I hope you have energy for one more damn blog post about Brett Kavanaugh, who has now been confirmed to the Supreme Court. I don’t think herein you will discover any new or profound points, but perhaps. I deeply regret and apologize for my lack of editor.
Megan McArdle and Jonah Goldberg were right, of course, that there was no good outcome, at the end. Either the Left was going to be furious at having been balked and at having a woman’s accusations of sexual assault and attempted rape be disbelieved enough to not spike a nomination to the Supreme Court, or the Right was going to be furious at the nakedly political attempt to ambush a nominee at the eleventh hour with accusations of vile crimes that could neither be proven nor disproven, despite the Democratic Senator in question having had the accusatory letter for months without revealing it and despite the fact that even the people named by the accusers as having been there declined to back up the details or substance of the accusation.
I was and am on the side of confirming Kavanaugh. Naturally I’m glad how it turned out– in that one respect.
To Kavanaugh himself I am indifferent. If credible charges of any offense had been made back in the summer and he had backed out, or if Trump had withdrawn his nomination, and then Trump offered up someone else, I would have been fine with that. The way it happened, though, made the stakes rather different than merely the identity of the person warming the ninth seat. The pathetically obviously political quality of the timing of the release– to try to delay matters past the midterm elections next month– the hypocrisy of the Left (for example, in having covered up and apologized for Bill Clinton’s non-teenage mashing, or their apologetics for the crimes of black youths of a similar age to Kavanaugh in 1982, arguing that teenagers shouldn’t be held to as high a standard), and the Waterford clarity that this was about revenge for denying Merrick Garland a vote adds up to the unavoidable conclusion that rationality had nothing to do with the Left’s position. Which was more or less, to blither, fulminate and fling any shit that comes to hand, no matter how vile.
The Left’s position, when not purely partisan, is essentially one of emotion, and, depth of rage notwithstanding, it is still not acceptable to make nothing more than emotion a policy consideration. Emotion will, true, always play a role in human affairs. Voters need not hew to any standards but their own, and the fear of voter anger does affect politicians. But politicians must at least pretend to be rational. There has to be a real policy issue at stake which is argued to be more important than the other issue. For politicians, it cannot openly be “the depth of my side’s emotions must be more important than your reasons”, especially when that issue is something central, like due process or the Rule of Law. And, momentary fluctuations notwithstanding, it has in the end to be justifiable emotion. Emotion that one side has stirred up to a fury pitch out of a sense of identity does not qualify.
Voters on the Right got angry, too, of course, and that played a role. But the Right’s position is one of basic prudence and common sense: that if this is all that it takes to spike a nomination, we will all have consented to race to the bottom in terms of standards, and we’ll get a steady stream of accusations from the mentally unstable and cheap opportunists willing to lie. Even sincerity, which Kavanaugh’s first accuser displayed, is not enough. It might not be enough even with events only a year old, because the unreliability of memories and eyewitness testimony is well-known, but most certainly memories of events 36 years ago which no one else from that time and place supports, making an allegation that the rest of Kavanaugh’s life seems to belie, are not enough.
So the Left turns out to be who’s enraged, and will spin this into a political Just-So story, some new component of their identity narrative, along the lines of the confirmation by the Imperial Senate of a glib, fast-talking Grand Moff Tarkin making all the right sounds. But rage and storytelling and the rationalization of the imposition of end results are the Left’s normal modus operandi. How is this different? And in most respects other than taxes and the 2nd Amendment the Left has gotten most things they wanted for the past half-century. Honestly, I have no idea what they think they can rationalize to do in retribution, that they haven’t already or wouldn’t have done before. Spent options and burnt bridges make for poor leverage.