Monday 8 October 2018

Judgement Call

On any one or more of torture, Guantánamo Bay, mass surveillance, workers' rights, consumer protection, environmental responsibility, treaties with Native Americans, healthcare for people with pre-existing conditions (that is, people like me), the President's supposed immunity from indictment, and the President's supposed power to pardon himself, Brett Kavanaugh could easily have been blocked by enough Republicans and all Democrats, plus Bernie Sanders.

But instead, the useless Democratic Party made it about abortion, on which Kavanaugh is highly ambivalent and which is most unlikely ever to come up, about same-sex marriage, which will certainly never present itself, and about a #MeToo and #IBelieveHer story that it was impossible to prove.

As a result, even Rand Paul has felt moved to vote to confirm a nominee of such views on the War on Terror, and on the prerogatives and privileges of the Presidency. For the reasons stated, I do not agree with Joe Manchin this time. But nor do I blame him. The smug and clever-clever description of him as "too conservative for the Democratic Party and too liberal for West Virginia" has never done him any electoral harm as a Democrat in West Virginia.

It always did have enormous faults, but a new low was reached when the party of Glass and Steagall repealed Glass-Steagall. A generation later, the party that put a man on the Moon has become the party that puts a man in the ladies' room, while the eventual party of Civil Rights has regressed to being the party of the lynch mob.

I am not going to do the line about its having gone "from a chicken in every pot, to a chicken on pot", because the truth is even worse. Those who had cut their political teeth against the leaders of the own party over Vietnam went on to rampage bare-fanged across the earth in the Clinton years, clearing the ground for those who had had no principled objection to that war, but who had merely dodged the draft because they could afford to, namely George W. Bush and Donald Trump.

Still, as with Jeremy Corbyn, Brexit, the Sanders primary victory, the triumph of Trump, and the Conservative Party's loss of its overall majority, it is great fun to watch the reaction of the people who always get their own way, suddenly not getting their own way. They can only beat Marine Le Pen, the candidate of a separate country that denies the legitimacy of the state itself; either François Fillon or Jean-Luc Mélenchon would have beaten Emmanuel Macron in the second round, and Mélenchon will do so next time.

But they have given a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court of the United States to a man who is as bad as they are on torture, on Guantánamo Bay, and on mass surveillance, and who is as bad as they often are on workers' rights, on consumer protection, on environmental responsibility, on treaties with Native Americans, on healthcare for people with pre-existing conditions, on the President's supposed immunity from indictment, and on the President's supposed power to pardon himself. How useful those last two would have been to Bill Clinton or to Barack Obama.

The best thing that can be said is that, while the Democrats are facing 30 or 40 years of being unable to do anything even if they had wanted to, which they do not, the Republicans are facing 30 or 40 years of electoral oblivion, unable to do even the things that they did want to do. Kavanaugh would not strike down their legislation. But that is academic, because they are not going to be in a position to enact it.

Meanwhile, Kavanaugh, like Cristiano Ronaldo, ought to scorch the earth and "sue you in England". The BBC and Sky News carried Christine Blasey Ford's testimony, from a setting that it is very difficult to see would be privileged in English law. In any case, her claims have been repeated all over the Internet. As have the allegations against Ronaldo. Sue. In England.


  1. The Democrats didn't "make it about abortion"-it is about abortion. Neither Congress nor the Senate ever voted to legalise abortion.

    It was the Supreme Court that did that.

    Republican states also voted against gay marriage, but the Supreme Court imposed it on them.

    Right-wingers have been dreaming of a conservative majority on the Supreme Court for decades. Who would have thought Trump would be the one to make that dream reality?

    1. Abortion (on which Kavanaugh is deeply unsound; Trump picked him over the choices of the pro-life movement, of which neither of them has never been part) is most unlikely to come up, because the Republican Party is not really against it at all.

      Susan Collins is not remotely pro-life, and her speech expressed her confidence that Kavanaugh would uphold Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. Republican Senators gave that speech a standing ovation.

      In her words, "Opponents frequently cite then-candidate Donald Trump's campaign pledge to nominate only judges who would overturn Roe. The Republican platform for all Presidential campaigns has included this pledge since at least 1980. During this time, Presidents, Republican Presidents, have appointed Justices O'Connor, Souter, and Kennedy to the Supreme Court. These are the very three justices, Republican-president-appointed justices, who authored the Casey decision which reaffirmed Roe." Quite.

      And same-sex marriage is certain not to come up, because neither Congress nor any state legislature would ever vote to repeal that now, and Trump has been in favour of it longer than Obama or the Clintons have been. Collins's speech also expressed her confidence that Kavanaugh would uphold Obergefell v. Hodges. Say it again, a Republican standing ovation.

      All this for the Republicans to be wiped off the map for 30 or 40 years, during which the Democrats will have the perfect excuse for doing the nothing that they had always intended to do, anyway.