These words are my third attempt to write about the nomination and confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States, a vote which passed 50 to 48, the tightest in over a century. I have tried to come at this subject from several different angles, but as I have discovered, the reason this debacle is so divisive is precisely because there is only the one question that matters, and that is a "gut check."
At the end of the day, who do you believe?
For what it's worth, I trust Kavanaugh's denials of the allegations brought against him more than I believe the veracity of Christine Blasey Ford and three others. I fully admit this is largely due to my bias. However, I'd argue bias is an indispensable facet of this ugly scenario.
First problem: context. It is irrefutable that activists, particularly those aligned with the Democratic Party, had their sights set on blocking Kavanaugh before anyone ever heard of Ford or the other accusers. Kavanaugh's social and political conservatism are a widely known fact (though mischaracterized as extreme) and the liberal outrage machine had already decided that this Supreme Court nominee was going to assist in the Nazi-fication of America, damn the facts.
Second problem: Ford's letter. This item was in the hands of Senator Dianne Feinstein for months before the pot boiled over last month. Regardless of the veracity of the letter's detail, why didn't Senator Feinstein go straight to the White House with this evidence and explain that Kavanaugh should withdraw?
If she had, such a move would have shown genuine concern for the court's integrity - instead, it all looks like yet another "gotcha" attempt for media coverage.
Third problem: he said, she said.
The "believe all survivors" slogan is beyond idiotic - all people are capable of lying.
The issue was, on the balance of probabilities, which narrative held more water prima facie: that Kavanaugh was a perfectly camouflaged monster for 30 years, his staff and family totally ignorant of his vices?
Or that whatever might of transpired between him and Ford, the fact that she chose now to reveal her shocking story was incredibly convenient?
Fourth problem: what she said versus what is confirmed. Digging in deeper to Ford's story did not corroborate it, heart-wrenching as her narrative was. Furthermore, there was no evidence of prior police reports about the assault that allegedly took place; she had reason to believe law enforcement would accept her story at the time yet she did not go to them. The FBI's cursory investigation of said accusations came up with bupkis - what more can be asked?
Fifth problem: who benefits?
If people are naturally noble, rejecting Kavanaugh with shaky evidence would be fine, as no one would game the system; however, if people are self-interested, then rejecting Kavanaugh on less than irrefutable evidence would invite ever more spurious accusations to stop particular nominees or policies. The senate had to send a message to #MeToo activists and others - "accusations must be backed up by hard facts."
Final problem: forgotten purpose. These hearings are to decide whether a nominee is judicially savvy enough to have the final say on questions of law in a republic of 350 million souls. In Canada, while our process might be too secretive, the lack of media distraction keeps the review focused on the candidates' judicial merits.
Every confirmation in America since the 1980's has been absurd, thanks to senators' questions for media attention and vice versa.
None of what occurred regarding Ford vs. Kavanaugh will help make sexual assault more likely to be reported nor for common citizens to believe such charges.
There are rules for doubling down and risking big: the crash is that much worse when you gamble and lose.
I could digest "Kavanaugh: incompetent." However, I couldn't stomach, "Kavanaugh: evil incarnate."