It was the smallest margin of confirmation percentagewise in American history. For that and many other reasons, those crushed by the ascent of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court should take heart.
It took a GOP-majority Senate Judiciary Committee, a GOP-majority Senate and a GOP president expending much bluster, belligerence and capital to push through an unpopular nominee to a 50–48 thumbs-up.
It also took a concerted effort from those entities with a unifying theme: anger. Anger, it seems, even the spurious and cynical kind, is a winning strategy for the GOP.
The dulcet tenor of satirist Roy Zimmerman captures it soothingly with “W.I.M.P.,” but what saved Kavanaugh was not a recitation of his legal bona fides — most of that reads like warm milk and a bedtime story for conservatives — or even the tried-and-true trotting out of character witnesses.
No, when conservatives saw that Kavanaugh’s nomination was in trouble — meaning when a rattled but resolute Christine Blasey Ford credibly laid out a nightmarish scenario from her youth where with “100 percent” certainty she said Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her — they went to Chapter 1 in their leader’s playbook. The brows furrowed, the fingers pointed, the demonization of Democrats came out of its enormous warehouse and the momentum turned.
Actually, it’s probably less than generous to say it’s Chapter 1. It’s the foreword, the beginning, middle, end and epilogue. And why not?
It boils down to what works. Anger from women, blacks and other clearly aggrieved parties somehow is a flightless bird in American society when Republicans are in charge. Anger in the hands of conservatives when their power is challenged becomes like a squadron of the fell beasts from Tolkien. Both Ford and Kavanaugh were completely certain of their claims. But, in the current environment, her sober, meek, lightly professorial account was absolutely no match for his rancor-steeped denials, his counterintuitive embrace of East Coast elitism and his laughably sheepish love of beer.
No one credible cast doubt on Ford’s reputation or story; literally dozens cast doubt on Kavanaugh’s memory and temperament. It just didn’t matter. He was upset. And the GOP says we must let the wishes of white, male, sitting judges in a snit hold sway.
But again, take heart. Anger has two ancient foes. They’re known as reason and patience.
Reason tells us that anger is an agent of change with a very short shelf life. And patience tells us to give reason time.
Those who can reason will see that a nation as diverse as our own cannot stand on a worldview as insular as that propagated by the current majority. Those for whom patience wins the day will see that persistent kindness toward those in need and a steadfast stand against injustice will gain, as Franklin Roosevelt said in his peroration of Dec. 8, 1941, “the inevitable triumph.”
I think 29 days will suffice. For now.
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