Taking a pause. I want to get off this merry go round.
From this Sunday’s Collection, my last for a while.
My heart is heavy. I’ve been watching the Kavanaugh debacle unfold, as stunned at the early dismissal of allegations before any investigation as at some watchers’ inability to understand why Kavanaugh might have been so angry. I don’t know, maybe you’d be upset about being accused of leading a gang rape you didn’t commit. A correspondent of mine, one of many who asks to remain anon because she has a family that she wishes to protect from the public expression of her opinion, stated it well right before the hearing:
The intersectional, anti “breeder”, groupthink promulgating, men-hating, motherhood abjuring, frenzied factions leave me with a deep revulsion: no room for grace, for humanity, for dignity, for presumption of innocence (and I do not have any a priori beliefs about the original Kavanaugh claims), for general decency, of anything resembling finer human feelings — but also for those who refused to treat the initial accusations against Kavanaugh with any semblance of probity, the women-hating, misogyny-spewing man-boys — I want to get off this merry-go-round. … I kept away from the hearings and Twitter until tonight. I should have stuck with medieval manuscripts and puppy photos.
I too tried to keep away from the social media inferno. Among other things, I picked up my young teenage son from school. He was agitated. Some girl, whom he does not know and does not go to school with, sent him a random message to stay away from some other girl, who he also does not know. He had no idea what prompted the message. I freaked out a bit, pushing him to find some nugget of something that could have prompted her message. All we sorted was two mutual friends, both on the other side of town. He just blocked the account and went on his way, which is standard operating procedure among teens these days. He was more freaked out by the fact that I was freaked out, pushing him to find out exactly how his name came up.
Moms of sons can tell you, this sort of thing happens all the time. Not just to boys mind. My daughter went through a round of teenager-text “she 1 said, she 2 said” last week. But even while that concerned a weightier topic, I don’t see Kavanaugh style public tribunals 30 years in the girls’ future. The boys, however, they will have to prove alibis for events they can’t even pinpoint now. For all I know there is some long group chat of girls being saved today that describes something damming about my son to be used as evidence decades from now. Any mistaken identity or mere rumor mongering among teens will be impossible to rebut then. Such is my present fear.
Still, when the first allegations against Kavanaugh surfaced, I was not prepared to immediately dismiss them. The sort of thing Prof. Ford describes happens, and certainly happened back in the 80’s. These were serious allegations and they deserved a hearing. And so, we had a hearing.
From that hearing, we learned that her story changed. Debra Saunders has a summary, including the fact nugget that her named witnesses don’t even recall the party happening, which sounds an awful lot like the Rolling Stone story. I did too much research on that mess to not have it color my perspective now. That was one of the laments when the Rolling Stone story fell apart, actually. It would hurt the credibility of future assault stories. So it has.
We also learned that the hearing was delayed to maximize political damage and to stall a Supreme Court appointment until after the midterms. Heck, the leak of the allegations were timed to do that. These are not the kind of facts that boost credibility, but then this hearing wasn’t about truth, it was about political strategy.
Abagail Shrier saw it coming before the hearing. Kay Hymowitz observed that neither poignant angst nor righteous rage provide evidence of truth. For the TL;DR* summary of her observation, Liz Wheeler tweeted something that fits. (*Too long; didn’t read.)
Best case scenario: Democrats used a wounded woman for political ends. They needed an explosive charge, late enough in the game so Republicans wouldn’t have time to vet another nominee before the midterms. How they got it didn’t matter.
Again, I have too much experience watching the left do anything if they think the Roe v. Wade scheme is threatened to dismiss this scenario. Alexandra DeSanctis cataloged their vows from earlier in the summer. They were never going to vet Kavanaugh. They were gunning for him from the start. Events after the hearing confirmed such motives. Someone used US House servers to publish the private addresses and phone numbers of the Senate Judiciary Republicans on their Wikipedia pages. [Update: Maxine Waters is frantically denying that it was anyone on her staff. The source IP address suggests otherwise.] Doxing, the public sharing of private information, is low even by internet troll standards, and this was the one year anniversary of Rep.Steve Scalise’s return after being shot at a Republican baseball game when government types are — or should be — more aware of the dangers of public service. But Roe is at stake so the ends justify the means. Always.
In short, I was inclined to believe the allegations before the hearing, but not after. The most authentic things were Dr. Ford’s and Judge Kavanaugh’s emotions, but feelings aren’t facts.
The damage done to the nominee and the process was significant, just not enough to get Kavanaugh to withdraw. In fact — irony alert — it became imperative for him to remain, otherwise every Supreme Court nominee in the future will be defeated with late allegations. Lawyers get the power of precedent and this one could not stand.
So we have a terrible, un-winnable outcome: a damaged Justice and the final stake in the heart of trust, or anything like it, amongst political opponents. The FBI investigation is designed to help what Megan McArdle noted on Twitter, “I think the left half of the political spectrum really doesn’t understand the unquenchable rage on the right at having this sprung on them at the last minute. I’m not sure the right understands the unquenchable rage that would result on the left from confirming Kavanaugh.” Maybe it will help, but I have many, many doubts.
It’s all unquenchable rage. There is no end in sight.
Thursday night my husband posited that this is going to be one of those events in public life that inflects. I don’t think he’s out on a limb. I’m feeling it. I’m reevaluating. I started a publication like Iron Ladies because broader perspective can prevent the rage in the first place. I could make hard to find perspectives easier to find for those who were curious. That was my theory. Only I can’t find the curious. Oh, I have found a few, but they don’t want to publicly admit their curiosity. It’s too fraught with social peril.
Social media is a bust. I can hardly buy advertising on Facebook — literally. One of my writers wrote about art censorship. Her post used a detail of a classic painting. Facebook allows use of classic art even if it has nudity (this one had water nymphs) and other publications had used the same picture. But we couldn’t. “Ad not approved.”
I’ve been on Medium for a couple of years. I can get top writer designation for any tag I write more than a few pieces on in a month; something about their algorithm likes my stuff. Only that does not translate to increased reads anymore — and that was before they brought in big publishers who are smothering the independent writers. My old blog got more engagement on a slow day than Medium now gets for the indy writers. The slowdown pattern holds for the magazine’s writers, too.
All of this makes it hard for me to find the curious. I spend hours reading and summarizing every week, basically helping a couple of conservatives find articles they might not otherwise find. That’s fine, but I can talk to those folks. The curious are…where?
About four years ago a friend called concerned about my weight and health. I needed to “stop writing those little blog posts” and exercise every day. At the time I was insulted because I was a Senior Contributor at The Federalist (this was before it went crazy, when it was aiming to be an Atlantic for the right) and those “little posts” were researched freelance articles which got thousands of hits and lots of follow up interest. But now? I am spending a whole lot of time writing, editing, and collecting for an audience I know is there but cannot find. And now I’ve admitted I did not unquestionably believe a woman’s public accusations. Again, I’ve too much experience with taking such inconceivable stances to hope I could gain readers outside the right now. I’m not usually a cynic, but that was before the Kavanaugh hearing.
All I see in political discourse is unquenchable rage.
While it rages on, I have a family that needs my attention and a city and a church in need of restoration. (We aren’t Catholic so I’m not talking about that, or anything approaching that magnitude. Still, the laity must rise to this challenge, which requires time and toil.) I’m sitting here at my computer. Finalizing The Collection for Sunday is on the schedule, but I’m wondering, why? Is this really my best use of time, burning hours to no effect when little local things I squeeze in have so much potential? No. It isn’t.
I’m bummed because I love this format. Tricia, my graphics gal, keeps improving it for me. But it’s not the best use of my time — at least not weekly.
Everyone who needs to find me knows how. I’m going to go figure out what I can actually accomplish. All I know is it is neither virtual nor national. I’m getting off that merry go round.