The Garland Payback

Somebody I didn’t know kept retwitting his earlier twit that by the end of the weekend, there would be more. There would be another woman who claimed to be the victim of Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual misconduct. Ford may have come out of the woodwork late, whether 36 years or a few months according to whatever god you pray to, but belated accusations were about to be redefined.

As it turned out, there appeared to be two who exploded onto social media Sunday evening: Deborah Ramirez, as broken by a story by Ronan Farrow and Jane Meyer in the New Yorker and some mystery claim by Stormy lawyer Michael Avenatti that, despite being devoid of any factual allegations, he claims will be devastating. He’s available to be on television, if anyone’s interested.

Of course, Senator Feinstein is demanding the confirmation hearings, the deadline for which Senator Grassley kept extending over and over to show how fair he is, be put on hold and the FBI investigate, because what else would she do? And so this circus will go on in perpetuity.

The on-again, off-again talks — with an appointment to the nation’s highest court in the balance — have consumed official Washington, and thrown confirmation proceedings for Judge Kavanaugh, who has vigorously denied Dr. Blasey’s allegations, into turmoil. Until recently, Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation seemed all but assured; Dr. Blasey’s testimony has the potential to be a fatal blow.

Except the new allegations by Ramirez aren’t of the same level of seriousness as Ford, which themselves have fallen to the most marginal threshold of credibility when no person Ford alleged to be present would corroborate any part of her accusations.

The Times had interviewed several dozen people over the past week in an attempt to corroborate her story, and could find no one with firsthand knowledge. Ms. Ramirez herself contacted former Yale classmates asking if they recalled the incident and told some of them that she could not be certain Mr. Kavanaugh was the one who exposed himself.

The Ramirez allegations, stemming back to Kavanaugh’s freshman year at Yale, do not appear credible. In fact, they appear astoundingly incredible, and the New Yorker article astounding irresponsible for its publication. As for Avenatti, his association with whatever it is he might eventually have to proffer is tainted by Avenatti. Show ponies demand attention, but are still merely show ponies.

Rather than increase the likelihood of Kavanaugh’s withdrawal from confirmation, this new allegation may kill whatever lingering credibility exists in Ford’s claim, even though the two are separate issues. This refocuses attention on the fact that decades have elapsed without anyone having come forward to raise these putative terrible things and now, as the time has come for the Senate to make its decision, are dribbling out to disrupt the process, taint the nominee with unproven, unprovable and largely indefensible accusations, they are all being manipulated for disingenuous purposes.

The rhetoric is loud. The excuses endless. The arguments nonsensical, but passionate. None of it relates to Brett Kavanaugh’s career as a lawyer or judge, but only in the age of #MeToo could the irrational connections of emotional trauma and outrage serve to justify the outrage of those who live to be outraged. In an earlier time, the notion of resurrecting high school and college allegations would have been considered ridiculous.

And it’s all a lie. Opponents to Kavanaugh oppose Kavanaugh, and will believe whatever serves their end of killing his nomination.

The impact this will have on the future of nominations is of no concern. But then, Merrick Garland comes to mind. There is no honest person who believes the Republican rationalizations for refusing to give Garland a hearing. What they did to Garland was disgraceful and inexcusable, but they managed to pull it off and find enough blithering idiots to believe it wasn’t completely wrong. It was completely wrong.

This wasn’t supposed to happen to Kavanaugh. The Republicans still had the majority, and there was nothing the Dems could do to stop the freight train. To their credit, they found a way in Christine Blasey Ford, which worked only with the acquiescence of Two-Buck Chuck.

Is this Garland payback?* Has the once-lauded comity of the Senate broken beyond repair? Even if there is no direct connection between the two, are we now at the stage of government where any lie will do, exploitation of the fundamental ignorance of the unduly passionate to game the other team is the only game left?

I don’t want Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, but then there’s no one Trump will nominate who I would want on the Court. But what I don’t want more is to watch a nation devolve into idiocracy, paralysis, fundamental dishonesty. The hyper-partisans of both sides regurgitate their special brand of platitudinous nonsense, which is both tedious and infantile. Each believes that if they just scream louder, just call more names, they will win.

No one will win, and we will all assuredly lose when we have enabled the ruination of government in the name of the teams’ respective fantasies. They say payback is a bitch, and that’s no doubt true, but was the outcome you wanted to ruin America for everyone? There will be losers. There will be no winners. Was that the point?

Is there any pulling back now? Can anyone tell the truth, tone down the outrage, admit that we need to put aside how right our team is and how wrong the other team is that we need to fight to the death over everything? Can we ever stop believing and start thinking again, or is the experiment over?

The answer, if there is one, is that the grown ups must shut down the children and their sad, irrational tears. Call out the lies, no matter which sides spews them. Restore respect for the process that’s maintained a nation’s existence, not because they’re perfect but because their absence has proven to be far worse. But are there enough grown ups left to make this happen? Do they have the guts to put their foot down and say enough? Certainly not in Washington. Maybe nowhere.

*Don’t bring up Bork. Just don’t.

28 thoughts on “The Garland Payback

  1. Joe

    I shouldn’t be surprised that people are eating up the NYer story, but I am. If you were to replace the biographical details of that story with Pres. Obama’s, the story would rightly be dismissed as disgusting race-tinged insinuation. This will not end well.

    Reply
    1. SHG Post author

      Both sides “arguments” are obvious and simplistic. They believe what they want to believe because they want to believe it, not that it changes anything.

      Here’s the question: is there a mass of people in the middle who, regardless of political posture, are disgusted by the idiots dictating the agenda? If so, they need to become the critical mass that smacks the children hard and brings this era of idiocratic indulgence to an end.

      Reply
  2. Alex

    Last time I checked, Merrick Garland was still a highly respected jurist presiding over the most important federal circuit appeals court in the United States. If the Kavanaugh treatment represents just political “payback,” then the Republicans are are owed a big one.

    Reply
    1. B. McLeod

      Indeed. Republicans stymied the Garland nomination in an open exercise of bare political obstructionism. They didn’t pretend that there was something fundamentally flawed with the nominee. They didn’t solicit a bunch of unverifiable sewage to sling at him, in order to assassinate his character. The sliming of Kavanaugh is a dive into the gutter, and signifies a cheapening of the already shameless politics du jour in our increasingly dysfunctional legislature.

      Reply
        1. B. McLeod

          I don’t consider any of these jackals “my team.” However, I do see a qualitative difference here between simply blocking a hearing as opposed to sliming the nominee with unverifiable accusations of sexual misconduct.

          Reply
  3. Sol Wisenberg

    I fear there are not enough grown ups left in the room and that no Vital Center holds our political culture together. Perhaps people like you are only speaking now to some future Remnant.

    Reply
  4. Jack

    One small thing I have to look forward to as I get older is just how much further this has the potential to go off the rails. I went to college around the time the moving “Waiting” came out, which has a running prank of displaying ones’ genitals in elaborate fashion to unsuspecting onlookers, albeit with some artistic expression. To 18-22 year old college kids (both male and female), this was absolutely hilarious at the time. I, along with a huge portion of people in my generation, have seen a lifetimes worth of the ol’ cock n’ balls and lady bits – with many of these displays even being caught on the newly popular cell phone camera.

    Many of these young men and women have gone on to begin successful careers as doctors, lawyers, and start businesses – many of whom have a possible bright future in politics. I’ll need to get my TV suit ready, since in about 20 years the treasure trove of general debauchery my “marked as private” Facebook photos could be some distinguished man or woman’s worst nightmare.

    Reply
    1. SHG Post author

      Different norms had their moments at various times over the last 50 years, and ranged from ordinary to hilarious then, but range from offensive to rapey now. Times change, but kids never quite appreciate that they didn’t invent the world the moment they became woke.

      Reply
  5. Anonymous Coward

    Right now Dianne Feinstein is greatest enemy of our system of government, as she tries to “win” the game by wrecking it, Our only salvation lies in the Republican leadership growing a spine, giving Ford a take it leave it option of testify under oath and on penalty of perjury with no special conditions, and then censure DiFi for violating the process and not producing the letter and witness when confirmation started. If this isn’t stopped, every Supreme Court nominee will be subjected to vague surprise attacks by the other side and nobody gets confirmed

    Reply
    1. Fubar

      Anonymous Coward says September 24, 2018 at 11:39 am:

      Right now Dianne Feinstein is greatest enemy of our system of government, as she tries to “win” the game by wrecking it, …

      I hope this is not too much an off-topic dive down the Feinstein rabbit hole. But I’ll take the chance this once.

      Dianne Feinstein has a long history of releasing information which she believes will serve her political ambitions, with no regard for the innocents whose lives she harms by doing so.

      In late summer 1985, serial killer Richard Ramirez (aka “the Night Stalker”) came to the San Francisco area after a spree of rape and murder in southern California. In the SF area he murdered a 66 year old man, Peter Pan, then raped and shot Peter’s wife Barbara and left her for dead.

      Dianne Feinstein was mayor of San Francisco. She became privy to information that the ballistic and shoe print evidence from the Pan crime scene matched that of the southern California “Night Stalker” rapes and murders. She called a televised press conference and released that information.

      Ramirez, who followed media accounts of his exploits, then tossed his shoes off the Golden Gate Bridge and went back to southern California to continue his spree.

      Needless to say, detectives working the Night Stalker case were not amused by Feinstein’s publicity stunt.

      Ramirez shot another man and raped his fiancée in southern California before he was captured.

      Their blood is on Dianne Feinstein’s hands.

      Reply
  6. Joseph Masters

    Is this missing the bigger picture? The evidence seems to indicate the genie was let out of the bottle decades ago.
    Did Chuck “Two-Buck” Grassley really acquiesce, or did he have no choice?

    The Judiciary Committee is controlled 11-10 in favor of the Republicans, correct? One R vote against Kavanaugh forecloses his nomination. Even if McConnell were to bring up Kavanaugh for a full vote regardless, just two R votes against sink his nomination. Is this outcome a realistic possibility? Well, consider the outcome of the special election for Jeff Sessions’ former seat. Does Roy Moore’s defeat weigh on the minds of current senators, less than two months before a general election?

    The Republicans being on thin ice mathematically is worsened by the full elimination of the judicial filibuster and ending the blue slip process since January 2017; but that evolution was inevitable after the Garland episode, wasn’t it? How could Grassley and McConnell secure 60 votes for any SCOTUS nominee or blue slips from Democratic senators in that aftermath?

    Was all of this the fault of children, or adults acting in a deliberate albeit craven and underhanded way? It would seem the ship sailed no later than the “nuclear-option” brouhaha of 2005 when it comes to the “new” power dynamics at play in the U.S. Senate. But the fact that Kennedy wasn’t Reagan’s first choice to replace Powell might also be a factor; though to be fair these sorts of issues played a role in the decision to draft and ratify the 17th ammendment.

    Guess the genie wasn’t ever trapped in a bottle in the first place…

    Reply
    1. SHG Post author

      Rhetorical questions aren’t quite the same as a sound argument, leading from your assertion to your conclusion. Remember that just because you subscribe to dubious assumptions doesn’t mean anyone else suffers the same mistake.

      Reply
  7. Joseph

    I had some thoughts about this (valued at a premium around here, I’m sure).

    1. Each side feels like they already tried the “they go low, we go high” strategy and got burned for it. Going high has now been equated to allowing yourself to be taken advantage of by the other team. The new normal is “they go low, we go lower.” Both sides seem to, for whatever, feel like they’ve been had, and have in response adopted a policy of full-blown resentment. “We tried the decent thing, and we were had. It will never happen again.”

    (A quote from George Wallace comes to mind, from when he was still endorsed by the NAACP: “Seymore, you know why I lost that governor’s race? … I was outn_____ed by John Patterson. And I’ll tell you here and now, I will never be outn_____ed again.”)

    2. Even statesmen who are disgusted won’t take a stand for “decency” because it immediately leads to accusations of weakness and electoral failure shortly thereafter. Sure, centrists on both sides will applaud the move, but that doesn’t matter electorally since most of the “decent people” won’t cross a party line in the name of decency because “too much is at stake.” You lose more voters from the rabid base than you gain from crossover voting, and in the end, politicians respond to electoral pressures.

    3. Since everyone thinks that the other side needs to extend the olive branch first, you end up in a situation where even people who don’t like the current state of affairs end up playing chicken with the Republic anyway.

    Reply

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