Donald Trump is right — words, by the way, I rarely use in that order — when he says the Brett Kavanaugh accusation story is a con game.
But the question — and one easily answered — is who’s doing the conning. Hint: It’s not who Trump says it is.
We don’t know if Christine Blasey Ford or Debbie Ramirez are telling the truth in their accusations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh, but it’s clear how much risk both face by coming forward and how little reward they can expect in the end. (See: Hill, Anita.)
What we do know is to ignore much of the rhetoric we’re hearing. All the Kavanaugh made-for-Fox-TV pleas for “a fair process” mean a fair process for him, who, he insists, is the real victim. I know I felt bad for one person — Kavanaugh’s wife — who had to sit through his interview on Fox in which he felt the need to tell the world his long-ago virginity status. What’s the line about too much information?
Meanwhile, all the Republican cries about lack of due process for Kavanaugh seem to willfully miss the point that Republicans control the entire process, due or otherwise. As the majority, Republicans decide everything — who does or doesn’t testify, for how long, under what circumstances. When you hear the words “lack of due process,” what you’re really hearing is any process which includes accusations against Kavanaugh, whose honor is being defended in this instance by the self-admitted pussy grabber himself.
What’s inarguable is that Republicans want Kavanaugh confirmed and Democrats don’t, which makes everything more complicated and more uncertain.
And truth? The last thing you can expect to learn from the Kavanaugh hearing is the truth. We have opinions going in. With luck, we’ll have slightly better-informed opinions coming out. If the Republicans who are running the show wanted to take a run at the truth, they would have, at minimum, called in the FBI to investigate. One Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, even felt the need to remind her colleagues that they should take the accusations seriously.
The Senate hearing is scheduled for Thursday. Ford and Kavanaugh are expected to testify. No witnesses will be called, including Kavanaugh friend and classmate Mark Judge, who Ford says was in the room when the assault took place. Judge has denied that. But if he faced the risk of perjury, would his story be any different? He wrote an entire book about drinking and sex at Georgetown Prep, where he and Kavanaugh went to high school. One of the characters in the book was “Bart O’Kavanaugh,” who was last seen puking in a friend’s car. Judge was last seen hiding out in Bethany Beach, Del., where he was found by The Washington Post.
Even in the best of circumstances, the truth might not come clear. There was apparently alcohol involved. And since the accusations are more than 30 years old, there would be gaps in memory. But the gaps, we understand, would extend to all sides. One theory to consider: It could be Kavanaugh who only vaguely remembers what happened.
We also don’t know whether Ramirez, in her separate accusation, will be given a chance to testify Thursday or at some other time or whether she even wants to testify. At this point, her lawyer is still calling for an FBI investigation. Before coming forward, Ramirez had worked for years dealing with domestic violence victims in Boulder. Presumably, she would know something about the risks and rewards.
Meanwhile, as we try to learn more, Republicans are gaming the refs. To begin with, there was the stunning decision by Kavanaugh to go on national TV to defend himself before the hearing, in which he pretty much painted himself as a choir boy.
There is, let us say, competing evidence, including from Kavanaugh’s now infamous high school yearbook page. Kavanaugh’s freshman roommate at Yale, James Roche, who is a friend of Ramirez’s, said in a statement that Kavanaugh was a heavy drinker even by freshman standards and that he “became aggressive and belligerent when he was very drunk.”
He added: “Based on my time with Debbie, I believe her to be unusually honest and straightforward and I cannot imagine her making this up. Based on my time with Brett, I believe that he and his social circle were capable of the actions that Debbie described.”
But Roche said he was not a witness to any such behavior. Of course, neither were the Republican senators who didn’t know Kavanaugh in his youth but seem pretty certain that the 53-year-old sober judge they do know couldn’t have been a reckless kid in high school or college.
And so, there was Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor saying Democrats were using the accusations to “smear” Kavanaugh.
And there was Orrin Hatch calling Ramirez’s accusation of Kavanaugh holding his penis in her face at a drunken freshman party at Yale “phony.” Asked how he knew that, he said, “because I know, that’s why.”
And there is Donald Trump and the Democratic con game. He made this accusation a few hours after being humiliated as a United Nations audience literally laughed during his speech when he boasted about the many historic accomplishments of his administration. Trump would eventually say that his line was intended to be a joke. I think he may have the wrong kind of joke in mind.
But not before saying this: “I think it’s horrible what the Democrats have done. It is a con game. They really are con artists. They don’t believe it themselves. They know he’s a high-quality person. They don’t believe it. It is just resist and obstruct. They are playing a con game and they are playing it very well, much better than Republicans.”
In case anyone missed the point, Trump spelled it out, “C-O-N.” Who says his Ivy League degree went to waste?
On Ramirez, he said the fact that she was “inebriated” and “all messed up” might disqualify her. Or as Trump, in his typical presidential style, said about her accusation against Kavanaugh, “Gee, let’s not make him a Supreme Court judge.”
It’s justice, of course, not judge. And so we’re left to wonder just how much justice we’re going to see.
Dear NeverTrumpers: Either help or STFU
Before I offer up a come-to-Jesus moment for the NeverTrumpers, let me say that as many of you know, I’ve defended members of this exiled faction in the past, and continue to stand by the idea that we need to form a coalition to close the loopholes exposed by Donald Trump’s malfeasance as a means of preventing another, perhaps more dangerous monster from sashaying through the Trump-shaped hole in the wall. To be clear: I’m not talking about conceding on policy or platform planks. I’m merely suggesting a detente between voices who all agree that Trump is a menace and his presidency is an existential national crisis.
Last chance for impeachment: Next week Robert Mueller will shape history — but how?
When Robert Mueller comes to Congress next week to field questions — "answer" is too optimistic — about what he learned in his investigation of Russia and Donald Trump, it’ll be his and our last chance to get it right; to inform the American people of the enormity of Trump’s offenses and our sacred duty to impeach him. If he doesn’t want to, or can’t be made to, we may all say, in unison with Mitch McConnell, “case closed” as all hope of impeachment will have died.
It seemed as if our chance had passed; that due to the misfeasance of Robert Mueller and some Democrats, impeachment was all but dead. Trump’s latest racist tantrum — his noxious series of tweets directed at four progressive Democratic congresswomen — revived it simply by reminding Congress that he is morally unfit to be president of the United States. He is the greatest proved liar in the history of American public life. He runs the most corrupt administration in the history of the American presidency. He helped rig one election and now invites the rigging of another. He not only admits to being a serial sexual predator, but brags about it. But all that we knew.
Pelosi’s war on progressives risks another Trump victory
There are three reasons Trump won, and some of the leading Democrats don't seem to understand any of them
If Trump wins in 2020—and right now, he stands a good chance of doing it—you can thank Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the neoliberals in charge of the Democratic Party.
At the moment she and her allies are waging a war against progressives in order to hold onto a mythical centrist majority that doesn't exist. This threatens to repeat the mistakes of 2016, while ignoring the lessons of 2018.