There were some signs before now, especially in how I witnessed some women react to the results of the 2016 presidential election. But it has only been since the confirmation battle over Brett Kavanaugh began that I have seen what was mostly inner distress manifest itself in more open ways, like spontaneous sobbing and sudden expletive-laced expressions of despairing rage. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to express what this sad saga is doing to women in this nation, but it’s hard to know if I’m really grasping it myself. Sometimes it seems like it’s better to let women speak for themselves. Children’s book author Lisa Schroeder seemed to capture it in a tweet when she said, “Every day, it feels like I am facing a gigantic bully who is punching me over and over again.”
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley has dutifully rammed Kavanaugh’s confirmation through all obstacles, and he predicts that Kavanaugh will be confirmed within forty-eight hours. He also says, “This is almost rock-bottom. I would like to have the future of mending things so that we can do things in a collegial way that the U.S. Senate ought to do — and particularly when it comes to the Supreme Court nomination.”
That’s a completely fanciful ambition. Justice John Paul Stevens retired from the court when he was 90 years old. Brett Kavanaugh will 90 years old on February 12, 2055. That’s how long this wound could fester. This isn’t a momentary decision, but a potentially 37-year decision. And we couldn’t even spend a couple of extra days to have a satisfactory investigation into the accusations that have been leveled at Kavanaugh.
I read what New York Times columnist Bret Stephens wrote this morning about how he’s grateful that Donald Trump is president (for once) because “ferocious and even crass obstinacy has its uses in life” and “he’s a big fat hammer fending off a razor-sharp dagger.” I understood some of his points and even had sympathy for a couple of them, but he doesn’t spend any time contemplating what it will mean to have Kavanaugh sitting on the Supreme Court, decade after decade, after his demonstrable display of dishonesty and unfitness during these proceedings.
To be sure, there would be costs on the other side if he were to be denied confirmation, and I don’t dispute that this has been one of the nastiest and no holds barred spectacles in the history of the country. But another Justice would eventually take this place on the Court and the wounds would slowly heal over time. That’s not going to happen with Kavanaugh sitting on the bench after he promised payback to the Clinton conspiracists he falsely claims have been behind the allegations against him.
I suppose it’s possible that Kavanaugh may one day be impeached, but that would be a rending national debacle all on its own, and, absent that remedy, this is a sore that is going to weep without end. It’s a mistake to confirm this man because his rulings will not be accepted and his mere presence will destroy the credibility of the Court.
The Republicans are thinking very short term right now, looking at a temporary uptick in the Senate race polls and thinking they’re on the right track. But I can tell, just by observing the women in my life, that this has set off a determined revolt and activated formerly apathetic people into a lifetime of activism and an absolutely unshakable thirst for payback.
Sen. Grassley says we’re at “rock bottom” and he wants “a future of mending things,” but if he actually interacted with the people he’s bullying he’d find out that he hasn’t seen rock bottom and their idea of mending things will not be to his liking.