Words! Words! Words!
I’m so sick of words!
I get words all day through!
First from him, now from you! Is that all you blighters can do?”
— Eliza Doolittle, singing “Show Me” from My Fair Lady
I feel Eliza’s frustration. In Lerner and Loewe’s masterful song, she tells us how fed up she is with professor Henry Higgins and then the callow, pretty-boy scion Freddy Eynsford-Hill. Americans, women in particular, have heard a lot of nice words lately from senators with furrowed brows lamenting the vitriol in Congress and treatment of a sex-crimes victim. Now they need to stop talking. No more words other than “aye” or “no” on Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation. To borrow from Eliza, show us.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) was “kind of appalled” by President Trump’s cruel ridicule of Christine Blasey Ford. He was not pleased with Kavanaugh’s “sharp and partisan tone.” He demanded a real investigation, not just something to give Republicans “cover.” Neither President Trump nor Kavanaugh has shown an ounce of regret for their respective screeds; the FBI probe turns out to be an investigation that didn’t include speaking with the accused, every accuser, or a slew of witnesses. Flake has said that if you believe Ford, you have to vote against Kavanaugh. If he lied, he’s through, Flake also declared. So what now? Flake is no bystander here; his vote matters more than it ever has. Words are great, Senator, but show us.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has insisted that she wouldn’t put anyone on the court who’d eviscerate women’s access to abortions, yet she chooses to construe Kavanaugh’s carefully selected, largely meaningless words as a vow not to obliterate abortion rights. (In light of his laughable denials regarding drinking and sexual innuendos, does anyone really think Collins can bank on his “promise”?) She, too, didn’t like Trump’s language mocking Ford. “The president’s comments were just plain wrong,” she let it be known. In the Bangor Daily News, former Maine congressman Tom Andrews reminds Collins of the example of Margaret Chase Smith denouncing Joseph McCarthy during the Cold War. “This is a historic moment for the nation and a legacy moment for Collins,” Andrews writes. “It is precisely the time for another ‘Declaration of Conscience’ by a senator from Maine.” Take the tough vote, Andrews implores her. Show us!
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) declared Trump’s words in Mississippi to be “wholly inappropriate and in my view unacceptable.” She said she was assured by the White House counsel that the FBI would conduct an investigation just as it does any other. (That’s a non-commitment commitment if I’ve ever heard one.) But she wanted the facts. No vote before she had facts from a thorough investigation. She has also said that it’s not about Kavanaugh’s qualifications any longer. “It is about whether or not a woman who has been a victim at some point in her life is to be believed,” Murkowski said. Fine words. So does she believe Ford? It’s time for her to show us.
Oh, and then there is the Freddy Eynsford-Hill of the Senate, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) — he produces very little, but boy, does he have a lot of words. Words in tweets, in books and most recently on the floor of the apparently empty Senate chamber well past 9 p.m. on Wednesday. To no one other than the C-Span camera, he announced: “Although I’ve said many complimentary things about Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his distinguished record … I will say that I urged the president back in June and early July to make a different choice before he announced this nomination.” He wanted a woman to be nominated, he said, because, well, it’s a little fuzzy. “Part of my argument then was that the very important #MeToo movement was also very new and that this Senate is not at all well prepared to handle potential allegations of sexual harassment and assault.” (I’m not sure I follow, but he wants us to know he really, really cares about women.) Now the choice is Kavanaugh or not. Save the words. Show us.
At least Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was clear and unabashed from the get-go. He spared us the insincerity. He had no interest in investigating Ford’s allegations. Nothing was going to change his mind. His plan was to blame the Democrats for delays and then box in his own Republican members, forcing a quick vote. He might be onto something. He knows senators use many, many words. Nevertheless, McConnell knows all those words in the end don’t matter. Does he have at least 51 votes or not?
The undecided Republican senators have used so many lovely words. They told us that women should be believed, civility be maintained, the facts be determined and the rule of law be protected. They don’t like Trump’s tone — or Kavanaugh’s. We get it. We’ve heard the words. Now it’s time to show us.
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