Thursday, September 27, 2018

A Deal with the Devil (Kavanaugh hearings)

Some thoughts on the Blasey Ford/Kavanaugh hearings....

As I see it, two layers here intersect, but should not be conflated. The first is Kavanaugh's confirmation. The other is the verisimilitude of Blasey Ford's allegations. The problem is an assumption that bringing forward Blasey Ford's allegations at the 11th hour was done solely to stop the confirmation and that means they're false (or at lease "mixed up," to use one Republican senator's assessment, even before hearing her testimony). This is false logic, and I'd ding a student who tried to use it in a paper. Why?

We have a verifiable paper trail. One could argue all of it is a lie--everybody on the Democratic side is making it up from the get-go--but that seems overly conspiratorial. Let's take the basics: Blasey Ford submitted her allegations to her representative when Kavanaugh was merely one of several names that had floated to the top of potential Supreme Court nominees. But--this is very important--she asked to remain anonymous, because she feared (rightly) the blow-back. The woman is a psychologist. She's probably better suited than most of us to assess the likely outcome of her emergence from obscurity with name attached.

So the issue is not that she failed to come forward earlier in the confirmations (she clearly did come forward earlier), but with why her allegation was saved until later.

Some would/have tried to sing the ol’ “Why didn’t she report it at the time?” song, which is notably tone deaf in the wake of the many #WhyIDidn’tReport stories. We won’t even look at the difference between the early 1980s and the late 20-teens, in how women were treated in court for allegations of sexual assault. She’d have been slut-shamed; I know, I graduated high school in 1982. I wouldn’t have reported it, either. I could go into this further but I have other fish to fry. If you’re inclined to blame her for not reporting it in the early ‘80s, you’re living on a different planet, or at least in a delusional bubble.

The better question is why did Feinstein wait so long to bring up this letter? I think anyone honestly considering the whole thing must ask it. Yet I fear it's been couched in an automatic negative that assumes, as part of it, the fabrication of the entire episode. E.g., she held it back because Feinstein and company cooked it up at the last minute. (But see above about when Blasey Ford wrote and submitted it, originally.)

I'd like to re-posit Feinstein's reasons to the positive: she sought to respect Blasey Ford's request for anonymity, and her legitimate fear of going public. Blasey Ford has a family, and kids. Terror of reporting due to threat (or at least fear) of retribution against not just the victim, but a victim’s family, is a potent tool for criminals of all types since antiquity. Here the threat wasn’t from Kavanaugh, per se, but from the rabid supporters of his confirmation who would—and did—threaten Blasey Ford and her family with violence.

Feinstein knew things would get ugly; she got elected in the wake of the Anita Hill hearings. She was disinclined to bring it up if it looked as if Kavanaugh would not be confirmed anyway. Blasey Ford submitted her accusations because she was worried that Kavanaugh would wind up on the Supreme Court. If it seemed like he wouldn't, why expose Blasey Ford to a potential 3-Ring Circus?

So yes, when it seemed that he might be confirmed, Feinstein brought out the letter...not because it was false, or made up, but because the time had come, and she suspected Blasey Ford would want that--which appears to have been the case. As Blasey Ford said herself, she was terrified to testify on Thursday, but believed testifying was her civic duty.

So Feinstein kept the letter confidential to protect Blasey Ford's requested anonymity, not as some trumped-up charge at the last minute. When it looked as if Kavanaugh might be confirmed in a highly partisan vote, Feinstein decided the good of the many outweighed the good of the one, and gambled Blasey Ford would agree. You may not like Feinstein's decision, you may think the letter should have been put forward sooner, but I do not believe her motives for reserving it were, as Kavanaugh claimed, "seek and destroy"...unless it was to avoid seek and destroy of Blasey Ford, re-victimizing her.

Is it political? Of course it is, but not in the way so stridently touted today by Kavanaugh. Roe vs. Wade is the real political battle here. Yet putting a sexual predator on the High Court (in a lifetime appointment) just to abolish Roe vs. Wade—that’s immoral. I understand the larger question of abortion is complex. I am pro-Choice, but understand, and even respect, pro-Life arguments, even if I think they mostly rest on faulty biology or outdated theology. But pick a better candidate.

This is all about TIMING, as Kavanaugh’s supporters fear that control of at least the House will change and the bulk of the US electorate does not favor abolishing Roe vs. Wade.  It’s become “Kavanaugh or bust.” Yet putting Kavanaugh on the court just to get a swing vote to kill Roe vs. Wade is a deal with the devil.