Wednesday, September 19, 2018


In The Washington Post, Aaron Blake writes this about the possibility that voting on Brett Kavanaugh might be further delayed while the allegations of Christine Blasey Ford are considered:
The main problem for Republicans is that they have no real arguments for why this can’t wait, apart from purely political motivations. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) ... said Wednesday that the confirmation couldn’t wait....

“It is imperative the Judiciary committee move forward on the Kavanaugh nomination and a committee vote be taken ASAP,” Graham said.

The question is why? Why is it so imperative?
We know the real reasons it can't wait: Republicans want a base-motivating win before the midterms. They want Kavanaugh on the Court at the beginning of the next term. The president wants the next Supreme Court justice to be a believer in extreme deference to the whims of the president.

But they're not saying that. They're saying the vote needs to take place as soon as possible because ... it just does. Two years ago, they said Merrick Garland's Supreme Court nomination couldn't possibly be considered because ... it just couldn't. Not in an election year!

Republicans get away with this sort of thing all the time: They make up new norms on the spot and then Mitch McConnell, Orrin Hatch, or some other Republican doing a note-perfect imitation of a Salem witch trial judge scoldingly accuses Democrats and other critics of being advocates of chaos and anarchy -- even though it's Republicans who are throwing out the old rules.

Because they posture as defenders of tradition, and because much of the political world falls for this posturing, they get away with portraying the Democrats as the party of bomb-throwers and anarchists who are effectively indistinguishable from Antifa.

I'm seeing this on-the-fly rule creation not only in the way they talk about how nominees are considered but also in the way we're asked to think about the specific allegations against Kavanaugh. What Lili Loofbourow describes in Slate is a process of defining what we're allowed and not allowed to call a sex crime:
It is a remarkable fact of American life that hordes of men are now defending sexual assault.... a substantial group, many of them in politics, has taken to the internet to argue that a 17-year-old football player should get to do as he likes to a 15-year-old girl—say, for example, trap her in a bedroom, violently attempt to remove her clothes, and cover her mouth to muffle her screams—without consequences to his life or reputation.... It’s all in good fun, defenders declare. Horseplay.

Here’s the most surprising part: They’ve launched this peculiar defense despite the fact that the accused party denies it ever happened....

A White House lawyer was quoted saying, “If somebody can be brought down by accusations like this, then you, me, every man certainly should be worried.” Similar things were voiced by Ari Fleischer and Joe Walsh. Per this dark vision of the future, any consequence for committing assault—even being unable to move from one lifetime appointment to another lifetime appointment—is the beginning of the end of a just society....

Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Lance Morrow minimized the victim’s side of things further by declaring that the incident wasn’t serious enough to matter. “The thing happened—if it happened—an awfully long time ago, back in Ronald Reagan’s time. ... No clothes were removed, and no sexual penetration occurred.”
Conservatives believe they have the right to define or redefine norms whenever it suits them, and they expect the rest of us to accede to their definitions of what's allowed and what isn't. Too many people in and around politics let them get away with this, because Republicans seem to represent eternal values and tradition. That has to stop.

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