Here Are The Ways Christine Blasey Ford’s Story Is Being Dismissed

Conservatives are coming up with conspiracy theories about Ford and saying her allegations are just too old to investigate.

Well, Kavanaugh Didn’t Sexually Assault Every Woman

.. Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee released a letter signed by 65 women who said they knew Kavanaugh in high school and could vouch for his “decency.” Two women who said they dated Kavanaugh also released statements Monday saying that they knew him as a good guy.

Bringing out women who didn’t experience any sexual misconduct to vouch for the character of a man is a common tactic. It happened during Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court confirmation hearing and when then–Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes was under fire. But just because a man didn’t mistreat all women doesn’t mean he didn’t mistreat one woman.

If It Could Happen To Kavanaugh, It Could Happen To Any Man

If it could happen to him, Joe from your office could be next. Maybe Ray, the friendly guy who bags your groceries. Or even you.

“If somebody can be brought down by accusations like this, then you, me, every man certainly should be worried. We can all be accused of something,” said a lawyer close to the White House.

But it hasn’t happened to every man. Neal Gorsuch made it onto the Supreme Court bench just fine. So did John Roberts and Samuel Alito.

Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) tweeted a similar concern.

Joe Walsh

And remember this: If stupid, bad, or drunken behavior as a minor back in high school were the standard, every male politician in Washington, DC would fail.

Every single one. Hypocrites.

Alexandra Petri at The Washington Post has a solid response to this worry.

Ford Got Low Marks On A Professor-Rating Website

The conservative Drudge Report ran with a story from Grabien News on Monday that purported to have uncovered negative reviews of Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University, by her students and posted on RateMyProfessor.com. This attack would seemingly undermine Ford because a bad professor can’t also be a victim of sexual assault, or something?

But they messed with the wrong woman. No, really. The story was literally about the wrong woman. The reviews were about Christine A. Ford, a social worker who taught at California State University at Fullerton.

Although Grabien News posted a retraction, Drudge deleted the tweet and pretended nothing ever happened.

.. It Was So Long Ago

Ari Fleischer, who served as President George W. Bush’s press secretary during the run-up to the Iraq War, said he wasn’t sure Kavanaugh should be held responsible for something he did in high school.

“How much in society should any of us be held liable today when we lived a good life, an upstanding life by all accounts, and then something that maybe is an arguable issue took place in high school?” Fleischer said on Fox News. “Should that deny us chances later in life? Even for a Supreme Court job, a presidency of the United States or you name it. How accountable are we for high school actions, when this is clearly a disputable high school action? That’s a tough issue.”

Donald Trump Jr. put up an Instagram post implying that they were just kids back then and it was just like when a boy asks a girl out on a date with a handwritten note.

Ford, meanwhile, said that the incident with Kavanaugh “derailed me substantially for four or five years,” leading her to struggle academically and socially. She also had trouble forming relationships with men.

According to The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, because the alleged assault happened so long ago, just ignore it: “Yet there is no way to confirm her story after 36 years, and to let it stop Mr. Kavanaugh’s confirmation would ratify what has all the earmarks of a calculated political ambush.”

.. They Were Just Horsing Around

Carrie Severino, the chief counsel at the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, attempted to defend Kavanaugh on Tuesday by characterizing the behavior described by Ford as “rough horseplay.”

Josh Marshall

“Her allegations cover a whole range of conduct from boorishness to rough horseplay to actual attempted rape. If you go to rape, yes, that’s a very serious allegation,” she said.

When the CNN anchor pointed out that Ford never once described what Kavanaugh did as horseplay, Severino replied, “She’s certainly implying that it’s attempted rape, but you have to look at ― there are 35 years of memory that we’re trying to play with here. I’m saying that the behavior she described here could be a whole range of things. I know her perception of it was one way.”

Yes, that’s what high school students do all the time. Just men and women, horsing around, with one trying to remove the other’s clothes.

.. Something About The Salem Witch Trials

Lance Morrow, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal comparing Kavanaugh to women who had been accused of being witches. He said that “hysterical fantasies had real consequences,” resulting in the death of women believed to be witches.

Morrow goes after Ford for first not identifying herself and points out that because there was no police report, no witnesses and the other guy in the room at the time (whose reliability as a character witness is questionable) denies that the incident took place.

“The thing happened — if it happened — an awfully long time ago,” he added, “back in Ronald Reagan’s time, when the actors in the drama were minors and (the boys, anyway) under the blurring influence of alcohol and adolescent hormones.”

Something About The Russia Investigation

The Liberty Counsel, a conservative group supporting Kavanaugh, sent out a press release with at least seven reasons the public should not trust Ford. One of them seemed new and different:

Ford has a brother, Ralph Blasey, who worked for Baker Hostetler, a law firm that retained Fusion GPS, the infamous DC company that produced the unverified Steele dossier on President Donald Trump and Russia, sparking the Russia investigation.

It’s ridiculous to think that because Ford’s brother works at a law firm that had some tie to the Russia investigation, she is in on some grand conspiracy to bring down Kavanaugh and Trump. But Blasey worked at the firm from 1989 to 2004 — long before Trump was president or even considering running for president.

.. Ford Bears A Grudge Against Kavanaugh’s Mom

Right-wing websites started running with a theory about why Ford is coming out against Kavanaugh (other than that he allegedly assaulted her): His mother, formerly a Maryland district judge, ruled against Ford’s parents in a foreclosure case.

“Isn’t it kind of amazing that all the media reports today didn’t mention this little conflict of interest for Blasey-Ford?” wrote the site Pacific Pundit.

They didn’t mention this story because it’s not true, as Snopes points out. Kavanaugh’s mom did preside in a foreclosure case involving Ford’s parents, but the outcome of the case was actually favorable for them.

This is the new GOP: Angry and afraid

One of the unpleasant surprises of your 50s (among many) is seeing the heroes and mentors of your 20s pass away. I worked for Chuck Colson, of Watergate fame, who became, through his work with prisoners, one of the most important social reformers of the 20th century. I worked for Jack Kemp, who inspired generations of conservatives with his passion for inclusion. I worked against John McCain in the 2000 Republican primaries but came to admire his truculent commitment to principle.

Perhaps it is natural to attribute heroism to past generations and to find a sad smallness in your own. But we are seeing the largest test of political character in my lifetime. And where are the Republican leaders large enough to show the way?

President Trump’s recent remarks to evangelical Christians at the White House capture where Republican politics is heading. “This November 6 election,” Trump said, “is very much a referendum on not only me, it’s a referendum on your religion.” A direct, unadorned appeal to tribal hostilities. Fighting for Trump, the president argued, is the only way to defend the Christian faith. None of these men and women of God, apparently, gagged on their hors d’oeuvres.

.. “It’s not a question of like or dislike, it’s a question that [Democrats] will overturn everything that we’ve done, and they will do it quickly and violently. And violently. There is violence.” Here Trump is preparing his audience for the possibility of bloodshed by predicting it from the other side. Christians, evidently, need to start taking “Onward, Christian Soldiers” more literally.

.. This is now what passes for GOP discourse — the cultivation of anger, fear, grievances, prejudices and hatreds.

.. “the true populist loses patience with the rules of the democratic game.” He comes to view himself as the embodied voice of the people, and opponents as (in Trump’s words) “un-American” and “treasonous.”

.. As Robert S. Mueller III continues his inexorable investigation of Trump’s sleazy business and political world — and if Democrats gain the House and begin aggressive oversight — a cornered president may test the limits of executive power in the attempt to avoid justice. If the GOP narrowly retains control of the House, Trump and others will take it as the vindication of his whole approach to politics. The president will doubtlessly go further in targeting his enemies for investigation and other harm. He will doubtlessly attack the independence of the FBI and attempt to make it an instrument of his will. He will doubtlessly continue his vendetta against responsible journalism and increase his pressure on media companies that don’t please him. On a broad front, Trump’s lunacy will become operational.

.. But at length he was asked to retreat from that final area where he located his self. And there this supple, humorous, unassuming and sophisticated person set like metal, was overtaken by an absolutely primitive rigor, and could no more be budged than a cliff.”

Republican leaders may dread it, but they will eventually be forced to identify that final area where they keep themselves — or find there is no one there.

The Likeliest Explanation for Trump’s Helsinki Fiasco

Character, not collusion, best explains the president’s bizarre deference to Vladimir Putin.

Last week, I wrote that the best way to think about a Trump Doctrine is as nothing more than Trumpism on the international stage. By Trumpism, I do not mean a coherent ideological program, but a psychological phenomenon, or simply the manifestation of his character.

.. During a joint news appearance with Russian president Vladimir Putin, Trump demonstrated that, when put to the test, he cannot see any issue through a prism other than his grievances and ego.

.. Trump made it clear that he can only understand the investigation into Russian interference as an attempt to rob him of credit for his electoral victory, and thus to delegitimize his presidency.’
.. For most people with a grasp of the facts — supporters and critics alike — the question of Russian interference and the question of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign are separate. Russia did interfere in the election, full stop. Whether there was collusion is still an open question, even if many Trump supporters have made up their minds about it. Whether Russian interference, or collusion, got Trump over the finish line is ultimately unknowable, though I think it’s very unlikely.

.. Among the self-styled “resistance,” the answer takes several sometimes overlapping, sometimes contradictory forms.
  1. One theory is that the Russians have “kompromat” — that is, embarrassing or incriminating intelligence on Trump. Another is that
  2. he is a willing asset of the Russians — “Agent Orange” — with whom he colluded to win the presidency.

.. their real shortcoming is that they are less plausible than the Aesopian explanation: This is who Trump is. Even if Russia hadn’t meddled in the election at all, Trump would still admire Putin because Trump admires men like Putin — which is why he’s praised numerous other dictators and strongmen.

.. The president’s steadfast commitment to a number of policies —

  • animosity toward NATO,
  • infatuation with protectionism,
  • an Obama-esque obsession with eliminating nuclear weapons, and
  • his determination that a “good relationship” with Russia should be a policy goal rather than a means to one

— may have some ideological underpinning. (These policies all seem to be rooted in intellectual fads of the 1980s.)

 

The New Cruelty

the New Cruelty is the Trumpian successor to the New Deal and Great Society.

.. And, indeed, Lewandowski seems especially vile in an era in which vileness increasingly appears to be a career path. But was his insensitive gibe off-message? Or was it simply a cruder version of the New Cruelty that has displaced whatever was left of “compassionate conservativism”?
..  Trump rode to the presidency by embracing broad, crudely designed policies—from the proposed ban on all Muslims to mass deportations of all illegals—that ineluctably lead to a zero-tolerance policy that demands the arrest of all illegal border-crossers, even those with infants or children.
.. his supporters enthusiastically cheered polices that treat large populations as an undifferentiated mass, regardless of individual circumstances. These policies do not treat individuals based on the “content of their character,” or their merit, or the exigencies of their circumstances, but on their religion, nationality, and immigration status.
.. the president has cultivated a studied insensitivity, treating empathy as a sign of weakness or fecklessness.
.. The distinctive rhetoric of Trumpism isn’t merely the use of insult and invective against political opponents; it is also the brutal willingness to degrade and demonize others as “animals” and “rapists” while unsubtly comparing them to the sort of vermin who will “infest” the country.
.. swaggering callousness became a hallmark of Trumpism, with harshness masquerading as toughness and cruelty as a sign of strength.
.. Ironically, conservatives used to lead the charge against zero-tolerance policies, because they produce foolish, knee-jerk, bureaucratic responses that lack common sense and result in absurd outcomes.
.. It was in the name of zero tolerance that a kindergartner was once suspended for bringing a dinosaur-shaped squirt gun to school and it was zero tolerance that led school boards to such excesses as expelling a high school student for having a single tablet of Advil in her purse.
.. What’s important to recognize is that the children were not collateral damage of Trump’s policy: They were the entire point.
.. Removing them from their parents was designed to be shocking because their trauma was intended as a deterrent.
.. the pitiless separation of young children from their mothers was supposed to send a chilling message to anyone foolish enough to seek asylum here.
.. More important, it was supposed to project strength, or at least the bully’s imitation of strength.
.. Perhaps more than any other trait, it is this that motivates Trump: his need to appear strong and his fear of looking weak.
.. He is just another of the menagerie of misfit toys, in the likeness of Steve Bannon, who feed off Trump’s sundry insecurities. They do not shape or influence those anxieties, they simply minister to them, encouraging the president in his use of spite to substitute for real strength.
.. Fred Hiatt described the New Cruelty as the ultimate victory of Bannonism:

Truculent, anti-immigrant nationalism; disdain for the “deep state”; disparaging democratic allies while celebrating dictators: These are now the pillars of President Trump’s rule. In his administration’s policy, foreign and domestic, and in the compliant Republican Party, Bannonism is ascendant.

.. Bannonism is now indistinguishable from Trumpism.

while it’s tempting to see Bannon’s fall as an inflection point, the reality is that his departure does nothing to change the fundamental nature of this presidency, which continues to be shaped by Donald Trump’s hollow core, erratic character and impulsivity….

As malign an influence as Bannon was, it seems naïve to now expect a more modulated or moderate Trump. Instead, we can expect Trump to attempt to insulate himself against Bannonite attacks by throwing out even more red meat for his base, and escalating the culture wars that Bannon has done so much to foment.

.. Bannon may have helped write the ill-fated travel ban, but it was Trump who denounced “Mexican rapists,” and Trump who called for a Muslim ban. It was Trump, not Bannon, who rose from reality TV stardom to political prominence and power by spreading birther conspiracy theories.

.. It was Trump, not Bannon, who retweeted white supremacists and refused to distance himself from white nationalists during the campaign; Trump, not Bannon, who attacked a Mexican-American judge, demeaned women and mocked a disabled reporter.

.. Divorcing Bannon doesn’t fix what is wrong with this presidency. The cancer at the heart of this White House isn’t the staff. It’s the man in the Oval Office and he is not changing.