Attendant sideshows this past week have included protesters crowding Senate office buildings and, on Monday night, chanting “We believe survivors!” at Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and his wife at a Washington restaurant until the couple left.
In turn-the-other-cheek fashion (or was it tongue-in-cheek?), Cruz said to his tormentors: “God bless you,” which was pretty cheeky. What could they say to that?
Watching video clips of the hecklers, I kept thinking of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” Has some alien army filled with hatred and self-importance hijacked the bodies of ordinary-looking American citizens, turning them into angry, arrogant, sniping hoodlums? The scene also brought to mind “Zorba the Greek” (sorry, I’ve seen a lot of movies), during which crones dressed in black visit a woman’s deathbed and begin to pick at her belongings and clothes — impatient for her demise and the appropriation of her worldly goods.
Monday night’s mini-mob was like a flock of crows, picking, pecking and screeching at the still very much alive Cruz. All because he’s a longtime friend of Kavanaugh and sits on the Judiciary Committee. This is the reward we give to those who choose to serve the public. One female protester who claimed to be a victim of sexual assault demanded to know whether Cruz would vote for Kavanaugh. Let me help you here: They’ve been friends for 20 years, and Cruz is a pro-life Republican, so yes.
In a snit of levity, another heckler shouted that Cruz’s opponent in his bid for reelection, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, “is way hotter than you are!”
You see, life really is a continuous reenactment of high school — a “Groundhog Day” reordering of how things should have been. A group calling itself #SmashRacismDC celebrated Monday’s hecklefest with a promise on Facebook: “This is a message to Ted Cruz, Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump and the rest of the racist, sexist, transphobic, and homophobic right-wing scum: You are not safe. We will find you. We will expose you. We will take from you the peace you have taken from so many others.”
They also tweeted, “Fascists not welcome!”
Irony, meet your executioner.
While these virtual and real tantrums were taking place, Kavanaugh (alongside his wife, Ashley Estes Kavanaugh) was making a public appearance from the safety of Fox News. At times, Kavanaugh visibly struggled to maintain his composure and stick to the three points he clearly came to make: “I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone”; “I just want a fair process”; and “I’m not going anywhere.”
One might have hoped for something less scripted, but obviously he wasn’t about to make headlines with speculation about his accusers’ motives or character. Christine Blasey Ford, who claims Kavanaugh tried to rape her at a party in the early 1980s, is scheduled to testify before the Judiciary Committee on Thursday — as is Kavanaugh.
One also wouldn’t expect Kavanaugh to comment on Deborah Ramirez, who told the New Yorker, “after six days of carefully assessing her memories,” that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party when they were undergraduates at Yale University. Apparently, drinking was involved. The New York Times, which had also researched her claim, was unable to find anyone to corroborate the tale. In a complicating wrinkle, Kavanaugh’s Yale roommate has said he believes Ramirez, though he provided no reason other than he liked her.
There’s nothing good about any of this.
Those who come forward as survivors of sexual assault deserve our respect and a fair hearing, without qualification. But so do the accused. To conflate support for due process in a trial-like setting with attacking the alleged victim is to misunderstand the exquisitely designed presumption of innocence — the liberal core of our justice system.
What we have now amounts to gossip until both sides can be heard. In the meantime, before they switch places with the benighted GOP, Democrats would do well to loudly condemn hecklers. These misguided champions of chaos do harm, not just to the social order, but to the very causes with which they align themselves.
They also remind us that civilization hangs by a thread — and is unraveling before our eyes.
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David Von Drehle: Kavanaugh says he never blacked out from drinking. Yeah right.
Robert H. Tembeckjian: Yes, we can investigate decades-old allegations against judges. I’ve done it.
Molly Roberts: What happens at Georgetown Prep
John Yoo: Senators, you are not running a criminal trial