David French has an excellent article posted today in National Review detailing the unseriousness of Democrat opposition to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The teaser at the top reads:
The sordid spectacle that opened Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings put the lie to left-wing laments about the decline of civility in American politics.
I agree with the basic premise that civility is in decline—one might legitimately call it a “collapse”—and that we are at a point where reasoned discourse is virtually at an end.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing has only proved to highlight that lack of civility. And when civility does on occasion peek through the tortured screams of protesters and the antagonistic attitude of Democrat senators, it is like that brief breath of fresh air we all crave.
French continues: “We hear a lot about norms these days. We live in a time when alleged pre-existing norms of decency, civility, and respect are being cast aside for the sake of ‘winning.’ The ends justify the means, and a dignified loser is just that: a loser.”
It didn’t matter who Trump nominated for the Court; the decision was made beforehand to call that person a hatemonger, racist, toady, etc., etc. Yet, as French notes, that’s hardly the Kavanaugh persona:
Before I continue, let me remind you that Kavanaugh is the opposite of a norm-violating, civility-straining, Trumpist jurist. He is the very definition of a GOP-establishment lawyer. He would be a front-runner for a SCOTUS nomination in any Republican administration. He is not only solidly within the mainstream of originalist legal thought, he’s so respected across the aisle that Elena Kagan hired him to teach at Harvard Law School.
In other words, throughout his career, Kavanaugh has helped maintain norms rather than violating them. He’s the living embodiment of the kind of person—and the kind of politics—that Democrats now claim they miss in the age of Trump.
Right from the start of the hearing, Democrat senators demanded that the hearing be adjourned. Why? Well, they needed to see more documents. You know, documents that they weren’t really going to read with an open mind anyway. French points out the absurdity and hypocrisy of the claim:
The pretext was one of those eye-glazing Washington debates over document production, in which senators who’d already vowed weeks ago to vote against Kavanaugh claimed they couldn’t possibly evaluate him properly based on the hundreds of thousands of pages they already had (including more than a decade of judicial opinions). They instead absolutely needed every scrap of paper he ever touched, so . . . what? They could cast a more emphatic no vote?
I think one cartoonist captured the Democrat approach rather convincingly:
And then the craziness of the Lunatic Left surfaced with the outraged cry that a woman lawyer, Zina Bash, sitting behind Kavanaugh was flashing a “white power sign,” which, if you look closely was simply her hand resting on her arm and her finger touching her thumb. Oh, the horror!
French clears up this phony charge:
For those wondering, Zina Bash is one of the more respected and talented young conservative lawyers in Washington. As her husband—John Bash, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas—explained on Twitter, she’s Mexican on her mother’s side and Jewish on her father’s side. Her paternal grandparents are Holocaust survivors, and she was born in Mexico. So, no, it’s not remotely credible to believe she was flashing a white-power symbol.
Those facts didn’t deter the online left, though. The claims kept spreading until they turned into an instant left-wing version of the legendary Pizzagate conspiracy—unsupported by any meaningful facts yet fervently believed by thousands.
As if that wasn’t sufficient, there was the father of a student killed at Parkland who showed up determined to do his part to derail Kavanaugh. How do we know? He tweeted about it beforehand.
Then there was Snubgate, the claim that Kavanaugh deliberately refused to shake the hand of a father of a slain Parkland teen. The man, Fred Guttenberg, approached Kavanaugh in the scrum during a break in the hearing, he stuck out his hand, security approached, and Kavanaugh turned away. . . .
Almost instantly, this momentary encounter was transformed into an intentional, crass snub of a grieving father by an evil, uncaring judge. Guttenberg went on CNN and made an unsubstantiated claim that Kavanaugh not only intentionally snubbed him, but personally asked that he be removed.
A complete stranger walked up to the judge in a hearing disrupted by multiple protesters, security moved in immediately, and Kavanaugh was supposed to do . . . what, exactly? Push aside security to engage with the man, despite not knowing who he is?
The angry activists in the room, who apparently have their own PR firm currently fishing for media interviews for those who created shrill outbursts, were particularly abhorrent. French notes the double standard:
Let’s be clear, had angry Tea Party protesters caused the same scale of disruption at a Democratic hearing, news outlets would be shaking their heads at the dangerous lack of respect for a dignified nominee. Instead, all too many folks think this is what democracy looks like: serial attempts to exercise an incoherent, screaming heckler’s veto.
I’m not going to conclude that we are living in the most dangerous time in our republic’s history. As a historian, I note the polarized 1850s that led to the Civil War. However, I am seeing the same kind of vitriol, unwillingness to speak to the other side civilly, and outright hostility that marked the 1850s.
We should be concerned. Very concerned.