In an essay for Slate, the great Dahlia Lithwick got right to the heart of what makes the Brett Kavanaugh Foregone Conclusion Hearings so distasteful and weird, and captures the wooziness of this terrible and tacky and terminal moment.
…Republicans spent the first day of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings telling us that nothing that’s happening in here has anything to do with the fact that Donald Trump is the president. None of the concern around this Supreme Court seat has anything to do with the fact that the president himself is under investigation for corruption and campaign finance violations, or that his personal lawyer swore under oath that Trump instructed him to commit crimes, or that a foreign power is currently interfering with our election systems. All of that is about a different thing. This hearing is about something stable and immutable and good. And anyone who implies that anything is abnormal is a hysteric or an opportunist or an attention-seeker.
It is a bizarre and grotesque spectacle, but it isn’t actually disconnected from what is happening with the Presidency (and Lithwick isn’t saying it is; she’s saying the GOP is pretending it is). While the spectacle of a disintegrating and lunatic Presidency seems to be happening on a separate track than the forced normalcy of the Supreme Court hearing, with its mawkish personal statements and routine elisions of important questions, they are really rolling together on one line: the wobbling, broken-down, clacking-toward-catastrophe roller coaster of our democracy.
The horrible NYTimes op-ed about the internal resistance is part of this disintegration. It’s bullshit at best, and just as anti-democratic as Trump at worst, even while it blares its self-serving committment to democracy.
After all, if you really believe that the President is dangerously unfit, that he makes “half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions”, that he is ” is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making”, that the “root of the problem is the president’s amorality”, the result of which is that “the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic”, then I don’t know: fucking do something.
Resign in a public spectacle. Testify before Congress. Put yourself on the damn chopping block. But working for a President who daily gets on the squawkbox and undermines our democracy, cries “TREASON” to his hordes about anyone who looks at him crosswise, and who literally has the power to destroy the world in his hand, isn’t heroic. It’s enabling.
We see the real heart of the editorial in the lines where it praises itself (using the term “unsung heros” to describe the author and other internal resistors) for “effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military.” This is acheived, they say, in spite of the President. The author also somehow bemoans the “ceaseless negative coverage” (of a President lacking and first principles) and an “opposition hell-bent on his downfall” (“his” referring to a President that acts in a manner “detrimental to the health of our Republic”).
This whole op-ed is laying the groundwork for Trump not being Republican enough. It praises turning regulatory power over to the corporations that are being regulated and raiding the economy to help the rich get richer, and damns Trump for not being consistent enough in these things. And while it mentions that Trump is anti-democratic, it doesn’t mention at all things like voter suppression, gerrymandering, or blocking the ability of our states to protect their electoral systems from Russian interference.
And by god, it certainly doesn’t mention the constant race-baiting, xenophobia, and self-serving divisiveness on which this President, and the GOP as a whole, thrives.
That’s because the author doesn’t care about these things. They care not about protecting America from Trump, but about protecting GOP authoritarian ideology from a guy too stupid and reckless to keep it up. They worry about Trump giving away the game.
Because a President who is too stupid and amoral and reckless that he has to be shielded from responsibility by his aides should not be allowed to make lifetime appointments to any court. A President who can be fooled, as per Woodward’s book, by hiding documents from him, shouldn’t be in control of the military. He shouldn’t be allowed to impose his will on how elections happen. He shouldn’t be making any foreign policy decisions.
But he is allowed to. The Republican Party is dedicated to preserving minority dominance through a stranglehold on the courts and by ruthlessly suppressing votes and increasing both democratic and economic inequality. The nonsense Kavanaugh hearings are in a continuum with that.
Republicans, captured entirely by western extraction interests, anti-government paranoia, and the American apartheid state, are trying to pretend the only thing abnormal about the Kavanaugh hearings are that people are mad. They throw up their hands and pretend it is uncivil to point out that a man with a minority of votes, aided by intense voter suppression and collusion with a foreign power, has been able to appoint two lifelong conservative operatives to the Supreme Court, one through a seat that was entirely stolen from Barack Obama in a complete electoral nullification. They think it is a ridiculous affront to our whole beautiful system that women are mad a right-wing flack is going to essentially overturn Roe, all because of a man who is considered an idiot child even by his closest companions.
This isn’t just hypocrisy. They are committed to the project of ensuring minority rule, because there is no actual commitment to democracy. And that’s what’s scary. They want to make this normal. They’re trying to make it seem like everything is ok. They’re standing ramrod still while the ground fractures and shatters, while great scalding geysers are unleashed and the steady stolid road under your feet turns liquifies sickeningly.
They want this madness and violence and cruelty and subversion to seem normal until, suddenly, it is.