Republicans push to confirm Kavanaugh amid fears it will come at a political cost

Already burdened by an unpopular president and an energized Democratic electorate, the male-dominated GOP is now facing a torrent of scrutiny about how it is handling Kavanaugh’s accuser and whether the party’s push to install him on the high court by next week could come at a steep political cost with women and the independent voters who are the keystone for congressional majorities.

.. Flake lashed out at the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., for appearing to mock the allegations against his father’s nominee on social media, an example of how many Republicans are straining to both firmly support Kavanaugh and not seem hostile to Christine Blasey Ford

.. As GOP senators implored Ford to appear before the committee, there was a range in the tone of statements about her, veering from the flippant — “I’ll listen to the lady, but we’re going to bring this to a close,” Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said this week — to the encouraging.

.. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) continued Wednesday to take command of the Republican response to Ford, refusing to budge on his plans for the Monday hearing and dismissing the request from Ford’s lawyers for additional investigation by the FBI.

.. Republican campaign veterans said the GOP’s reliance on Grassley — a sharp-tongued, 85-year-old conservative who has been in Congress since 1975 — as its point person brings complications as voters begin to pay closer attention

.. Supreme Court nominations have become TV shows. And if your cast is mostly older, white Republican male senators, you’re going to have issues in that environment.”

.. rising concerns about how the Kavanaugh issue is beginning to overshadow the Republican campaign touting the GOP-authored tax law and economic progress

.. several top GOP lawmakers have told colleagues that they hope Ford declines to show up for the hearing even as they issue statements urging her to do so

.. Republicans are walking a tightrope in defending Kavanaugh without reinforcing the public perception that the party and president are unwilling to hold members of their party accountable for alleged sexual misconduct against women, including Trump and former U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore

Every man should be worried. At least, I’m worried.

“If somebody can be brought down by accusations like this, then you, me, every man certainly should be worried.”
— A lawyer close to the White House, speaking to Politico

.. If, apparently, a single alleged assault at a single party decades ago is to be frowned upon, then no man is safe, right?

.. What’s next? You can’t harass a colleague and serve on the Supreme Court? You can’t pick up high schoolers outside custody hearings and serve in the Senate? You can’t have a meat locker full of female femurs and expect to breeze through your confirmation as interior secretary?

.. How are we going to fill our offices if this is the new rule? I bet you will say I cannot shout at women as they pass on the street before dragging them to a concrete bunker and then still expect to become governor! What next? I’m supposed to make sure everyone I have sex with is willing?

If suddenly, as a country, we decide that violently attempting to assault someone is, like, bad, then that knocks out 98, maybe 99 percent of men, just going off the locker-room talk I’ve heard.

Look, which of us is 100 percent certain all his sexual encounters are consensual? That isn’t most people’s baseline, surely? You’re telling me I am supposed to encounter dozens, hundreds, thousands of women in my life, some drunk and some sober and some with really good legs and just … not assault any of them?

.. there ought to be some kind of punch card — say, if you treat 65 women with the respect and dignity you would accord any man, you are entitled to one freebie.

.. I mean, it’s not as though they’re people, are they? At the moment of conception, yes, but then they come out Daughters, not people! They grow into objects; some become Wives or Mothers, others Hags or Crones. Then they die! If they were people, we would not expect dominion over their bodies, surely; if they were people, we would not feel entitled to their smiles. If they were people, I could read a novel with a female protagonist and not be instantly confused and alarmed.

.. They are to be put on pedestals, as John Kelly urges, or groped, as the president urges. They are impervious to cold, capable of wearing a bikini on the most frigid day to please us; they can run great distances in heels without discomfort; they were created for us from a rib and designed as our companion. If they have wants of their own, there is really no way of knowing.

.. It would just be too terrible if they were people. Then you could not harm them with impunity. Then if you made a mistake (Boys will be boys), you would have harmed a person. Then something else would be at stake in addition to your career, and that cannot be.

.. Besides, if this is wrong, if you have to go through life inconveniently believing that the other half of the world is made of people, too, then what will boys do for innocent amusement? Who among us was not once 17 and partook in a little roughhousing? How were we to know there was — purportedly! — a person in there? Who cannot, in retrospect, be accused of something dreadful? This isn’t just me, I hope.

No, if this is the rule, no man is safe. Not the man who shouts at you as you walk down the sidewalk, or grabs you, or puts something in your drink. As all men do, I think.

.. If assault renders a man unfit to serve on the Supreme Court, then how are we to discern the Founders’ intent? I mean, Jefferson, hello? And what is going to become of the presidency? Who wants to live in that world?

Every man should be worried. If boys cannot be boys, then how can boys be men who rise to the highest offices in the land? If this stops being something you can get away with, then will anyone still be above the law?

Every man should be worried.

At least, I’m worried.

What the man accused of helping Kavanaugh assault a woman wrote about female sexuality

In two memoirs, Judge depicted his high school as a nest of debauchery where students attended “masturbation class,” “lusted after girls” from nearby Catholic schools and drank themselves into stupors at parties. He has since renounced that lifestyle and refashioned himself as a conservative moralist — albeit one who has written about “the wonderful beauty of uncontrollable male passion.”

.. He was caption editor for his yearbook, which included lines like “Ebony and Ivory” beneath a photo of a white and a black student, and “Do these guys beat their wives?” beneath a group photo of several boys.

.. Judge never wrote about any sexual violence at those parties, nor did he mention Kavanaugh attending any. But Judge’s 1997 memoir, “Wasted,” references a “Bart O’Kavanaugh” character who passes out drunk and throws up in a car.

.. Judge has written dozens of columns in the decades since, including several for this newspaper. Femininity, masculinity and sexuality are perennial themes. He has written that safety razors are too feminine, that former president Barack Obama is practically a woman, and that gay men have infiltrated the priesthood.

.. He has also written repeatedly about his thoughts on sexual violence, which might make him an interesting character witness if Ford’s accusations against Kavanaugh result in a prolonged public investigation.

.. In general, Judge has been unsparing of men accused of assault, including the conservative Senate candidate Roy Moore, and his condemnation of male aggression sometimes bleeds into critiques on women’s behavior, as when he wrote last year for Acculturated:

“There’s never any excuse to rape, a crime that I think is almost akin to murder because the rapist kills a part of the human soul. And yet what women wear and their body language also send signals about their sexuality.”

Two years earlier, in an ode to “sexy” pulp novels, Judge lamented “social justice warriors” who confuse rape with innocent demonstrations of masculinity. He wrote then of “an ambiguous middle ground, where the woman seems interested and indicates, whether verbally or not, that the man needs to prove himself to her.”

“If that man is any kind of man, he’ll allow himself to feel the awesome power, the wonderful beauty, of uncontrollable male passion,” Judge continued. To illustrate his point, he linked to a scene from the 1981 film “Body Heat,” in which the hero forcibly breaks into a woman’s home, and is rewarded with a kiss.