Ed Whelan is the President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, which sounds like another sinister D.C. conservative propaganda “think tank” because…(looks it up)...yup, because that’s exactly what it is. Ed himself has testified on behalf of his organization against such enormous threats to American life as the Defense of Marriage Act, Roe v. Wade, and, um, Elena Kagan. He sucks, and he definitely wants Kavanaugh to be on the Supreme Court.
But forget all that. Forget “president,” even, because Ed has a new title now: Stupidest man on Twitter.
Thursday afternoon, Ed logged on to defend Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh against charges that he sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford in high school. He’s not the first conservative to make the attempt, but most of the others have either gone with “she’s a liar,” or “eh, he was 17, get over it.”
Ed, though…Ed was not going to settle for something so simplistic. Ed was going to break out all his investigative tools and go full CSI: QAnon.
And you know what? What he came up with is pretty damn compelling…if you’re the kind of person who thinks Reddit did a good job finding the Boston Marathon bomber, or that American Vandal is a real documentary, or that capturing Richard Jewell was the crowning achievement of American law enforcement.
If you’re anyone else, you will think it is mind-numbingly stupid. Before we dive into the actual tweets, though, here’s the short version: Whelan uses “evidence” that doesn’t even rise to the level of circumstantial to invent an insane conspiracy theory, the crux of which is that someone who looks like Kavanaugh, but was not Kavanaugh himself, committed the crime.
Now, apparently this is becoming a thing on the lunatic right, because Kathleeen Parker also pulled this doppelganger nonsense in the Washington Post (who should be ashamed for running it, but that’s nothing new). All of which means there may be someone higher up feeding the story to friendly journalists and Twitter personalities.
Whatever the case, Whelan went farther than Parker by actually naming the alleged body double. The new scapegoat is Chris Garrett, a private citizen who also went to Kavanaugh’s high school and played football with him and was friends with Mark Judge.
This is the first really stupid part: By essentially accusing a private citizen of committing sexual assault on the flimsiest grounds, Whelan could be in a whole heap of trouble if he’s wrong. That’s libel, and it’s libel against someone who isn’t a public figure, which means that Garrett would have a really easy time suing the bejesus out of him. If Garrett were a public figure, he’d have to prove actual malice, which is a pretty high bar; because he’s a private figure, he only has to show negligence, and holy hell was Whelan negligent. (And no, the fact that Whelan threw in a late, half-hearted “I don’t know what really happened” disclaimer ain’t gonna save him.)
The second really stupid part is much simpler: If Garrett were guilty, don’t you think Judge, Kavanaugh, and the other two people at the party would know it? And if they knew it, don’t you think they’d shout it from the rooftops right away rather than drag it out and let the suspicion compromise Kavanaugh’s candidacy? There is no possible way Whelan’s theory could be true, or the main characters would have nipped this thing in the bud immediately.
Okay, enough preamble: Here are the tweets. And you better believe I screenshotted them, because as of 8:12 p.m. Thursday night, they’re still up, but I cannot imagine that state of affairs will last long.
(UPDATE: They’re deleted!)
This is some classic Twitter thread preamble right here. It hits the major emotional note I wrote about during the #Lodestar idiocy: “a breathless introduction about a small detail that just couldn’t help but catch his eye, inevitably leading to grand epiphanies and unleashing torrents of shocking truth.”
Whelan tries to presents himself as a sober, objective analyst, and even says “hey, she might be telling the truth!” before immediately asserting that her accusations are too vague and Kavanaugh’s denial is legit.
Before we go on to the really good stuff, I want to point out the hilarity of Whelan writing that “none of the four lived in the vicinity of Columbia Country Club”...just before revealing that two of them lived within five miles.
That’s the vicinity, Ed! That’s well within the vicinity, no matter how strictly you definite vicinity! Or, to use Ford’s phrase of “not far from,” I can tell you that two locations 3.7 miles apart are not far from each other. A five-minute drive does not reach the level of “insurmountable distance,” much as Ed might want it to.
And now that Ed embarrassed himself and undermined his own argument right off the bat, can we call it quits?
No? Not gonna happen?
Yup, Judge and Smyth seem super close to the Country Club, alright!
Here’s a tip, Ed: When you’re trying to prove the opposite point, just zoom way in on the country club so that the other houses aren’t even on the maps. Maybe go all the way to Google Earth and then be like “you can’t even see the Kavanaugh or Smyth homes from the giant pine trees outside the clubhouse!”
Only stupid people would believe you, but that’s also the case now, so nothing lost.
Oh baby! Ohhhhhh baby! I smell some libel a’comin’!!!!
GIMME THAT SWEET LIBEL, ED! GIVE IT TO ME! TELL ME WHO REALLY DID THE SEXUAL ASSAULT! NAME HIS NAME, EDDY!
Ed, look, you promised me libel, and I’m excited for libel, but you’re kinda blue-balling me here with these floor plans, bud. I want that libel, Ed, and I want it bad.
THERE IT IS!
There’s the introduction of Garrett, a person who, as far as we know, has absolutely no connection to the sexual assault of Christine Blasey Ford aside from the fact that a far-right psychopath with delusions of insight just connected the two on Twitter.
Seriously, that’s it. He found some dude who looked like Kavanaugh, bullshitted about his floor plan for a while, and then jumped right to “Kavanaugh didn’t do it, Garrett did.” It’s kind of hilarious, in its way, although the hilarity is undercut by the dark, dark irresponsibility of the whole thing, and the even darker attempt to use cowardly language and insincere disavowals to call an assault victim a liar.
Chris Garrett posted on Mark Judge’s Facebook wall once. Case closed.
That would be like me saying Ed Whelan is a confirmed ghoul just because he worked in George W. Bush’s Department of Justice. Except that I’d be right.
Honestly? This is almost too much libel right now. I’m overdosing on libel, and I’m afraid I might get addicted.
These four tweets are great, because they’re basically like, “If the other truly preposterous premises of my theory are right, then probably this other preposterous one is too.”
I’m going to start arguing like this from now on. First, I’m going to put out a bunch of hypotheses that I absolutely can’t prove and that make no sense. Like: “Donald Trump is an elf from Sweden. He celebrates the Swedish elf holiday Korskjjiiingen. On that day, all Swedish elves jump in the big lakes and declare war on the fish for 24 hours, for as everyone knows, the fish are the enemy of the elf.”
Then I’ll let that settle for a second, and hit you with the stunning conclusion:
“If everything I said above is true, what reasonable person would argue with me when I conclude that Trump bites the heads off live fish and wears them as gloves?”
“Of course, we don’t know the truth of Trump and his fish gloves, but there’s every reason to believe that, actually, yes we do.”
My two favorite parts of this closing salvo:
To be clear, I have no idea what, if anything, did or did not happen in that bedroom at the top of the stairs, and I therefore do not state, imply or insinuate that Garrett or anyone else committed the sexual assault that Ford alleges.
No no, that’s exactly what you just did with this inane Twitter rant. You stated, implied, and insinuated that very thing! Over and over again!
We need a special word for bullshit disclaimers like this one, where the writer is clearly just trying to wriggle out of any legal liability for what he actually said and what he actually believes. I bet the Germans have something good.
It is regrettable that private citizens are being drawn into this. But that is the product of Senator Feinstein’s shockingly shoddy handling of the whole matter.
YOU DID IT! YOU JUST DREW THE PRIVATE CITIZEN INTO THIS! IT WAS YOU, ED WHELAN, YOU SIMPERING RIGHT-WING GOBLIN! DIANNE FEINSTEIN DIDN’T SAY A THING ABOUT CHRIS GARRETT! THAT WAS YOUUUUUUU!
Look, I could go on and on about how Whelan just made a massive, massive mistake. But instead, I’d like to turn now to a tweet from another loathsome conservative:
Ed, when Ben Shapiro thinks you’ve gone too far, you should probably just jump off a bridge.
In closing, I am about 1,000% sure that Ed Whelan is staggeringly wrong with this foray into bad detective work. But he better pray he’s right, because if not? He just turned the spotlight on an innocent man, and if there’s any justice, that innocent man will sue him to the moon.