John Colson: Brett Kavanaugh charges must be fully aired in Senate Judiciary Committee
Hit & Run
Here we are again, 27 years after a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee made up of tired old white men put a tired and lying old black man, Clarence Thomas, on the U.S. Supreme Court, after those senators spent a week completely trashing a young black woman who made credible claims that Thomas had sexually harassed and stalked her while she worked as his law clerk.
This was after the FBI, at the behest of the committee, investigated former law clerk Anita Hill’s claims for all of three days, if I remember correctly. It was under heavy pressure from the administration of George H.W. Bush and some senators that the agency concluded Hill’s claims were groundless, and Thomas was confirmed.
The uncomfortable truth was that her testimony had the ring of truth, and that her behavior at the hearings was incalculably more honorable and credible than either the senators or Thomas, but that obviously played no part in the final decision.
No, the deciding factors were politics, male chauvinism and racist disregard for anything a black woman might say to besmirch the reputation of a solid Republican nominee — particularly one who is black himself, and who shamelessly played the race card during the hearings, though he had been a lifetime foe of affirmative action and black activism in general.
Given all that, I find it interesting that Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, as he stands poised to become the next Supreme Court associate justice, should suddenly be undermined by a charge that as a young man of 17 he once tried to forcibly rape a high school girl two years younger than he.
Kavanaugh has denied any involvement in any such activity, just as Clarence Thomas did in 1991.
And it looks as though any corroborative evidence that might be given by schoolmates of Kavanaugh and his accuser will not be allowed by Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, just as testimony by Hill’s supporters was disallowed by then-chairman Orrin Hatch.
Hatch, by the way, still sits on the judiciary committee and has been fomenting against anyone who gives the Kavanaugh accusations any credibility or weight, thereby doubling down on what apparently is a lifelong disinclination to allow testimony to cross his path that might conflict with his own hard-right convictions.
And the Republican hierarchy, from President Donald Trump on down, has been downright piggish in its determination to ridicule and belittle Kavanaugh’s accuser, which is the classic strategy for men determined to protect one of their own against charges of sexual misbehavior made by a woman.
But there are some cracks in the Big Red Wall of Republican denial and obfuscation, which also is very interesting.
For instance, conservative columnist Ross Douthat at The New York Times has penned a couple of columns suggesting, ever so hesitantly and cautiously, that the Senate must allow for a free and fair hearing of the charges lodged by Kavanaugh’s accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.
And while Douthat did not say it outright, to my way of thinking “free and fair” includes a demand for an FBI investigation into her allegations, a move that Republicans have broadly rejected.
What Douthat did specifically mention, though, was his belief that to rush through Kavanaugh’s appointment without a complete airing of Ford’s charges would “taint” Kavanaugh’s service on the high court, even if he were innocent of attempted rape three decades ago.
The investigation into Kavanaugh’s suitability for service also ought to cover other potentially “tainting” behavior, such as charges that he has long insisted that his law clerks be comely, shapely and pretty — a dog whistle for his being a sexist and possibly a sexual predator among his own staff.
And an FBI investigation, at the least, is needed just as much in the Kavanaugh case as it was in the Thomas case.
Because this is a lifetime appointment, Kavanaugh, 53, is a relatively young man, and roughly half the country is not feeling very positive about his appointment to the Supreme Court right now.
Before I end this I feel I must remind readers, in case you had forgotten, we are rapidly approaching election day 2018, when it is to be hoped by the left that the U.S. electorate sees fit to vote in enough Democrats running for congressional seats to end the Republican hegemony in our government, because we have all seen the dreadful, world-threatening results of having the Grand Old Party in charge of everything.
And that puts the ball in the court of every thinking voter in the land. Even if you find that certain candidates on your ballot are not the “perfect” fit for your particular needs or desires, even if you think these candidates are not exactly your cup of tea, you need to get out and vote this time.
This is especially true if, in 2016, you let your need for a perfect candidate get in the way of your casting a ballot for a not-so-perfect candidate, because in doing so you effectively helped Donald Trump win the presidency.
It is time we admitted that ours is not a perfect form of government, nor is it perhaps the best government for humanity.
But it’s the only government we’ve got, and if we don’t want it to remain stuck in the gutter of Trump’s worst impulses, we have to get to the polls and vote!
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