The Party of Sexual Predators
“To me the image of Kavanaugh pressing his hand on her mouth to stop her from screaming could stand for the GOP treatment of Ford all week.”
The main story this week has been the efforts of Dr Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when she was fifteen years old, to be given a fair chance to tell her story, while the Republicans have done everything they could think of to stop her from doing so.
Republicans were plainly trying to impose conditions that would cause Ford to give up and refuse to testify. They set unreasonable timeframes, refused to allow any evidence other than her testimony (even refusing to subpoena Mark Judge, Kavanaugh’s friend and alleged accomplice and witness to the event) and denigrated her efforts at every turn. They announced that they would confirm Kavanaugh anyway, no matter what she said. And they tried publicity stunts that blew up in their faces. Nevertheless, Blasey Ford persisted, and the hearing is scheduled for Thursday.
Ed Whelan, a prominent GOP lawyer and one of the select circle of those working to confirm Kavanaugh, worked with the PR firm CRC Public Relations to cook up a story that someone else had been the attacker, not Kavanaugh. He shopped it to reporters for several days, but none of them would publish it. So he fanned interest through the posts of colleagues, then released the story via Twitter, including naming the “real attacker”, who is now a middle school teacher. Dr Ford quickly debunked it, saying that she had known both boys and would never have confused the two. Whelan had opened himself up to libel charges (we certainly hope he’s sued) for his wholly unwarranted accusation. And it appeared that he had someone on the Kavanaugh team had in fact known about Dr Ford, since Whelan had been looking her up on LinkedIn before her identity had become publicly known. The chances that Kavanaugh wasn’t, at a minimum, aware of this charade as it was happening, are slight. That enough should disqualify him.
Whelan has “taken a leave of absence” from his job. Garrett Ventry, seconded from CRC to help Senator Grassley’s effort, was forced to resign because of his own history of sexual harassment. Yet the GOP continues to claim that the allegations against Kavanaugh aren’t that serious. These range from “nothing really happened because he didn’t actually rape her” to “it could have been someone else” and more.
They also continue to frame the issue as if it were a trial. It’s not. It’s a job interview. There have been anguished wails of “I’m not going to ruin his life over this” and “what about presumed innocent until proven guilty?” Nonsense. This isn’t a trial and the only “punishment” at hand is that he wouldn’t get the job. I’m not aware of any job where the qualification for being hired is, “We can’t prove that you committed a felony”. The evidence has to be fairly presented and checked for accuracy. If the GOP were interested in that, they wouldn’t be keeping the FBI from investigating. But at the end of it all, the question is: should this man be hired for the most powerful judicial position in the country, one where we won’t be able to fire him if we don’t like his performance later? It’s not like there aren’t other qualified candidates. To choose someone about whom you have even moderate reservations would be insane.
If Republicans have been reasonable at any point, it’s only because they are running scared, realizing that there may be some women who aren’t thrilled with a party of old white men in a mad rush to lock in their ability to regulate what women can do with their bodies by selecting a sexual predator as a judge. That it’s not holding them back much is, frankly, nauseating. They’re treating Dr Ford as a nuisance, albeit a serious one. If anyone thinks her story is just a nuisance, try reading some of the posts on Twitter with the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport. Bring a tissue and be prepared to get as angry as you’ve ever been in your life.
And now as I’ve been writing this, all hell has been breaking loose. Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow have written an article for the New Yorker in which a former Yale classmate of Kavanaugh’s, Deborah Ramirez, alleges that he exposed himself to her when they were freshmen. If you’ve been wondering why the Republicans were in such a rush to get Christine Ford behind them and hold a quick confirmation vote, now you know. They already knew that there was more to come. And, apparently, there is – even more. Michael Avenatti has this asked for an investigation into allegations, supported by witnesses he claims to have, that Kavanaugh and Judge, along with others “participated in the targeting of women with alchohol/drugs in order to allow a “train” of men to subsequently gang rape them”. By the time you read this, there will surely be more. But I’m not sure we need any more to conclude that the GOP is now the party of sexual predators and their protectors. Treat them accordingly in November.
In Other News
Trump decided to declassify security documents related to Russia, then later rescinded the order. It was yet another attempt to obstruct justice and undermine investigators who, significantly, have fought Russia and organized crime (essentially the same thing) for years. We know whose side Trump is on, and it’s not ours.
The administration is quietly moving $260M from cancer research, HIV/AIDS and other programs to cover the rising costs of their child detention policy. And, yes, there are still hundreds of children who have not been reunited with their parents.
The benefits from the Republican tax scam are still flowing only to the rich.
Six siblings of Rep. Paul Gozar, R-AZ, have come out strongly against him (for, among other things, destroying their family’s reputation) in ads for his opponent, David Brill. The ads are stunning. Brill’s still a long shot, but, geez.
We need everyone working to turn out the vote. Please, talk to friends and relations. Let them know that we need them, too, to work for candidates in swing districts. Use our calendar to find things you and others can do to get out the vote where it’s needed. Let’s win this!
– Tom Benthin
*indicates highly questionable legitimacy
A reminder: a key resource for tracking all the abnormal events from the past week of the Trump presidency is Amy Siskind’s Weekly List: theweeklylist.org .
Before the disaster of the 2016 election we could follow the events that affected our lives by checking the news or seeing occasional posts on Facebook. Since then, with Trump’s erratic, aggressive and autocratic behavior and the Republicans’ unceasing attacks on our government and their efforts to transfer ever more money from working Americans to the rich, it has become much more difficult – and more important – to find our way through the weekly onslaught of news. To get ourselves grounded in the facts and to prepare for the week of action ahead, we provide this weekly summary of critical events to help us cut through the distractions and stay focused and informed as we fight to preserve our democracy.