There are many reasons members of the U.S. Senate might object to the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Take, for instance, the decisions he handed down from the D.C. Court of Appeals, where he substantially affirmed the Patriot Act, the surveillance state, and a broad use of executive power.
Instead of discussing Kavanaugh’s controversial decisions, however, Americans are currently transfixed by salacious stories of alleged 35-year-old sexual assaults committed by the alcohol-addled teenage children of Washington’s elite. As legislators ponder whether to place a man in a permanent position of power, like salivating characters from Idiocracy, we remain entranced by the hazy memories of women who allege that Kavanaugh assaulted them.
Kavanaugh’s accusers not only did not report the assaults, some 35 years later, they are unsure of the dates, times, other people present, and even the locations where it happened. Kavanaugh categorically denies them. And now two other men have stepped forward to say they were the ones who assaulted accuser Christine Blasey-Ford in 1982, not Kavanaugh. That isn’t to say the women’s stories are untrue, but simply that so many decades after the fact and without corroborating witnesses, it is virtually impossible to disprove them.
Yet even before the facts were in, both the right and the left reached for well-worn storylines, seemingly eager to touch off a gender war. As a rumor that someone had accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct emerged, some swiftly seized hold of a “boys will be boys” defense for Kavanaugh. Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono, meanwhile, declared that half the human population—men—should “shut up.” Congresswoman Jackie Speier warned Republicans to “beware…the wrath of women scored. It will be your party’s downfall.” To some supporters of the #MeToo movement, casually destroying an innocent man’s life is an acceptable price to pay “in the process of undoing the patriarchy.”
The question of whether the women accusing Kavanaugh should be believed should turn on the credibility of the stories rather than on the gender of the accusers. The hyper-partisan handling of the allegations, starting with Senator Diane Feinstein’s decision to sit on Blasey-Ford’s accusation until the eleventh hour, helped the perception that Democrats would go to any length to torpedo Kavanaugh’s nomination. Citing the obviously advantageous timing, and the fact that Democrats conveniently never believed women when they were Bill Clinton’s accusers, many Republicans quickly called into question the veracity of Blasey-Ford’s and Deborah Ramirez’s accounts.
Almost 30 years since Anita Hill accused now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, it is clear that the victims of sexual assault are seen by the political parties as nothing more than a means to advance the left’s and right’s familiar narratives. Both the ready rape apologists and the myriad misandrists herald a scary new world, one where nearly 30 percent of Americans think Kavanaugh should be confirmed even if Blasey-Ford’s accusations of sexual assault are true.
One wonders how that is possible.
Supposedly, the purpose of the #MeToo movement was to give enhanced visibility and believability to victims of sexual assault. Yet the very opposite is achieved when political parties callously parade alleged victims before the kangaroo court of public opinion as nothing more than a prop to gain political advantage. Throwing reason, logic, and the presumption of innocence out the window can only cause cause a serious backlash against victims—not that the monkeys in the Senate circus care about that.
The partisan political score has gotten pretty off-kilter when CBS News takes to quoting a “moderate Republican living in the Boston suburbs” named Alice Shattuck, a mother of four:
…she’s disturbed by the allegations Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez have made against Judge Brett Kavanaugh and says that if there’s proof the alleged attacks happened, he’s disqualified for the Supreme Court. “I don’t care if he was a teenager or not.”
But ask her what she thinks of the way the Kavanaugh case has been handled: “The Democrats have been terrible. They’re acting like partisan hacks. They want to make him [Kavanaugh] answer first, and then have the accuser speak afterwards? It’s ridiculous.”
Politico even ran an article admitting that the late Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy’s “illustrious family—let’s be honest—includes men who have done as much damage to women as they have done good for the country, with offenses including serial infidelity, an affair with a babysitter and even deaths, including that of Mary Jo Kopechne, drowned when Kennedy drove a car off a bridge. Kennedy and his pal, Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, were notorious for alcohol-infused misbehavior that, by one account, included a game of ‘waitress toss,’ which is just what it sounds like.”
It’s a belated admission from the media that despite the Democratic decision to embrace the mantle of #MeToo in this particular nomination process, they are not a party that has consistently defended—or believed—women. The reason for that is, of course, partisanship.
Regardless of what happens with Kavanaugh, this massive circus has contributed to the revictimization of victims everywhere. And because the partisanship has become so rank, that’s made victims less likely to be trusted rather than more.
Barbara Boland is the former weekend editor of the Washington Examiner. Her work has been featured on Fox News, the Drudge Report, HotAir.com, RealClearDefense, RealClearPolitics, and elsewhere. She’s the author of Patton Uncovered, a book about General Patton in World War II. Follow her on Twitter @BBatDC.