As I write this, the Julie Swetnick allegations have just come to light.
This is what the right has now. The dishonorable Judge Kavanaugh is what remains. By the time these words are published, Kavanaugh may have withdrawn. Or he may still be plodding towards the bench. Or at the very instant you are reading this sentence, the sworn wisemen of the Republican Party may be attacking Christine Blasey Ford. And Deborah Ramirez. And Julie Swetnick.
CNBC described Swetnick’s claims as “stunning” and that’s the exactly the right term for it.
Sometimes, political writing is the art of stating the very obvious in plain writing. Here it is:
The nominee for the Supreme Court has been accused of likely sex crimes by three reputable witnesses. The Republican party, their President, and the gathered might of conservative Washington stands behind him. I’m just now listening to the President’s fourth live press conference. Trump is talking about Kavanaugh’s “beautiful children.” And how these accusations are supposedly a con job.
CNBC television just went blank. I wish I could say this came as a surprise. But this is Trump’s America, and nothing shocks us anymore.
Every story is the story of a community. There’s no Hamlet without Denmark. And Kavanaugh’s sordid past is the story of his class. It is the tale of a Washington elite.
When they speak of Kavanaugh’s high reputation, upstanding character, and bountiful good nature, remember who they are speaking to. When they say that “everyone” approves of Kavanaugh—keep in mind who “everyone” means.
Kavanaugh’s only constituency is the master class. Who else loves him? Can you think of anyone who does? I don’t, Democrats don’t, MAGA folks don’t. The sun rose and set long before we knew his name. The people defending him on Twitter would defend any Roe-destroying judge that Trump nominated.
Sometimes, political writing is the art of stating the very obvious in plain writing.
The Kavanaugh controversy is about power. The simple, brutal exercise of might. That’s the way the right works: predation, dominance, and control. Of course a man who probably sexually assaulted a woman will also be the man to take away reproductive rights. Those two features fit hand in glove. The anti-choice movement is about denying women agency. Kavanaugh is the perfect symbol for them.
Kavanaugh is one of the Federalist Society’s under-the-bridge monsters. There a hundred mutants like him in Chevy Chase. If a Republican van kidnapped him off the highway tomorrow morning, there’d be a new nominee soon enough. They can’t let him go, because letting him go would be a diminution of their power.
What makes the Kavanaugh crisis so unique is how it shows the spectacle of the Republican Party eating itself. They just cannot help themselves. They are on the threshold of a generational goal: destroying reproductive rights in America. And yet … their blind reptile urges cripple them.
The Republican credo—not the platform, but the real one—is simple:
Might is right
Own the libs
Protect your own kind
The Republican Party’s success is built on hiding these drives. They swathed these beliefs in rhetorical velvet.
You can’t sell “Make the rich richer,” so you tell the public “Economic liberty.”
You can’t say “White supremacy” so you use “War on crime, war on drugs.”
You can’t say “Own the libs,” so you say “Academic freedom” and accuse Kaepernick of being a traitor.
The mask fell off with Trump. But the Never Trump people could still pretend he wasn’t conservatism.
But Kavanaugh is the fact laid bare.
Everything argues against keeping Brett M. Kavanaugh around. Their stated political goals would be fine with another nominee. Their poll numbers demand another nominee. But their deeper, more base drives, the ones I listed above, prevent them from acting. It’s why they’re so desperate to accuse these women of lying, or excuse Kavanaugh of his apparent crimes.
Perhaps you believe that dropping Kavanaugh would hurt the GOP at midterms. Why? The same hypothetical voters that would punish Republicans for failing to approve Kavanaugh … would still vote for Republicans to spite the Democrats who sank Kavanaugh.
The GOP was always a collection of hustling business lawyers robbing the country blind while they sold the rubes culture war. You want the history of the Republican Party of the last four decades? Here it is: rich guys pay liars to fool voters. In the Sixties, they tied their imperial, elitist project to white populism. The basic card trick amounted to: How do we hide the money part while we sell the culture part? And for a long time, the con worked.
I honestly thought Trump was the most obvious example of the GOP’s hypocrisy. “Here’s a rich fool who says all of our dog whistles out loud.” I thought Kavanaugh was another vanilla clone from the tank. But he’s the GOP’s will to power made flesh. They could have delivered twenty nominees in this time. There’s a reason they haven’t.
Kavanaugh is what they think of justice. He’s what they think of women. He’s what they think of you. Power corrupts, but power reveals, too. The Republican Party has almost absolute power in Washington now.
Here is what they do with it: Brett Kavanaugh.
The Republicans and their nominee can check Kavanaugh’s calendar all they want. November comes, all the same.