Women who are sexual-abuse survivors woke up to the news on Sunday that Brett Kavanaugh had been confirmed to a seat on the Supreme Court — a signal after the excruciating testimony of Christine Blasey Ford that sexual abuse doesn’t matter and powerful men can get away with it.
Democratic lawmakers naturally are looking to extract a political victory out of their defeat on the nomination fight.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), a likely presidential contender in 2020, electrified Iowa Democrats during an Oct. 5 appearance, urging, “It is not a time to give up, it’s a time to get up, to rise up, to speak up. It’s time for you not to wait for hope, but to be the hope.” In other words, vote.
President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who face uncertain prospects over whether Republicans will be able to retain control of both houses of Congress in November, see that they don’t have the luxury of celebrating the achievement of conservative control of the Supreme Court for the next generation. Instead, they must also position themselves as the wronged party — the victim in need of vindication.
“The tactics that have been employed both by Judiciary Committee Democratic senators and by the virtual mob that’s assaulted all of us in the course of this process has turned our base on fire,” McConnell said at a Capitol Hill press conference on Sunday. To be clear, while protesters disrupted the confirmation vote and tearfully confronted lawmakers in hallways and elevators with stories about their personal experiences of sexual assault, no lawmaker has been assaulted.
Speaking at a press conference in Kentucky the following day, McConnell pressed the point (and the lie).
“We were literally under assault,” he said. “These demonstrators, I’m sure some of them are well-meaning citizens, but many of them are obviously trained to get in our faces, to go to our homes up there to almost attack us in the halls of the Capitol. So there was a full-scale effort to intimidate us as well. What I think this has done for us is provide the kind of adrenaline shot that we had not been able to figure out how to achieve in any other way. We think there’s some evidence that this is gonna be very helpful to us next month.”
When the inevitable reaction to their scorched-earth politics and acquisition of power at all costs is outrage, the Republicans are now trying to make incivility an issue, burnishing their “law and order” brand by attacking Democrats for supposed “mob” behavior.
Interestingly, “mob rule” was the charge leveled by former North Carolina state Sen. Thom Goolsby at the antiracists protesters who tore down the “Silent Sam” statue in Chapel Hill on Aug. 20. Then, on the first day of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, way back on Sept. 4, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said, “This is the first confirmation hearing for a Supreme Court justice I’ve seen basically according to mob rule.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) took up the theme later, accusing Senate Democrats of having “encouraged mob rule.” Trump piled on during an Oct. 5 campaign stop in Topeka, Kan.
“You don’t hand matches to an arsonist,” he said, “and you don’t give power to an angry, left-wing mob. And that’s what they’ve become.”
With Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, the Republicans have essentially ceded #MeToo to the Democrats; it was already stacking up that way, after the election of a Republican president who bragged about grabbing women’s genitals and the nomination of Roy Moore — the Christian theocrat facing multiple allegations of sexual assault by girls — for Senate in Alabama, while Democrats forced the resignations of Al Franken from the Senate and John Conyers from the House. Naturally, Republican politicians must manufacture a countervailing movement to fuel their election machinery.
Cue the #HimToo movement.
“It’s a very scary time for young men in America when you can be guilty of something you may not be guilty of,” President Trump said on the White House lawn before Kavanaugh was even confirmed. “This is a very, very difficult time. What’s happening here has much more to do than even the appointment of a Supreme Court justice. It really does. You could be someone that’s perfect your entire life, and somebody could accuse you of something. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a woman. And you’re automatically guilty. But in this realm you are guilty until proven innocent. That’s one of the very, very bad things happening in our country.”