And finally there was Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), who told reporters Thursday afternoon, “I found no reason to find [Ford] not credible.”
.. As the strength of the year-old Me Too movement is put to its most public and crucial test yet, Republicans have the political savvy to recognize that they must pay lip service to it, even as they actively campaign against its aims. You could view these concessions as politically motivated to the point of being meaningless. But according to social science research into the complex interaction between social behaviors and privately held views, even self-interested nods at #MeToo may indicate some progress for the movement.
Recent, highly publicized cases of sexual harassment and assault have rapidly created a new norm in which it’s toxic to dismiss alleged survivors. Kavanaugh’s allies are responding to that norm, even if they don’t fully agree with its principles. Over time — and with some serious caveats — norms can influence private views, suggesting that even conservative beliefs on sexual harassment are likely to be shaped at least in the long term by #MeToo.
.. There are many, many examples of norms shifting, sometimes quite abruptly, as institutions tip in one direction or social movements come to fruition: same-sex marriage becoming broadly acceptable after the 2015 Supreme Court decision
.. people are more likely to recycle after they learn — through an article or in conversation — that many of their peers are recyclers... There are plenty of signs that conservative beliefs on sexual abuse have barely shifted since the Clarence Thomas hearings of 1991, such as the apparent assumption among Republicans that Ford’s story would be just a “hiccup” that they could “plow right through... Indeed, it may be like similar “evolutions” on racism, which find people eschewing the n-word in public while remaining as virulent as ever in private... studied how people learn prejudices based on what’s socially acceptable within a certain group — and how they change their views once the group changes... Crandall and his colleagues showed how white college freshmen, entering a new setting in which prejudice against black people was less socially acceptable than in their home towns, learned over the following year to question racist thoughts. “When norms change, or when people join groups that have different norms, there is conflict — with the outside world at first, and then a more internal struggle to fit in better,”.. The often-jarring conflicts we’re seeing between the public behavior and apparent private beliefs of those who support Kavanaugh may represent this initial, college-freshman stage of adapting to a society with changed norms on sexual assault. As #MeToo continues to shape norms around believing survivors, more conservatives could come around as well — not merely when it comes to action but also in their attitudes.
.. Unfortunately, prejudices about gender appear to be especially intractable
.. In cross-cultural work examining prejudice, she has found less sexism in more-developed countries, suggesting that sexism diminishes along with development.
.. “People have women in their families, so changing stereotypic gender roles is more disruptive than for other biases,”
the 54 senators who voted to elevate Judge Gorsuch had received around 54 million votes, and the 45 senators who opposed him got more than 73 million. That’s 58 percent to 42 percent.
.. And if the Senate confirms Brett Kavanaugh soon, the vote is likely to fall along similar lines, meaning that we will soon have two Supreme Court justices who deserve to be called “minority-majority”: justices who are part of a five-vote majority on the bench but who were nominated and confirmed by a president and a Senate who represent the will of a minority of the American people.
.. Two more current members of the dominant conservative bloc, while nominated by presidents who did win the popular vote, were confirmed by senators who collectively won fewer popular votes than the senators who voted against them.
.. Clarence Thomas, who was confirmed in 1991 by 52 senators who won just 48 percent of the popular vote, and Samuel Alito, confirmed in 2006 by 58 senators who garnered, again, 48 percent of the vote.
.. If fate were to hand President Trump one more opportunity to put a justice on the court before 2021, it would almost certainly again be a bitterly contested and close vote, and it would probably leave us with a majority of Supreme Court justices, five, who were confirmed by senators who received a minority share of the vote.
.. no Democratic president has ever taken office after losing the popular vote. And second, justices nominated by Democrats have never been confirmed by such narrow margins. Of the four liberals currently on the court, all received 63 votes or more, from senators winning and representing clear majorities of their voters.
.. we’re on the verge of having a five-member majority who figure to radically rewrite our nation’s laws. And four of them will have been narrowly approved by senators representing minority will.
.. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama did not nominate jurists who had left paper trails of judicial extremism or dropped other hints that their jurisprudence would be radical.
.. outsourced the judicial-selection process to right-wing groups like the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation and twice nominated judges with an eye cast largely toward how happy they would make conservative evangelicals.
.. Republicans are doing to the Supreme Court what they have already accomplished in Congress. There, through aggressive gerrymandering, they’ve muscled their way to a majority even as their candidates have sometimes received collectively fewer votes than Democrats. And now they’re doing it to the court, by breaking the rules (Merrick Garland) and advancing nominees who are confirmed by legislators representing minority support.
It is almost unthinkable that there will be a second Supreme Court justice taking his seat under suspicions of perjury and sexual misconduct.
There is a reason Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing will be short and feature only two witnesses, the Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser Christine Blasey Ford. Republicans have designed the hearing to end in a “he said, she said” stalemate. No matter how credible Dr. Blasey is, isolating her as a lone accuser is the most effective political strategy for confirming Judge Kavanaugh.
His strategy will be simple: categorical denial.
.. Republicans will then be able to claim that fairness had been served because both witnesses were heard. But Americans, denied the testimony of other relevant witnesses who could support Dr. Blasey’s account and denied an F.B.I. investigation into other evidence, won’t be any closer to the truth.
.. This week four people who know Dr. Blasey, including her husband, signed affidavits and submitted them to the Judiciary Committee saying she told them about being sexually assaulted by Judge Kavanaugh before he was nominated by President Trump. Their statements provide important corroboration, and if the Senate was really interested in learning the truth, these people would be called to testify.
.. And then there is Mark Judge, whom Dr. Blasey said participated with Judge Kavanaugh in the high school assault on her and whom Ms. Swetnick said helped him lure girls into “side rooms” at parties to be “gang raped.” The Judiciary Committee has refused to subpoena Mr. Judge, who reportedly was hiding out at a beach house on the Delaware shore
.. Unschooled in the art of political communication, facing questions from not just skeptical senators but also an experienced sex crimes prosecutor retained by the committee’s Republican majority, she must hope that the power of her story, the facts of what happened so long ago, are strong enough to convince the Senate and the millions of Americans watching on television. And she will not have the final say.
Her testimony will be followed by Judge Kavanaugh’s denial. According to his prepared remarks, he will allow that he was not a complete angel in high school, but will absolutely deny that the encounter with Dr. Blasey ever took place. He will have the last word.
.. There were people willing to be called before the committee who would have testified under oath about Judge Thomas’s interest in pornography, information that also would have buttressed Ms. Hill’s testimony. But none were called.
Instead, Senator Joe Biden, the Democratic committee chairman, fearing political backlash, abruptly gaveled the hearings to an end. Anita Hill remained isolated as the lone accuser.
.. It was only in the wee morning hours that I learned that there was a second woman, Angela Wright, who had been ready to testify that Judge Thomas, in the office, had asked about the size of her breasts. Several senators told me years later, when I was reporting for a book, “Strange Justice,” that if Ms. Wright had been allowed to testify, Judge Thomas might not have been confirmed.
.. There were four other women who would have supported aspects of Ms. Hill’s testimony and four others who knew about Judge Thomas’s interest in pornography. At least Hill was permitted to call as witnesses friends in whom she had confided about the sexual harassment she endured. Dr. Blasey won’t have even that.
But it is even more jarring in the context of late-stage Cosby, the moral scold, the comedian turned societal heckler who launched that career by literally defending the police shooting of presumably unarmed black men. In a 2004 screed that came to be known as the “pound cake” speech, he said,
People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake! Then we all run out and are outraged: “The cops shouldn’t have shot him.” What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand? I wanted a piece of pound cake just as bad as anybody else. And I looked at it and I had no money. And something called parenting said, “If you get caught with it, you’re going to embarrass your mother.” Not “You’re going to get your butt kicked.” No. “You’re going to embarrass your mother.”
It is difficult to find adjectives equal to the scale of Cosby’s hypocrisy.
.. Cosby’s appeal lay in his representation of a particular node of racial progress.
.. A young Richard Pryor bristled at the anodyne swath of culture that Cosby occupied in the sixties and the pressures it placed on other comedians, particularly black ones, to create humor that soothed the racial anxieties of a white audience.
.. Cosby served as a brief for a particular kind of racial equality. The indignation on Tuesday stemmed from his presumption that, in America, equality means equal impunity.
.. Clarence Thomas referred to the 1991 Senate inquiry into his own history of sexual harassment as a “high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves.”
.. This is the rhetoric of men whose definition of victimhood is the inability to victimize others.
.. If Kavanaugh ascends to the Supreme Court without a formal investigation into the accusations made against him (all of which he has denied), it will be, in part, because a black man established a model for how best to present oneself as a victim in public. This is a form of interracial unity that the country could do without.
.. Cosby and Kavanaugh are twin exemplars of a kind of amoral amnesty. It is granted to men of great talent and wealth and to those born to men who possess either talent or wealth.
.. Cosby’s poverty-hectoring tours and the book “Come On, People: On the Path from Victims to Victors” is the corrosive effect of irresponsibility.
.. He inflicted this trauma at least sixty times over.
.. There is no accounting for the mechanisms of deflection or rationalization that allowed him to behave in this way while simultaneously denouncing others for far smaller concerns, like what they choose to name their children.
He might not ever do what he has demanded of so many others—take responsibility—but he can no longer avoid being held responsible.