after months of their thousands of activists, staffers, and complicit media scouring Kavanaugh’s life. It comes across as a bogus political stunt aimed solely at delaying the proceedings resulting in Kavanaugh’s withdrawal. Wouldn’t that be convenient for the red-state Democrats facing a tough vote.
My wife and I had dinner last night with another couple who are close friends. We chatted a bit about the Kavanaugh proceedings. I am a conservative, as is my wife. The wife half of our friends is a staunch liberal, while her husband is a European-born moderate. Everyone recognized the importance of the Kavanaugh appointment since it would change the composition of the Court that, due to congressional punting, has become far more consequential than the Founders intended. But everyone also viewed the confirmation proceedings as bordering on farce, for different reasons. Granted, this is a limited sample, but it did cover the ideological spectrum, so perhaps some broader conclusions can be drawn.
The liberal in the group, like all of us, had no idea who was telling the truth regarding Dr. Ford’s accusation, but also dismissed the last-minute accusations as being not credible and solely politically motivated. She said it was unlikely a definitive conclusion would come out of the hearing today but that the Democrat-orchestrated circumstances leading up to today were sufficiently fishy as to put huge doubt into Ford’s credibility. All admitted that it was possible she did indeed suffer some trauma, but whether it involved Kavanaugh was far from true beyond a reasonable doubt, so she would be inclined to support him, absent some bombshell today.
My wife agreed with this, but came at it from a different perspective. She noted that the #MeToo movement that underlies a lot of this has gone to a point where it will almost certainly be counterproductive for women. If Kavanaugh is defeated on the basis of what is known now, it will cause personal survival in the workplace to rise to the top of the agenda, and women will be disadvantaged either by not being hired at all or by being shut out from personal mentoring. We’ve been to this movie before, such as the wave of pressure in the ‘70s and '80s on Wall Street that I encountered to hire and promote women to certain positions regardless of qualifications. That had the effect of pushing the cause of women back a decade and only recovered when the pendulum of qualifications swung back to fair. My wife thinks today will be worse, since the accusations are not just discrimination that inhibit advancement but involve criminal charges.
Our other friend took a more European approach. He said that Europe is laughing at us, both because we are shocked that powerful men have sex with less powerful women and because we are letting an alleged incident that occurred in high school impact the review of the character of a highly qualified nominee. He actually believes it is highly likely that Ford is telling the truth and something like what she described actually happened — and he and Europe don’t care. He found it absurd that a hearing is being held to listen to “he said, she said” when even if it really happened, it didn’t matter.
I don’t agree with that approach, since if the charges are true, I think is does matter. But Kavanaugh has said under oath that the incident never happened, and there is no corroboration that it did. But my conclusion that Kavanaugh should be confirmed is based far more on one simple fact. Both Ford and the other accusers who brought forth criminal sexual-assault allegations chose not to bring the complaints directly to the authorities who have jurisdiction over the alleged crimes. If this were bad enough to rise to the level of criminal activity, make the charge. And even if the trauma caused repressed memory over the years, there is no statute of limitations. There is nothing preventing her or others from going to the authorities now, but they didn’t.
Further, we now have two guys coming forward to say that there could have a case of mistaken identity, since they admitted it could have been them who were involved in the Ford incident. Both could be right — Dr. Ford could have suffered a traumatic event, but didn’t recall the true identities of those involved, while Kavanaugh’s unconditional denial that he was involved in the accusation could also be true. In the height of irony, Democrats have cried foul at this “last minute” revelation. You can’t make this up.
It is obvious that the Democrats driving the train don’t give a whit about Ford. She is a political pawn whose wish to remain anonymous was violated for political expediency, and whether she is further traumatized by appearing in public is irrelevant to them. They simply need her image to bolster their political motives. But Democrats are also aware of the vague nature of the accusations from 35 years ago, since there are no specifics on time, place, participants, location, etc. which means it wouldn’t get far with the authorities. And even though that would not be dispositive, it would cut the legs out from under their narrative.
My point is that people from a wide range of political persuasions have come to the same conclusion from different perspectives and for different reasons. I also believe in the American people’s sense of fairness, and the ultimate impression is that the process has not been fair to Kavanaugh. Moreover, the efforts of Democrats will result in a November backlash. Their act will play perfectly with the small fraction of the voting public represented by the fringe far Left, but the vast middle of reasonable folks will see it just the opposite and will let the country know about it in six weeks.
In this same mode we have another disgraceful event orchestrated by the far Left and executed by antifa, and that’s the assault (no other way to describe it) on Ted Cruz and his wife at a DC restaurant. A group of protestors surrounded his table chanting “we believe the survivors,” and nothing was done to stop it, nor were police called. That was bad enough, but then when Cruz and his wife got up to leave, a guy got in his face and threatened him. The excuse given by Democrats is that Cruz is a public figure, and if he can’t stand the heat, he should get out of the kitchen. But is this where we have come to in our political discourse? According to the tactics of Democrats at the Kavanaugh hearings, the answer is, sadly, “Yes.”
Think about that for a second. This is assault and physical intimidation, which, regardless of the strength of one’s views, is totally unacceptable. Yet it has become the staple of far-left protest and resistance. We are getting dangerously close to having this spill over into real violence, either because Democrats will take their protest vision too far or because some GOP official who is carrying for personal protection is going to take the in-your-face assault as a real threat and take action. This needs to get dialed back and returned to vigorous but civil debate. In any case, it’s another piece of evidence that will influence reasonable folks to come to the midterm polls and make their no more voice heard.
Which brings me to the fourth event — Trump’s speech at the UN. Say what you want about the substance of his message, but no one can dispute that it was one of the most powerful and clear statements by a president of what he believes and what he intends to do. In an ideal world, this would have caused those on the other side of the issues to rise up and present their opposite case. There was no shortage of topics — economy, tax cuts, regulations, trade, foreign policy, the role of the UN, and others. But the speech got precious little coverage, and what was covered by the media focused on supposed exaggerations and/or fibs by Trump. It became what the Resistance has solely focused on — the personal, rather than the issues. Yet another sad comment on the current state of political play and the trajectory of where we are headed as a country.
I have made the point repeatedly that this will not stop until Democrats are made to believe that the goal of all this — to get elected and return to power — will not be served by these approaches. Reasonable folks need to take a hard commonsense look at this, decide if this is the political world they want to live in, and vote accordingly. Until then, we will remain on dangerous ground where accusations are enough to ruin people’s lives, and violence instead of reasoned debate is a realistic threat. If recent events are any indication, the ice is getting very thin for the country, and the ballot box is the only acceptable answer.