Saturday, October 06, 2018

Very Effective Myth

As someone who believed Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton would square off in the 2008 presidential primary, I recognize- at least in hindsight- a bad prediction when I see one.

A couple of hours after Senator Susan Collins delivered her stunningly disingenuous or remarkably naive speech endorsing Brett Kavanaugh, Slate's legal editor, Mark Joseph Stern, demolished her argument. However, when Kavanaugh buddy Ed Whelan speculated that Dr. Ford's allegation of attempted rape was all a matter of mistaken identity, Stern wrote

If the people who helped construct and hype this notion really thought it would work, then this nomination is in on the verge of collapse. Whelan’s theory is astonishingly desperate, an outlandish and potentially defamatory Hail Mary that no rational person would find persuasive. His willingness to humiliate himself and destroy his reputation in a calamitously misguided effort to push Kavanaugh over the finish line speaks volumes. Hard as it may be to believe, this is apparently the best they’ve got.

The best thev've got (or the grammatically correct "the best they have") has proven to be quite enough. Several Republicans picked up on it and as Chris Hayes would tweet, "the Ed Whelan theory (or some version of it) has basically become the default consensus of the GOP." An hour or so later, Whelan's theory reached its apogee in Senator Collins' speech endorsing Kavanaugh when, in high hypocrisy, she stated

Mr. President, I listened carefully to Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony before the Judiciary Committee. I found her testimony to be sincere, painful, and compelling. I believe that she is a survivor of a sexual assault and that this trauma has upended her life. Nevertheless, the four witnesses she named could not corroborate any of the events of that evening gathering where she says the assault occurred; none of the individuals Professor Ford says were at the party has any recollection at all of that night.

Those four do not include Mark Judge, the individual identified by Dr. Ford as having participated in the (alleged) attempted rape. Nor did any state that the assault did not happen.

Republicans don't expect quite to co-opt #MeToo. But they do want to defuse the movement. They can't do that by charging that the woman- any woman- is lying or that a devastating incident never happened. So they claim they believe the "testimony" is "sincere, painful, and compelling." But, poor dear, she doesn't realize it was some other guy who did it to her.

It is a disingenuous, dishonest, even sexist, argument. Women are separated from their own agency. They do not have the capacity of lying, which normal, autonomous beings are able to do. They are mistaken or deluded.

They care so much for Christine Blasey Ford. Collins added "Watching her, Mr. President, I could not help but feel that some people who wanted to engineer the defeat of this nomination cared little, if at all, for her well-being.". Then she announced she will vote to put onto the Supreme Court for life the man whom the poor dear credibly maintains attempted to rape her. Forty-eight of her GOP colleagues, given cover by the Whelan theory, will do so, too,

Ed Whelan was ridiculed in some quarters when he floated his theory. But truth be damned, so Republican senators unwrapped this present, applied more discreet, tasteful gift wrap, then re-gifted it.

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