One of the first casualties of all out political war is imagination. Neither side seems interested in placing itself in the shoes of its opponent. In the case of Brett Kavanaugh, I dare say the collective imagination of the political left was the first to fail.
In a desperate attempt to derail his nomination to the U.S.Supreme Court, most liberals have rushed to judgment on the thin allegations lodged against Kavanaugh. Worse, they have vilified as misogynistic sexual assault deniers anyone who questions the veracity of the claims against him. Can they really not imagine finding themselves on the other side of this fiasco?
Let me paint a picture: Hillary Clinton has won the 2016 election and names a young, moderately-progressive, Ivy-League-educated jurist to fill the seat formerly held by Scalia (Merrick Garland has withdrawn from consideration). Sure, he’s white and male and establishment. Red state Democrats might not vote for someone too progressive.
He’s also well-qualified; lauded by lawyers both liberal and conservative. He’s had six prior FBI background investigations without a hint of impropriety. He’s a devoted husband and father, and all-around good guy. Feminist groups have championed his record of hiring and mentoring female law clerks as an example of his commitment to equity and female empowerment. What’s not to like?
Conservatives, of course, are panicked.
The confirmation hearings are brutal. GOP senators repeatedly interrupt the proceedings. Right-wing protestors dressed as unborn babies crowd the hallways outside the hearing room. And before the hearings are over, nearly every Republican senator has announced vehement opposition to the nominee. Still, confirmation is all but certain.
Then, days before the vote, Sen. Ted Cruz drops a bombshell. One of his constituents says she was sexually assaulted by the nominee in high school more than 30 years ago — an allegation she’s shared with no one except apparently her therapist in couple’s counseling a few years prior and even then without identifying her assailant.
Cruz has been sitting on the allegation for weeks, waiting for just the right moment to release it. He never turns it over to the Judiciary Committee, doesn’t pass it along to the FBI, and never mentions the allegations to the nominee in private meetings or public hearings. Instead, he refers the constituent, a successful professional woman, to some Republican lawyers who recommend the alleged victim take a polygraph. Her allegation is then mysteriously leaked to the press.
It so happens the alleged victim is a Trump voter. That doesn’t matter in the era of #metoo; we always #believewomen. While her memories of the alleged assault are hazy — she can’t remember where or when it occurred exactly and none of her friends from that time can corroborate her story — she otherwise appears sincere and empathetic.
Two more women come forward with salacious claims of sexual misconduct, and the media, after finding no witnesses to support the women’s accusations, treats them seriously. One of the allegations involves the nominee supposedly facilitating gang rapes at high school parties. When the nominee emotionally defends himself, commentators assail his temperament. Conservative pundits accuse him of perjuring himself about the amount of alcohol he consumed in high school. They demand a new FBI “investigation,” which turns up nothing, then call the investigation a farce.
There is the picture. My guess is most progressives would be furious, and I wouldn’t blame them.
This is roughly how most conservatives I know see what has transpired with Kavanaugh. Why so many people on the left can’t appreciate this? I can only imagine.
Cynthia M. Allen is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Readers may send her email at firstname.lastname@example.org.