We don’t yet have enough evidence to say definitively whether Brett M. Kavanaugh attacked Christine Blasey Ford when both were in high school. By contrast, we have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that President Trump’s Republican Party has adopted misogyny as an election strategy.
Consider Trump’s rant Tuesday directed at the second woman to step forward to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual assault. He labeled her as part of a “con game.” Regarding Deborah Ramirez, Trump declared, “And now a new charge comes up, and she says it may not be him and there are gaps. And she was totally inebriated, and all messed up, and she doesn’t know. ‘It might have been him, or it might have been him.’ ‘Gee, let’s not make him a Supreme Court judge.’ ” He then went on to bemoan the damage to Kavanaugh’s life.
This echoes the language used to defend former GOP Senate candidate and accused child molester Roy Moore. It brings us back to Trump’s defense of Rob Porter, former White House staff secretary and accused spousal abuser. We’re back to denying and defaming Trump’s own accusers. The men are the victims. The women in league with the media are conniving or loony or both. Forget the evidence; the women are always lying.
While other Republicans don’t use quite the same language, how different from Trump’s attack was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) declaration on the floor that this is all a “smear job”? How different is Sen. Lindsey O. Graham’s (R-S.C.) assertion that the women’s claims must not be investigated and that all men are potential targets for false accusations? They don’t care what Ford says — she can talk, but they won’t listen.
It’s more than lack of decency or regard for victims here. (By the way, imagine treating the victim of a robbery or attempted murder in such fashion. No, this is the special brand of anti-victim venom stored up for women who complain.) This is a deliberate tactic to engage the GOP’s base, who Republican officials suppose is equally outraged that a woman should ruin Kavanaugh’s life by bringing up something as, well, trivial in their book as sexual assault.
Republicans shed the pretense of fairness and brag about their refusal to take female victims seriously. They cannot contain themselves and do not want to, for this is a party saturated in testosterone and white male grievance. It thrives on wailing over mainstream media reporting facts it doesn’t like. The Republican Party reincarnates the Red Scare, but rather than communists, everyone is in league with one another to bring down white men. Historic victims of injustice, they are. That’s the sales pitch — that’s it! — to its Fox News-hypnotized base. White men are victims; if we don’t destroy critics, we’re done for.
The Supreme Court fight is no longer so much about whether Kavanaugh gets confirmed but whether anyone in the GOP Senate — or rather, two of them — calls a halt to the deliberate strategy of insults, attacks and meanness. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) can differentiate herself from Trump and McConnell — and has — by calling for an FBI inquiry. That is taking the allegations seriously and treating the victims fairly. She may choose to vote to confirm after all is said and done, but if she and others vote without an inquiry, she is no better than Trump and McConnell.
A vote with no investigation, without a key witness (Mark Judge, who is just hanging out in Delaware), without calling Ramirez to testify, vindicates the Trump/McConnell strategy in which women are used as fodder in the culture wars. It’s okay, they bet, to abuse women politically and verbally for the sake of getting the base riled up. That is what is at stake. It’s time to decide who is an enabler and who’s an advocate for fairness and basic human decency.