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Abramson writes: "The forced confirmation of a conservative nominee who will tip the court much further to the right has outraged large swaths of the country."

'The angry crowds massed outside the US supreme court and the Capitol after the vote reflected a national outrage that is building.' (photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)
'The angry crowds massed outside the US supreme court and the Capitol after the vote reflected a national outrage that is building.' (photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)

The Brett Kavanaugh Travesty Will Breed a Formidable Backlash

By Jill Abramson, Guardian UK

08 October 18

The forced confirmation of a conservative nominee who will tip the court much further to the right has outraged large swaths of the country

he stain will be indelible. Brett Kavanaugh’s tenure on the US supreme court will always be tainted by the highly partisan and morally bankrupt process that forced through his US Senate confirmation.

The outcome was never really in doubt. Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell were determined to win from the first mention of Dr Christine Blasey Ford’s name. Her serious allegations of sexual misconduct against Judge Kavanaugh, which had convincing corroboration, including a second woman accuser, Deborah Ramirez, were never fully considered. Dr Ford did get to testify, but the hearing was stacked against her before it started. It was designed to end in a he said/she said stalemate. The FBI investigation was a joke. Dr Ford was demeaned not only by President Trump, who mocked her at a Mississippi rally, but by the entire confirmation process.

Republicans paid lip service to the need to “listen and hear from her”, but outsourced her questioning to a female sex crimes prosecutor who predictably concluded that Dr Ford’s charges were unproven.

The hasty swearing-in of Justice Kavanaugh on Saturday was another heavy-handed partisan move destined to inflame the bitterness created by a corrupt confirmation process. The angry crowds massed outside the US supreme court and the Capitol after the vote, the closest ever for a successful supreme court nominee, reflected a national outrage that is building. President Trump and the Republicans may brag that the Kavanaugh fight has motivated the Republican base for the midterm elections, but that effect will be short-term and fleeting. The forced confirmation of a conservative nominee who will tip the court much further to the right has outraged large swaths of the country, not only in coastal urban areas but among suburban women in red states, too. The backlash will build, becoming an important political force for the 2020 presidential campaign.

There were many low moments in the past week. In the flush of victory, President Trump actually had the nerve to praise the FBI, an agency he has lambasted, for its whitewash of Judge Kavanaugh.

Susan Collins’ grandstanding speech before announcing her yes vote suggested that Dr Ford was herself grandstanding by choosing to testify publicly, rather than in private in California. Her vote for Kavanaugh was never really in doubt, anyway.

Jeff Flake’s elevator conversion was another piece of Kabuki theater. He was momentarily cowed by the gutsy women who confronted him, but he, too, was always inclined to support Kavanaugh. After calling, belatedly, for an FBI investigation, he did nothing to ensure that it was either thorough or fair.

The confirmation process reeked of hypocrisy from the start. After blocking Merrick Garland, a moderate who President Obama chose, the Republicans had the nerve to claim the Democrats were the partisan ones, orchestrating a last-minute hit job on their nominee. There is not a scintilla of evidence that Dr Ford had any partisan motive.

At first, President Trump seemed genuinely rattled by Dr Ford’s accusations and kept a careful distance from his nominee. White House lawyers, too, were worried after Dr Ford’s credible testimony, but Judge Kavanaugh’s emotional and outraged denial reassured them, as did overnight polling. Within hours the president was unshackled, making fun of Dr Ford’s memory lapses, which were actually a sign of her honesty.

The confirmation vote was the final triumph of Donald McGahn, the White House counsel whose singular mission has been getting rightwing judges confirmed. But his legacy will also be stained by the rank brutality of this confirmation process. Mr McGahn learned hardball, partisan politics when he represented the Koch brothers.

The Kavanaugh nomination should have been pulled right after his histrionic testimony, so filled with baseless claims of victimhood. His outrageous performance put on display a temperament completely at odds with anything remotely judicial. After wildly claiming the Democrats were seeking revenge on behalf of the Clintons, how can anyone seriously think he can fairly decide any political cases that come before the court? His palpable anger made a mockery of his own earlier speech insisting that judges should always be impartial umpires.

The performance was so embarrassing and worrisome to some conservatives that Judge Kavanaugh had to admit error on the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal.

Once again, Washington has proven to be an indecent place.

There were few silver linings, such as when thoughtful politicians, like Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, did decide to oppose Kavanaugh. The real moment for reconsideration should have come when former Justice John Paul Stevens, 98, in highly unusual remarks, said that Judge Kavanaugh’s openly expressed prejudices should disqualify him from serving on the court. It was extraordinary for a former justice to speak out against a nominee for the supreme court, but Steven’s rebuke barely registered in the partisan din.

The Kavanaugh confirmation process was worse in some ways than Clarence Thomas’s and the bitter legacy will be similar. Then, as now, conservatives were motivated to support their embattled nominee. The political passions of the moment favored Thomas’s confirmation. But a year later, public opinion had sharply turned and it was the fury of women that was felt at the ballot box in 1992.

It is beyond sad that the United States now has two justices sitting under the cloud of perjury and sexual misconduct. While the supreme court was once seen as standing above politics, it, too, is now justifiably seen as partisan. How can it not, when President Trump picks his nominees from pre-approved lists blessed by the conservative Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation?

It should not really surprise anyone that Washington proved to be immune to the #MeToo movement or that the White House and Senate so callously dismissed Dr Ford. Republicans play to win by exerting brute power. They have a new hero in Brett Kavanaugh.

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-47 # wantrealdemocracy 2018-10-08 09:42
Wait for the election We will have many fewer Democrats in office and maybe we can take care of our people instead of killing Muslims.
+19 # librarian1984 2018-10-08 12:55
Progressives want that too, and there is no shortage of war profiteers among Republicans.

You need to define your enemies more accurately.
+20 # ericlipps 2018-10-08 13:50
Quoting wantrealdemocracy:
Wait for the election We will have many fewer Democrats in office and maybe we can take care of our people instead of killing Muslims.

Haven't you been paying attention? With many fewer Democrats in office (assuming that happens), we'll more likely step up the business of killing Muslims while doing less to take care of our own people.
-2 # dquandle 2018-10-08 15:03
Obama and Clinton, nominal "Democrats" ,did a splendid job killing Muslims, with Clinton alone accounting for upwards of a million and a half Muslim deaths, and then Obama/Hillary going to town with the Bush/Cheney mass murder program, in spades.
+4 # laborequalswealth 2018-10-10 08:53
Wonder why you are downvoted for telling the truth?

The biggest liability the Demo party has is the Clintons and their TPP-worshipping , war-mongering, Wall Street-asslicki ng followers.

I predict the GOP will maintain control of Congress. Why would that be so in the face of the utter corruptions and bald-faced THEFT by these ruling GOP psychopaths? Because the Demo party presents NOTHING but "we're not Trump." NOTHING.

No campaign for Medicare for All. No urging that the bloated, grotesque, corrupt "defense" budget be cut. No plans for free universal education. Nothing Nothing Nothing Nothing Nothing.


Both parties are irredemably corrupt.
+3 # lfeuille 2018-10-08 23:10
+43 # EternalTruth 2018-10-08 10:18
I hate being a pessimist. I hate to say that the “backlash” will be watered down by voter repression and election tampering, and then will lose its momentum when the Democratic Party fails to work for the people, citing pragmatism. It saddens me to say that I believe things only change after a lot of bloodshed. And by the time that happens, the damage to our planet will be too much to recover from.
Being aware that pessimism breeds self-fulfilling prophecy, I will do my best to act as though I believe I (we) can make a difference and that change is coming. I will vote, pretending that the vote is counted. I will sign petitions, pretending that they will be read and considered. I will march til I can’t stand, pretending that someone gives a fuck. Maybe if enough of us keep pretending, we can actually accomplish something.
+32 # draak 2018-10-08 11:00
"female sex crimes prosecutor who predictably concluded that Dr Ford’s charges were unproven."

Well of course: the whole point of the charade was to avoid anything concrete, unless it would be damaging to Dr. Ford.
-33 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-10-08 11:52
"Her serious allegations of sexual misconduct against Judge Kavanaugh, which had convincing corroboration, including a second woman accuser, Deborah Ramirez, "

The problem is that Ford's allegations were simply not serious. She named 4 people at the party and all four said they were not there and never heard of anything like Ford was claiming. She mentioned that there was a 4th male there, but at one point could not remember his name and another points refused to name him. We know who he was. He was Chris Garrett, her boyfriend whom she was with at the country club on that day.

We don't know if the FBI interviewed Garrett, but it is likely his story would refute Ford's once and for all. The party may have been at his house since he lives close to the country club.

I think it is important to believe women and victims, but after that and especially when charges of a criminal act are made against some person, there must be proof. There isn't any proof in this case. I don't have any idea of Ford's motivation but the media's motivations were clear. They wanted another cataclysmic to push up their sagging ratings.

I agree with Abramson that the stain will be permanent. This is the doing of the mass media which in its hysteria is bent on destroying everything.
+22 # EternalTruth 2018-10-08 14:31
If what you say is true, then why the cover-up? It makes no sense. There are plenty of very logical explanations for why people woul not remember or not want to talk about what they remember from such an event so long ago. There is only one logical explanation for why Kavanaugh and the republicans did everything in their power to thwart investigation into the various charges against him. I don’t see how anyone with a modicum of intelligence or empathy could watch the testimony of Ford and Kavanaugh and come to the conclusion that Kavanaugh isn’t guilty. This makes me think you are being disingenuous on this issue fir some reason.
+8 # lfeuille 2018-10-08 23:13
He doesn't care if he's guilty or not. Supporting Trump is more important to him.
-5 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-10-09 20:17
ET -- "I don’t see how anyone with a modicum of intelligence or empathy could watch the testimony of Ford and Kavanaugh and come to the conclusion that Kavanaugh isn’t guilty. "

For sure Kavanaugh's performance was about as bad as it could get. But Blasy-Ford's was not a lot better. She just did not have much. Rachel Mitchell caught her is several misstatements or falsehoods. And why was she protecting the name of her boyfriend? It just wasn't a good story. Rachel Mitchell concluded that there was not enough substance in her story to go any farther. I understand she was paid by republicans but she has a lot of experience in this sort of case.

Ford's story is good for #MeToo organizing or mobilizing people against the aggressions of powerful men. It was also good for her therapy. But she crossed a line when she accused a specific person. Crossing that line meant the rules of law come into play. Kavanaugh was presumed innocent until a crime could be proved. There simply was no proof for anything, not even that the party ever took place.

The major media don't have any standards of evidence or proof. Neither does political organizing. Ford should have kept her story on this level and she could have done a lot of good for people and the culture in general.
+37 # Blackjack 2018-10-08 13:15
RR, you know this, but of course, will deny knowing it. There was NO concrete proof because Repukes would not allow for it. And isn't it strange how all these macho men were the ones who showed public histrionics. It wasn't the strong, resolute females who went off the rails. It was the self-indulged, self-righteous, "entitled" frat boys and good old boys who couldn't take the heat. And what happened is what almost always happens. They used their entitled rich white men power to sabotage the truth telling. It will be up to the women to do what they do in childbirth--bre athe and PUSH--to turn things around. And, RR, it WILL happen!
-11 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-10-08 18:57
BJ -- I think Ford got to tell her story pretty much as she wanted to tell it. It came out before the hearing. Her problem was that she named 4 potential witnesses (2 were the actual perpetrators) and they all said they did not attend the party. So she was left with nothing other than her story.

I recently saw that the FBI did interview her boyfriend at the time, Chris Garrett. What he said has not leaked out (as far as I know), but he must have said pretty much what they others said -- no knowledge of the party.

Had the FBI really investigated Ford deeply, I think they would have discovered that this story was the result of a fabricated memory in her therapy sessions. Possibly hypnosis was involved. In 2008, Ford was a co-author on an article on fabricating memories of trauma as a say to give patients a rationale for the PTSD symptoms that were troubling them. I think the FBI would have discovered this scenario. Ford also never released the notes from her psychotherapist , as she once claimed she would do. Probably those notes would have given it away.

I think Ford is much better off with the quick and superficial FBI investigation. She really does not want them digging into her life. She cleansed all of her internet traces back in August. Her high school yearbooks were deleted from Holton Arms. So it is better that people don't look into this any more.

I agree with your points about entitled white rich power. It runs Washington.
+2 # DongiC 2018-10-10 10:03
RodRas, "...fabricated memory in her therapy Sessions." There you go again, assuming an expert knowledge in the area of clinical psychotherapy. Where did you get your various medical degrees? What is the basis upon which you draw these conclusions? Maybe, from the same source that allowed you to make assumptions re the alleged testimony of Chris Garrett before the FBI if that interview did in fact take place. Your source, please. Also, the source for your claim that Dr. Ford promised to release the notes from her psychotherapist . Your comment is a tissue of assumptions from the deletions of her high school yearbooks at Holton Arms to your claim that Dr. Ford does not want the FBI "digging into her life."

You have done a real hatchet job on the character and testimony of Dr. Ford. Your employers whoever they are should be very pleased. No wonder you lead this site in red marks.
-2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-10-10 21:20
Dong -- one does not have to be a PhD psychologist in order to understand a lot about therapy, psychology, and all the rest. There's such a thing as "lay psychotherapy." This came up in the 1920s, when Erik Erikson a painter by profession, began to work with Freud in Vienna as a psychoanalyst. Many objected because he had no MD. But many also accepted him. Erikson went on to write some very good psychoanalytic studies.

Back in the 90s, I regularly taught a class called "Memory, Dreams, and Imagination." The class was modeled on Carl Jung's book Memories, Dreams, and Reflections. The class was team taught by me, a visual artist whose work was dream inspired, and a psychologist who went on to become a world renowned expert in hypnotherapy.

In the first few minutes of hearing Ford's story, I recognized clues that told me it was a fabricated or recovered memory produced in therapy.

I'm sorry, but I have not done a hatchet job on Ford. I understand her situation. It is just a mistake for everyone to allow a common technique of PTSD therapy to morph into a criminal investigation on national TV. I can't believe her lawyers allowed this to go on.

I know Google sucks now, but probably you can find all the sources you need by using google.
0 # DongiC 2018-10-11 16:29
Rod Ras you are no Eric Erikson, that's for sure. And your clues are like your sources, non existant. You are not Carl Jung either and why didn't you name your psychologist friend of world fame, afraid that we would check? If we had a true criminal investigation into Kavanaugh's past I think he would be preparing for his impeachment from his job on the appellate court and not for his spot on the Supreme Court. In a word, Rod Ras you are pathetic.
-2 # dquandle 2018-10-08 15:00
"... the fury of women that was felt at the ballot box in 1992."

The fury of the women who went on to elect a rapist, serial sexual predator, and soon to be mass murderer, as president twice in a row.

Some fury.
+1 # grendel 2018-10-08 16:12

They will never know
what the rivuleted tear of a sob
is, they do not dream,
abstraction is their stanched
metaphysic of polished calculation.

Since childhood, those who have had a soul
known there is no hope
to reach where their heart should be,
dried up and flaked long ago
under the scar tissue of their venality.

+4 # librarian1984 2018-10-09 09:54
If there's a backlash it's not ALL against the GOP. Yes they were, of course, abominable Neanderthals, but Democrats messed up too.

The questioning of Ford and Kavanaugh BY DEMOCRATS was largely ineffective. Booker and Harris cared more about posing for 2020 than getting the truth, and why didn't anyone ask Kavanaugh about his opening statement, especially 'What goes around comes around'?

And when he kept saying he welcomed an investigation, why didn't anyone say, 'OK, thank you, I take that as a call for an FBI investigation, which has now been requested by Judge K', then he'd have to say 'No, that's not what I meant', making him say aloud he didn't want one.

Again the Ds were ineffective because at root they really don't care about much beyond their Senate office door. If the hearing were about their pay I bet they'd have been more engaged. A few did well, but many did not.

And geez, Feinstein is doddering. Should she really get another six years? Dinosaur DINOs need to make way for the next generation. This cohort has sold us down the river long enough.

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