The Great Favor Kavanaugh Has Done For Women And The Political System

Painful. Disappointing. Disillusioning.

For many women, Brett Kavanaugh’s belligerent testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee was heart breaking. So was seeing senators defend him, and denigrate Christine Blasey Ford’s brave story of alleged sexual abuse.

As hard as it is to believe, Kavanaugh has done a great favor for women, and the American political system. And we are lucky that it has taken place before the mid-term elections.

Women have found out who their allies are, as well as their doubters. It’s clear to see who values power above ethics. Who would rather be a part of a club of the power hungry than represent their voters.

We no longer need wonder who to trust. Those who are trustworthy are showing us who they are. Those who are not also have done so. We needn’t feel resentful at being double crossed.

It’s all out in the open, or will be after the Senate votes on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

We’ve always known that the male hierarchy was in power. Now, we know how much it wants to cling to power.

So much, that it will elevate a whining, partisan 53-year-old who apparently did not hesitate to lie before a Senate committee, and whose greatest allegiance seems to be to beer.

For these public officials, it is no longer possible to skate behind a cloak of support for women or project honor among thieves, saying one thing in one context, but acting in an entirely different one.

That was never made so clear as on Friday morning, when Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake announced he would vote to send Kavanaugh’s nomination to the floor. Soon after, he was confronted by two women as he entered a Senate elevator.

And they let him have it.

Flake has long fashioned himself as a good guy, a Mr. Rogers of Republican politics. He made a jovial appearance on public radio’s Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me a few years ago that won approving applause from a audibly left-leaning Phoenix audience.

Ever since Donald Trump became president, Flake has passed himself as an allay of those who oppose the president’s self-promoting, self-enriching practices.

And yet, when it has come to acting on his words, Flake has essentially done nothing, as the Phoenix New Times points out.

“Flake’s denouncement is unsurprising. Just as unsurprising: His moral indignation only goes so far as doing exactly what the Republican establishment wants him to do,” Steven Hsein wrote.

Flake was the subject of some late drama, when he joined other Republicans in sending Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate. He said he wanted a deal in which the nomination vote would be delayed for a week in order to allow an FBI investigation.

But the deal is up to Senate leaders. And since the Republicans wouldn’t hold a hearing on Merrick Garland’s nomination by President Obama, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they just push through the vote regardless of Flake’s anguish.

There is also a spotlight on Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who has not revealed how she will vote on Kavanaugh. On Friday, she again insisted she has not made up her mind.

I suspect that she has, and that she is waiting to reveal it until she is on the Senate floor, where she will be surrounded by like-minded senators and have the protection of sergeants at arms if anything gets too unpleasant for her.

When that confirmation vote takes place, Flake, Collins and every other senator will have nowhere to hide (unless they take a coward’s way out and are absent on the day).

I keep thinking about John McCain’s funeral, and how the late Republican senator’s service was a moment for decent people in Washington to declare their allegiance to duty, patriotism and working on the side of the voters.

How quickly that has all fallen apart. This past week, George W. Bush, who eulogized McCain, has made calls drumming up support for Kavanaugh.

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who gave a Bible reading at McCain’s funeral, was one of the most outspoken supporters of Kavanaugh and fervent critics of Ford.

(Right now, I really miss Meghan McCain, who spoke in such an impassioned way about her father’s values, and against those like Trump who have turned politics into such a personal matter.

I know she is taking some time away from The View in order to heal from her father’s loss, but it would be so useful to hear how she feels in the wake of the Kavanaugh hearings.)

In any case, we have Kavanaugh to bizarrely thank for all of this. No one need go to the polls in November with any doubt in their mind.

Now, the question becomes: what do decent people do with this understanding? And how can we use this information to protect ourselves, and change the way the political power structure has become?

Micheline Maynard is a journalist and author who tweets @mickimaynard

Journalist. Author. The Check blog on NPR and NYT alum

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