By Jonathon Van Maren
I’ve been watching the Supreme Court drama unfold over the last several weeks with a slowly growing sense of dread at each fresh headline. This has been sickening to watch, difficult to process, and exhausting to analyze, with new information being dumped online by the minute. One thing is certainly true: If Kavanaugh survives this trial by fire—and he very well might—he will be the most anti-progressive, rock-ribbed conservative on the Supreme Court after what the Left has done to him and his family. I wasn’t sure if he’d vote against Roe when he was first put forward, but I’m pretty sure he would now. Anyhow, for what they’re worth, here are three of my observations on this unfolding national tragedy:
The Left has killed the #MeToo Movement—and undermined Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony
When the Democrats and the media decided to weaponize sexual assault allegations against a Supreme Court nominee for expressly political purposes, they took a movement that has been largely organic and transformed it into a tool with which to bludgeon someone they perceived as a political opponent. They did not simply stop with the allegations of Dr. Ford, which were received with widespread sympathy even within the Republican camp–instead, they went on to accuse Kavanaugh of being a drug-dispensing gang rapist, with professional sleazebag Michael Avenatti fulminating on the cable networks about Kavanaugh the Kingpin.
As has been widely noted, the case against Kavanaugh grows weaker with each new flimsy allegation, because as the media and the Democrats gleefully disseminate obviously ridiculous accusations that could nonetheless destroy Kavanaugh’s life, they reveal that they are fundamentally acting in bad faith—that regardless of the accuracy of the testimony of Ford or anyone else, they are willing to throw everything within their reach at the nominee. The truth, at the end of the day, does not matter to them—unless it happens to conveniently align with their goal of destroying Kavanaugh. As Lindsay Graham pointed out, the Democrats could have given Ford a hearing and an investigation without the three-ring circus, but they decided not to—because she was not a sexual assault victim to them, she was a hand grenade they wanted to drop on Kavanaugh’s lap.
The same is true for the women who confronted Senator Jeff Flake in the elevator, and possibly persuaded him to demand another FBI investigation into Kavanaugh—they were progressive activists, using the experience of sexual assault to batter a senator on a political decision with pure and primal passion—essentially, emotional blackmail: If you don’t obey us, you don’t care about rape victims. And although it wasn’t covered, the women who cornered Flake yelled one thing that again highlighted why they were there: This nominee could be making decisions about women’s bodies. That, of course, is leftist jargon for “abortion.” This really is all about abortion.
By weaponizing sexual assault allegations and testimonies as a political tool, the Left has done the #MeToo movement a huge disservice, because from now on many will simply dismiss allegations from the Left or the Right as political hit jobs. Everyone can see, for example, that the flimsiest accusations against Kavanaugh are taken with the utmost seriousness, but more serious allegations against Democrat Keith Ellison were ignored—proving that it is not that all alleged victims should be believed, just those who happen to be accusing Republicans. The same would be true vice versa. After Kavanaugh, I suspect that most people will believe accusations leveled by those on “their side,” and disbelieve those that are leveled by those on the “other side.” That’s a shame, and you can thank Senator Feinstein and her pals for it.
The Kavanaugh-Ford hearings have personalized everything
I was disappointed when I heard that Kavanaugh was the nominee simply because he seemed like the sort of bland, moderate, milquetoast Republican that would vote to uphold the consensus because that’s what he represented. I also told several friends that if the nominee was male, the Left would attempt to destroy him with #MeToo allegations regardless of who he was and regardless of the truth—they will stop at nothing to protect Roe and the right to abortion (and after 60 million dead babies, what’s the reputation of a single man?) When the allegations against him first surfaced, my first thought was that the Republicans should just pull Kavanaugh and see if they could ramrod Amy Coney Barrett through before the midterms. I was thinking in purely political terms—how do we get Kennedy’s seat?—rather than considering what getting pulled would do to Kavanaugh. For him, there are only two outcomes now: He’s either a Supreme Court justice, or a man with his entire life in shambles. He could very well be both.
After watching Ford’s testimony, I was even more convinced that they should simply pull Kavanaugh, especially considering how powerful it was. And then Kavanaugh testified, and everything changed—and not just for me. Kavanaugh finally humanized himself, and suddenly we were all forced to consider the facts: That a family man who swears under oath that he has been falsely accused could have his life reduced to rubble over accusations that would never stand up in court of law, with no corroborating witnesses. That Kavanaugh was not a man fighting for a seat on the Supreme Court, but a man fighting for the rest of his life and for his family name. And that Kavanaugh was the canary in the coal mine—if unsubstantiated and nearly four-decade-old he-said she-said allegations could destroy a man’s life and career with no burden of proof and no presumption of innocence, then to put it simply: Nobody is safe. Anyone can be accused and see their life destroyed without any available recourse.
Something snapped during these hearings
I can’t put a finger on exactly what it is, but these hearings changed something. Ben Shapiro noted that civil war feels like a more tangible possibility simply because it is suddenly easy to imagine someone shooting a senator (leftist activists have already rushed both Jeff Flake and Mitch McConnell, as well as screaming Ted Cruz and his wife out of a DC restaurant.) This seems like a moment that we can’t come back from. No amount of FBI investigations are going to convince the Left that Brett Kavanaugh is a good family man—they hate him because he threatens their sacrament of abortion, and there is nothing that can be done to convince them that he is innocent. Regardless of how this turns out, a pretty large percentage of the population is going to believe that a rapist is sitting on the Court, or conversely that an innocent man was destroyed for political purposes—and that the “other side” did it.
In other words, trust in the fundamental institutions of the United States of America will be based on partisanship rather than citizenship. The Right and the Left are at open war with one another, and we are beginning to see what people are willing to do to regain or retain power. This atmosphere is poisonous for all sides, and the system can only bend so far before snapping. I don’t know if that’s where we are, but watching the hearings and the chaos outside, the cracking sound was almost audible. As Noah Rothman put it in a column in Commentary titled “The Tipping Point”:
There can be no face-saving here. One side will win, and the other will lose. Every American with a constituency is obliged to do whatever they can to take the temperature down on this moment, but they will shirk that duty. What can you do? It’s an election year. The rampant conflation of political with cultural issues has created an atmosphere in which all day-to-day conduct of public affairs is tinged with tension. Every conflict is existential. Every fight is a battle for supremacy. Every loss is a strike against justice. This is a construct, and sober minds should start attacking it. But there will be no sobriety or circumspection any time soon. And the boiling point is approaching.
For anyone interested, my book on The Culture War, which analyzes the journey our culture has taken from the way it was to the way it is and examines the Sexual Revolution, hook-up culture, the rise of the porn plague, abortion, commodity culture, euthanasia, and the gay rights movement, is available for sale here.