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After Kavanaugh’s Destruction, Who Is Safe?

David Brooks is back from book leave today, and he’s disgusted by the Kavanaugh debacle, which he calls “a complete national disgrace.”  [1] Excerpts:

What we saw in these hearings was the unvarnished tribalization of national life. At the heart of the hearings were two dueling narratives, one from Christine Blasey Ford and one from Brett Kavanaugh. These narratives were about what did or did not happen at a party 36 years ago. There was nothing particularly ideological about the narratives, nothing that touched on capitalism, immigration or any of the other great disputes of national life.


These hearings were also a devastating blow to intellectual humility. At the heart of this case is a mystery: What happened at that party 36 years ago? There is no corroborating evidence either way. So the crucial questions are: How do we sit with this uncertainty? How do we weigh the two contradictory testimonies? How do we measure these testimonies when all of cognitive science tells us that human beings are really bad at spotting falsehood? Should a person’s adult life be defined by something he did in high school?

Commentators and others may have acknowledged uncertainty on these questions for about 2.5 seconds, but then they took sides. If they couldn’t take sides based on the original evidence, they found new reasons to confirm their previous positions. Kavanaugh is too angry and dishonest. He drank beer and threw ice while in college. With tribal warfare all around, uncertainty is the one state you are not permitted to be in.

This is where I think the fault is entirely with the activist Left. Heaven knows the partisan Right is capable of same, and often guilty, but in the Kavanaugh case — as Brooks’s examples show — the recklessness was almost entirely on the part of the Left. In my own case, this is what made me come down hard for Kavanaugh (absent any credible discovery of serious sexual misconduct): that he was clearly being railroaded by liberal politicians and media, in a way that is frankly McCarthyite. Except this time, instead of Reds, we have White Male Conservatives. People like me, and my friends and family. The last two weeks have brought forth from the Left a concerted attempt not to get to the truth about what happened 36 years ago, and how to deliberate responsibly in the face of uncertainty, but rather to brutalize and destroy a man and all those of his despised cultural and ideological class.

Brooks writes, trying to be even-handed:

This past month we’ve seen thousands of people convinced that they know how Kavanaugh behaved because they know how “privileged” people behave. We’ve seen thousands of people lining up behind Kavanaugh because they know that there’s this vicious thing called “the Left,” which hates them.

But — and I ask this honestly — what other conclusion is there to be drawn when so much of the opposition to Kavanaugh has been stated in explicitly racist, sexist terms? The “privilege” that the Left uses to abominate Kavanaugh is, in their worldview, a function of his race and his sex. I don’t know Brett Kavanaugh and I had no interest in his nomination, but watching what progressive leaders in politics, law, and media have done to him, in terms of turning him into a demon and denying him the presumption of innocence, has been a constant drumbeat of: if they’ll do it to him, they’ll do it to you and your sons, because you are members of the hated class. 

If my sons or my daughter are ever the victim of sexual assault, or are ever accused of sexual assault, I want them, their alleged assailant, or their accuser, to have due process. This is one of the most precious aspects of our system of law. Human perception and memory is faulty, and under certain conditions, even innocent people will formally admit their guilt. (The Innocence Project has documented many false confessions. [2]) Our system is not perfect, but it’s the best we have, and we’re fools if we throw it away.

I can’t tell this story often enough: In my rural Southern town, back in the 1940s, a black man and a white woman were discovered in sexual congress. The woman accused him of rape. The sheriff and two deputies hunted the black man down through the woods, captured him, dragged him back to the jailhouse, and lynched him. Days later, the white accuser broke down under the weight of her conscience. She confessed that the black man had been her lover. She had accused him of rape to save her own reputation in that white supremacist culture.

There was never any chance that that black man would have had the opportunity to defend himself in court. There was never any chance that he would be considered innocent until proven guilty. Everybody (that is, all whites, who held all the power) knew that black men seethed with lust for white women. Everybody knew that no white woman could possibly find black men sexually desirable. In a case like this one, there’s no need for a fair trial; you believe the woman. If you don’t believe the woman, and exact swift and sure punishment for her assailant, then it will be open season for black men to rape white women. That was what the power-holders in that time and place believed.

When the woman finally told the truth, no one had to answer for that murder. She and her family quietly moved away from the town, and were never heard from again. Everything returned to normal. An innocent black man was killed by the sheriff and two deputies, solely on the word of a white woman who told a lie that confirmed all the white supremacist society’s own prejudices. But to have attempted to hold those white murderers accountable for their deed would have brought the entire cultural and legal system of white supremacy into question. It was thought better than an innocent man should die than that the entire system should be revealed as corrupt. Protecting the system was more important than justice.

The only reason I know about this is that back in the 1990s, one of the deputies who was there that night confessed to his son what he had done. The old man had carried the weight of his guilt for 50 years. The son was a friend of mine, and shared the confession with me because he was deeply disturbed by this knowledge. He had not thought his father capable of such a deed. It stunned me too. I knew that old man as a kindly pillar of the community. Which he was. But he was also a murderer, and he was a murderer because the ideology of his community told him that the black man could not possibly be innocent, and the white woman could not possibly be lying.

Brett Kavanaugh is not being lynched, of course. But his character is being assassinated, and his Supreme Court nomination may be destroyed on the basis of a 36-year-old accusation that cannot be reasonably established as true. And this is considered necessary by an activist Left that believes the ends justifies any means necessary to achieve them.

Take a look at the opening of this Slate column by Mark Joseph Stern: [3]

By all indications, Brett Kavanaugh is about to be confirmed to the Supreme Court, where he will become part of a five-justice conservative bloc that will swiftly roll back [4] decades [5] of progressive jurisprudence. His confirmation will be a major victory for the Republican Party and its leader, Donald Trump, who will soon succeed in entrenching GOP control over the court for at least a generation. But as soon as Kavanaugh takes the oath, he will plunge the Supreme Court into a legitimacy crisis that could weaken its power over the long term. This crisis will become particularly acute if Democrats retake Congress and the presidency but find their reforms stymied by a reactionary judiciary. The broad consensus over the court’s authority to interpret the Constitution will crumble. If that all comes to pass, Kavanaugh’s appointment may come to be seen as a Pyrrhic victory [6] not just for Trump but for the entire conservative movement.

The reader who sent me that adds:

Think about that. Until now there was “broad consensus over the court’s authority.” He said that. I didn’t. And this existed despite “decades of progressive jurisprudence.” So for decades, conservatives lost and lost and lost and lost, but still confirmed the legitimacy of the system. But as soon as those losses BEGIN to be rolled back, it’s time for a war on the judiciary.

This is who we are playing against here, Rod . Being professional and winsome and all the rest was a fool’s game.

Ermagerd! The court is ditching laws enacted by Congress!

Yeah. No sh*t. Tell it to gay marriage.

Conservative writer and broadcaster Erick Erickson was one of the original Never Trumpers. When he came out against Trump in 2016, he lost two-thirds of his income. He sacrificed for his principles. But events of the past two weeks have pushed him to declare that he will vote for Trump’s re-election in 2020. [7] Here’s why:

Frankly, Trump does not have the character or strong Christian faith I prefer in a President. But he is positively angelic compared to his political opponents and the press. Between Trump and his opposition, I would rather vote for him, despite his flaws, than his opponents who want a flawless progressive utopia. Trump is neither an ambassador for my values nor the articulate champion of my principles I would prefer. But he is a safe harbor in a progressive storm that seeks to both destroy my values and upend our constitutional republic.

Progressives believe Trump is an authoritarian tyranny barely constrained by the rule of law. With a straight face, these same progressives argue the accusations against Kavanaugh are proof of his guilt, he should not be presumed innocent, a lack of witnesses is confirmation he did what they claim, all women must be believed except the ones who defend Kavanaugh, and any dissent is just white male privilege. Progressives may claim President Trump is Caesar at the edge of the Rubicon, but they have embraced the bastard love child of Joseph Stalin and Franz Kafka and enlisted the American political press to smear, defame, and attack anyone who stands in their way.


There is much in this present political age about which I am uncertain. But there is one thing about which I am absolutely certain. President Trump is not my enemy and too many progressives view me as theirs.

A senior Facebook executive, its chief Washington lobbyist, has been close friends with Brett Kavanaugh for over 20 years. He was present at Kavanaugh’s hearing in a personal capacity, to show support by his presence for his old friend. He said not one word about the nomination, only sat with Kavanaugh’s friends and family in the audience. Now he is being excoriated from within Facebook for that, [8] and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has said publicly that it was a “mistake” for him to be there. I understand this morning that Kaplan may be fired over the incident.

Fired for holding an opinion different from the opinion of many employees. Fired for sitting behind his old friend in a Senate hearing. “Are you now, or have you ever been, a friend of Brett Kavanaugh?” Then let’s blacklist you, and make sure you can’t work.

Facebook is not a dinky-butt muffin shop in Portlandia. [9] It’s one of the most powerful global corporations. Today Facebook is having a town hall meeting where Mark Zuckerberg will address this issue. Watch what he does. If the Social Justice Warrior mob gets away with this at Facebook, it will set a terrible precedent.

Whatever happens, be aware: this is what woke progressives want for our country and its institutions. I hate the idea of tribalism too, but at what point does one have to fall in with the tribe, out of sheer self-protection? Brett Kavanaugh, from what I can tell, is a by-the-book pinstriped Washington Republican. If the liberal mob can turn him into History’s Greatest Monster on the basis of unsupported allegations from his teenage years, and on the basis of his race and gender, then who is safe?


174 Comments (Open | Close)

174 Comments To "After Kavanaugh’s Destruction, Who Is Safe?"

#1 Comment By Eric377 On October 7, 2018 @ 10:57 am

Consider the compromises that Brooks needs to accept merely to have his contributions published in the New York Times. I feel certain that had he written his commentary accurately and stated that the dispute was not between versions of what happened at a party a long time ago but that one person – with the by far the most consistent corroboration – says that it never happened, well soon enough he would be pushed out of the Times.

#2 Comment By Phil Salvarado On October 7, 2018 @ 12:08 pm

“At the heart of this case is a mystery: What happened at that party 36 years ago?”

Oh puleeease. Brooks is such a hack. No, that was certainly NOT the heart of this case.

When did we suddenly start caring about what a teenager did 36 years ago when reviewing the record of a current jurist? The accusations should have had absolutely no purchase upon the Senate’s deliberations nor should any such type of 11th hour maliciousness, the intent of which is clearly to blow up the process and scuttle thoughtful deliberation rather than ascertain any truth.

Spare us anymore such deep thinking.

#3 Comment By John Shea On October 7, 2018 @ 1:32 pm

Did anyone else notice the story about Kellyanne Conway telling us about the assault she had many years ago? As far as I know the media completely ignored it because it didn’t fit their (propaganda) line. The media is so redundant and boring these days, with few exceptions they act as the useful idiots for the Democratic Party. Of course the Democratic Party need to change its name to the Mob Rule Party now.

#4 Comment By rick allen On October 7, 2018 @ 2:23 pm

Looks like K got destroyed so badly he’ll be on the Supreme Court for the rest of his life.

Meanwhile Trump’s mobs are turning their “Lock her up!” chants to Dr. Ford.

In the course of this thing I found out that a close relative was similarly sexually assaulted. She told no one, not even her father–she assured me that her own father wouldn’t have believed her.

There is nothing “conservative” about cowing abused women into silence, nothing “Christian” about “boys will be boys.” Some women have spoken up. But a few have also told me that these events confirm their earlier decision to keep quiet.

#5 Comment By Mike DVirgilio On October 7, 2018 @ 2:28 pm

“This is where I think the fault is entirely with the activist Left. Heaven knows the partisan Right is capable of same, and often guilty . . .” Please, this type of moral equivalence of certain conservative commentators has to stop. The right NEVER does what the left does in the way the left does it, NEVER. The left is evil, and it will use the will to power to destroy it’s enemies given the power, justice and truth be damned. It’s either them or us. As Reagan said of the Soviet Union, we win, they lose.

#6 Comment By Mark On October 7, 2018 @ 2:54 pm

The Democrats are the party of a new fascism. The ‘Jewish Conspiracy’ has been replaced with ‘white privilege Conspiracy’. Hope and change.

#7 Comment By Rob G On October 7, 2018 @ 3:35 pm

“Even the good liberals and Democrats won’t be safe after a while, because eventually each party apparatchik runs the risk of coming under attack.
I saw a recent example of this. A nice liberal Democrat in my neighborhood used to blog about community matters. Included in his assessments were critiques of local politicians and activists.
Would you know, he got threatened by the activist and was sued.”

Yep, as I’ve said here many times, be careful what you libs and progs wish for. There’s always someone more liberal or progressive than you.

#8 Comment By JonF On October 7, 2018 @ 6:38 pm

Re: It’s either them or us. As Reagan said of the Soviet Union, we win, they lose.

Sigh. If that’s your attitude then you’ve lost. We all have.

#9 Comment By MM On October 7, 2018 @ 7:33 pm

rich: “There is nothing ‘conservative’ about cowing abused women into silence.”

Conversely, it’s evidently quite liberal and progressive to accuse a man of numerous serious crimes without evidence, or corroboration, or even basic facts regarding said crimes. And then say due process, presumption of innocence, and every other Enlightenment principle of jurisprudence didn’t apply.

Last time I checked, of the 5 separate accusations against Kavanaugh, 2 turned out to be false and 2 had no credibility at all.
Dr. Ford’s was the strongest, and as the FBI concluded, even that wasn’t substantiated by anyone she named as being at the party.

Very progressive of the left, to believe this rubbish uncritically…

#10 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 7, 2018 @ 8:42 pm

The right NEVER does what the left does in the way the left does it, NEVER.

Keep telling yourself that.

Did anyone else notice the story about Kellyanne Conway telling us about the assault she had many years ago? As far as I know the media completely ignored it because it didn’t fit their (propaganda) line.

Or because she only told it to give her own propaganda line some street cred. ‘I survived a sexual assault, and I support Kavanaugh…’ Its like lining up Ph.D’s to deny evolutionary biology, and doctors of divinity to praise Darwin.

It’s called reading comprehension not belief.

Keep telling yourself that.

As for classical liberalism in academia, it was honest and recognized when the norms and rules of law were being violated and when facts were being ignored or omitted from debate.

Tell that to the Luddites, the Communards, the Haymarket martyrs, and the active working class resistance to conscription for WWI.

The truth that life begins at conception has absolute biological evidence that cannot be denied by an honest person.

Keep telling yourself that.

How I wish the “right to be left alone, a sphere of privacy into which the police powers of the state may not intrude” was respected by the progressive left.

Me too. With the caveat that those are progressive liberals. Histrionic drama queens need to be told that they are not the emperor, but in any case, put some clothes on. They deserve full Cosimanian Orthodox treatment — and they will melt like the Wicked Witch of the West.

Trump was sent by God for this moment in time.

So was Nebuchadnezzar. And if Robert E. Lee hadn’t kicked George B. McClellan’s butt all over northern Virginia, there would have been no 13th, 14th or 15th amendment.

I can’t remember when the last time a Democratic nominee for the high court was accused of a serious crime absent any compelling evidence at the 11th hour and under cover of darkness…

Abe Fortas.

#11 Comment By paradoctor On October 7, 2018 @ 9:05 pm

There were two character witnesses against Brett Kavanaugh; Christine Blasey Ford, and Brett Kavanaugh. Ford showed dignity, restraint and honesty; Kavanaugh showed none of those qualities.

In addition, there are also easily provable perjury charges. He swore X to the Senate, emails proved he did not-X. Open and shut.

But they didn’t shut him down that way because proven perjury would get him disbarred, whereas credible but not quite proven assault charges would only disgrace him. So by DC standards, charging him with perjury would be hardball, but smearing him with sexual assault would be the gentlemanly, collegiate, approach. But the masses don’t see it that way.

The Senate R’s had plenty of cleaner reactionaries to appoint, but they doubled down on this one because their boss Trump is sympathetic to rich white misogynist jerks, and because he needs a judge in his pocket, the dirtier the better.

So now we have Justice Perjury on the Court. “Conservatism” is a misnomer.

#12 Comment By JonF On October 8, 2018 @ 7:26 am

Re: Looks like K got destroyed so badly he’ll be on the Supreme Court for the rest of his life.

Yep. Liberace laughed all the way to bank, Kavanaugh is laughing all the way to the Court.
Someday this business will be nothing but a Trivia Pursuit question.

#13 Comment By Rami On October 8, 2018 @ 7:59 am

More terrifying than the lynch mob was to hear a senator, potus aspiring politician say “it doesn’t matter if he is guilty or innocent he should not be confirmed”. Corey Booker said that. Basically saying just the fact that we have destroy his reputation should be reason enough to punish him. And discard him. We’ve made him toxic enough, just with innuendo. Never in my life I thought I would hear an American politician or either say say something so horrendous and unfair. Something that goes to the heart and soul of the US system of justice.
If we got to see 100k repetitions of a video of two civilians talking vulgarity in a garage, I’d like to see a clip of booker saying those words at least million time splashed on TV, on internet, on billboards, everywhere.
This guy should never get close to the White House. EVER!

#14 Comment By MM On October 8, 2018 @ 12:35 pm

Jenkins: “Abe Fortas.”

Thanks, that’s a new one for me. 50 years ago, huh? What was the serious crime comparable to Kavanaugh?

#15 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 8, 2018 @ 3:06 pm

Abe Fortas was accused of some financial improprieties. Glad to enlighten you with data you previously were unaware of.

#16 Comment By MM On October 8, 2018 @ 3:22 pm

paradoctor: “Whereas credible but not quite proven assault charges would only disgrace him.”

Bill Clinton, credibly accused of forcible rape, is still raising money for Democrats. Well done, there, guys…

Different question: If a woman accused you of something, no matter how flimsy the evidence turned out to be, should we presume you’re guilty?

And would you admit to your guilt, tearfully, proclaiming that all women should be believed no matter what?

#17 Comment By cka2nd On October 8, 2018 @ 4:47 pm

Rob G says: “Yep, as I’ve said here many times, be careful what you libs and progs wish for. There’s always someone more liberal or progressive than you.”

You conservatives, too. Rep. Jean Schmidt got voted out of her US House seat in the 2012 Ohio Republican primary because she actually shook Pres. Obama’s hand as he made his way to the front of the House for a State of the Union address. And Chris Christie took a lot of grief for hugging Obama in greeting when the Prez visited New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy. And I bet Bob Michel had some stories to tell about Newt Gingrich’s takeover of the House GOP caucus back in the early 90’s.

#18 Comment By MM On October 8, 2018 @ 6:44 pm

Jenkins: “Abe Fortas was accused of some financial improprieties.”

So, a guy already on the Supreme Court accused of some financial improprieties is equivalent to a guy nominated for the Supreme Court accused of a violent felony for which there is no statute of limitations at the 11th hour is equivalent in your book?

I dug this up on Abe, as well:

“The debate on Fortas’s nomination had lasted for less than a week, led by Republicans and conservative southern Democrats, or so-called Dixiecrats.”

“The 45 to 43 cloture vote to end the Fortas debate included 10 Republicans and 35 Democrats voting for cloture, and 24 Republicans and 19 Democrats voting against cloture. The 12 other senators, all Democrats, were absent.”

All right… that’s quite a contortion for you to perform, just to provide a 50-year old excuse for the Donkey Party. You’re one of the last people around here I’d consider a partisan hack, but now…

#19 Comment By MM On October 8, 2018 @ 7:33 pm

cka2nd: “You conservatives, too.”

Funny, but I don’t remember anybody accusing Obama of a serious felony right before a big primary or the general election…

We know from David Garrow’s authoritative biography on his early life, that he broke up with his long-term serious girlfriend, because she was half white, half Asian. According to her, he believed their marriage would not “play well” in Chicago Democratic politics. He’s also admitted to being a bit of a “thug” (his own word) who drank too much and did too many drugs in his youth.

Imagine if his old girlfriend had come forward and accused him of smacking her around, perhaps using sexist epithets towards her.

Would you guys have believed the woman, without question? Would Obama be presumed guilty in advance of any investigation?

Or would she have gotten the same treatment as Clinton accusers received, with the added kick that she’d be accused of racism herself for merely coming forward at the “right time”?

Riddle me that…

#20 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 8, 2018 @ 10:44 pm

MM, you know I have as little use for the GOP as for the Dems. Why would you expect me to suddenly put angel wings on either one?

Accusations against Fortas suddenly emerged when President Johnson nominated him for Chief Justice. It was a new round of confirmation hearings. Yes, the GOP was looking for dirt to prevent Johnson from nominating a new Chief Justice after Warren resigned. And in the end, the next president, Richard Nixon, got to appoint Warren Burger.

#21 Comment By MM On October 8, 2018 @ 11:39 pm

Jenkins: “Why would you expect me to suddenly put angel wings on either one?”

Of course not, but I see not equivalence with the meat-grinder Kavanaugh went through. False allegations of violent crimes. Due process being openly dismissed as unimportant. Senators being harrassed, threatened, chased out of restaurants. Go Fund Me pages set specifically to pressure Senators to vote one way or the other.

These things didn’t happen in 1968 with Fortas, nothing even close. It was a stretch to even suggest him as an example.

#22 Comment By Rob G On October 9, 2018 @ 7:34 am

“You conservatives, too.”

The difference is that those of us on the right who already know it are not the ideologues.

#23 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 9, 2018 @ 11:12 am

Speaking of due process, Rep. Gerald Ford asserted on the floor of the House that the criteria for impeachment are “anything we want it to be.”

Its true that senators were not being chased out of restaurants in 1968. Although in 1969 or so, during the Days of Rage, some Weather Underground people smashed restaurant windows while diners were inside. There were attempts to set fire to the home of the secretary of defense in light of his support for napalm bombing in Vietnam.

#24 Comment By cka2nd On October 9, 2018 @ 11:31 am

MM says: “Funny, but I don’t remember anybody accusing Obama of a serious felony right before a big primary or the general election…”

Well, being accused of not being eligible to be President of the United States while running for the office may not be a felony – do check on that for me, won’t you? – but it’s a pretty major accusation: “You’re about to have control over an arsenal that can wipe out all life on the planet, and you have no right to hold such power. Thoughts?”

MM says: “Would you guys have believed the woman, without question? Would Obama be presumed guilty in advance of any investigation? Or would she have gotten the same treatment as Clinton accusers received, with the added kick that she’d be accused of racism herself for merely coming forward at the ‘right time’? Riddle me that…”

In your unrelenting smugness, you seem to forget that the “you guys” that I belong to in these comment sections, the non-Democratic Party Left of Siarlys, Hector, JonF (if I may be so bold) and maybe a couple of others, did NOT believe Prof. Ford “without question,” or PRESUME that Judge Kavanaugh was guilty at any stage of the investigation. In addition, judging by OUR record, as opposed to the record of the Daily Kos-like Hillary Bots who have posted here, no, MY TEAM would not have accused Obama’s ex of racism for merely coming forward at any time.

After the primaries, with Senator McCain and Governor Palin in their sights, the Democratic Party establishment and its Second Wave Feminist partisans might very well have disbelieved Obama’s accuser in sleazy, opportunistic fashion. On the other hand, DURING THE PRIMARIES, I have no doubt that at least some of that establishment and some of those 70’s era feminists would have believed his accuser and presumed the Senator guilty since they had already all but accused pseudo-insurgent candidate Senator Obama of being a racist himself in his primary fight with the actual establishment candidate, Sec. of State Clinton, and done so with the enthusiastic participation of the Jeremiah Wright-obsessed mainstream media.

But as I noted and you neglected to take into account, I am not part of THAT team.