Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation has been assured, a fait accomplit, but the casualty of the ongoing divide, the deepening canyon with its genesis in burgeoning disagreements, proven Russian interference, criminal collusion leading to the arcane hegemony and barbaric reach of the Trump Administration, our collective ignoring of the remnants of sense and sensibility, the withered American eagle embryos in their weathered shells, is truth—our American truth, that which we can hold as self-evident, so fundamental as to be enshrined in the very Declaration of Independence that is at the basis of our Constitution.
I am speaking of the truth that does not require proof, that does not require corroboration, buzz word of the hour in the Senate, that is dying a long, slow death in our country and that we have at the helm a Liar in Chief who has us in the shoals, where competing narratives furnished with lies and the detritus, the wreckage of partisan grandstanding emerge shrouded in an illusory veil that only makes them seem true when in fact they are semblances that strain credulity.
We now see via the masterful manipulation of McConnell and company coupled with the naivete of Susan Collins, the confirmation to the Supreme Court of someone whose rage became the narrative of self-defense, whose record became a story of qualification, and above all, that the inherently credible testimony of Christine Ford could not be allowed to be self-evident by virtue of its recitation of fact and detail, to be the kind of truth with which we assert that we live on a round planet that travels around the sun, that we live and that we die.
How did these things happen? To comprehend this travesty of an exegesis, we must explore those predilections that form opinions which become belief and truth as relative, as subjective.
Since I began this post Kavanaugh’s confirmation has been made final with the votes of Susan Collins and Joe Manchin.
Using multiple Kavanaugh opinions that fit the narrative he has put forward of being a “Constitutionalist,” that he assured her that Roe v Wade is settled law, et cetera, asserting that she listened to him oh so intently, and that he was oh so sincere, Collins could not obfuscate that now Justice Kavanaugh disrobed in front of the country in last week’s hearing revealing an angry and self-pitying little boy the American Bar Association doesn’t want on the bench together with scores of lawyers, legal scholars and law professors..
Collins read from his decisions, those that shore up her argument, lofty opinions in legalese revelatory of a superficial scholarship that Kavanaugh the man may think he uses in his jurisprudence but that we know now he will never live up to. No mention of his ruling that denied a migrant girl an abortion until she was carrying a child rather than a fetus in a mealy-mouthed opinion that she would not have necessary support, when to carry to term would have undone and stranded her. Thankfully, his was the minority opinion.
Astoundingly, Collins ignored Kavanaugh’s rageful behavior when he was asked if he was a blackout drinker, and never mentioned that the sham investigation in which dozens of witnesses who could corroborate Ford’s testimony in one way or another were prevented from testifying by Trump’s lackeys, although she did assert, seeming to reveal some points in the secret report, that those interviewed had no memory or knowledge of the events Ford described, as though these were the ultimate authorities on the matter.
Collins’ litmus for confirmation: that Kavanaugh was “more likely than not” to be innocent, a calculation needed in order to “preserve our very Constitution,” to be given a break under her test of “the presumption of innocence” even though this was not a criminal trial. She not once stated what is obvious to the discerning American and constitutes a self-evident truth on the order of that which lifts off from its crag and casts its prescient eye over our half of this continent:
That Collins has it backwards. It is more likely than not to be true that Christine Ford was victimized by the Judge who revealed in what has been called his “partisan, self-pitying screed,” that he is more likely than not to be capable of such a thing as lying. The testimony under oath of a woman who has taken a lie detector test, doesn’t have a dog in the fight, who remembers the specifics of the attack, the layout of a house in Maryland where she went to a party at the age of 15, that he was “grinding against her, having trouble because she was wearing a one-piece bathing suit,” that his friend Mark Judge was present, that both were drunk and laughing, that she was 100 percent sure it was Kavanaugh, that he put his hand over her mouth and she was afraid he would kill her, rises to a further litmus test—that of credibility, integrity.
Moreover, that there was such a party around that time was documented by the Judge’s own calendar. And more than the calendar, that even sworn to tell the truth, Kavanaugh lied in his many distortions and shocked the conscience of thinking and empathetic Americans with his rage and willingness to go on the attack as he did regarding Senator Amy Klobuchar ‘s questioning.
It has been Christine Ford’s testimony that has the ring of veracity so that a vote to confirm Kavanaugh became a slap in the face for victims of sexual assault. What we victims know is that when we tell our stories, when we disclose our trauma with whose details, Ford, a teaching psychologist, explains that are most traumatic burned into our brains, anyone listening to us may rely upon our veracity and integrity.
In contrast, what the Republicans ignore becomes central to their narrative; it is the very nature of traumatic memory, a tool of the brain’s survival, for the trauma story to be preserved but some of the details such as the weather, how one got home, and so on, to be reabsorbed into the hippocampus.
So it is that I have a sequence of poems, one of which is titled “clue,” exploring sexual abuse at the hands of my father, that turn on elements of memory which recollection stories. Remembering can become reliving, so that it is indelibly brave and credible for a victim/a survivor, to remember and to testify.
And so it is that the Kavanaugh Affair makes a good lens for how it is that discourse meant to illuminate the truth morphs into competing narratives dead-ending, in this case, in an unworthy man’s confirmation by default.
No one listened to last week’s hearing thinking that a Brett Kavanaugh would emerge whose behavior engendered carte blanche doubt over his fundamental integrity as a person. No one could imagine that a picture of a loutish mean drunk with notations in a high school annual together with Christine Ford’s testimony would give rise for millions of people, many of them women, to a reasonable doubt in the public’s mind as to whether Kavanaugh was lying under oath, as to whether he was a black-out drunk or whether he had attempted to rape her with his fellow drunk Mark Judge helping in one way or another.
So it is that once more the American story in which truth is held as something sacred has degenerated into converging and fundamentally tragic politicized debacles, unfolding and degrading with the wearying sensationalist and libelous myth-making we read in the National Enquirer.
This week saw the depth of Donald Trump’s dissembling crowned by the lengths to which he would go to turn the tide of public opinion: id est: to mock the victim. The groundwork was laid when the NYT published its exhaustive piece on how Trump’s lifetime of fraud is really how he made his money. He who captured votes from those who believed his was an American story of the rags to riches self-made man lied; gold-plaited reporting reveals that he has been running a con for decades by scams such as inflating the cost of appliances for rent-controlled housing to justify raising the rent, diverting profits into shell corporations and otherwise cooking the books.
Hence the need for multiple red herrings. The more disturbing towering tale that departs from the truth is more a cluster, a clutch of eggs housing withered embryonic eagles; truth dies a dozen deaths at once, from the cold winds of abandonment of anything like a commitment to what is real and actual, verifiable. It is the series of lies not told by our accuser or our perpetrator, but more by those whose agenda is not any clear-eyed pursuit of truth and clarity–instead, utter devotion to its obfuscation.
To illustrate: DJT began the week by expressing something like admiration for Dr. Christine Ford’s testimony regarding her assertion that Judge Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape her when she was in high school.
By midweek after the WaPo story, we saw the coalescing of the fable emanating from the White House, those partisan assertions originating from Mitch McConnell’s intermittent complaints and today, what Republicans have said as they peruse the report from the FBI “limited” investigation into the issue of Kavanaugh’s credibility in the wake of the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing earlier this week.
The President tweeted that the “report,” incomplete, with fundamental issues off limits and a witness list narrowed until it satisfied the White House , did not “corroborate” Ford’s allegations.
Suddenly that word, “corroboration,” was on every Republican’s tongue. The new story, the new theft and reshaping of fact: the FBI investigation, Corker bloviated with relief, did not corroborate a clear-headed victim’s testimony.
McConnell has been the zen master of the new narrative; every day he has made scathing pronouncements about how Christine Ford is a tool of the Democrats designed to filibuster the appointment until Trump is out of office. These pronouncements repeated in the manner in which opinion begins to morph into fact began with Kavanaugh’s pronouncements that the hearings were a “circus,” “what goes around comes around…”
But insidiously incorporated into the notion that interviewees who state they cannot remember or are unaware of is the idea that not remembering equals something not being a matter of fact. Nothing in the report corroborated her testimony.
We must ask: was there anything in the report that disproved Ford’s narrative of attempted rape that has haunted her for a lifetime?
Who then, proved her wrong?
Lindsay Graham bellowing in the bowels of the Senate office building to reporters that Kavanaugh’s detractors should “put him in water and see if he floats,” a reference to the Salem Witch Trials, was yet another of his personal shots at Democratic senators in the Administration-led story that a hearing to establish the Judge’s credibility and integrity was in fact a partisan smear campaign, of hidden agendas on the part of the Dems, of motives purely political and in fact having nothing to do with the truth.
What can we corroborate now, in the opposite emerging narrative? How can we re-bend language toward an objective truth?
That the Administration excluded from investigation anecdotal and corroborating leads in which 40 people have tried to contact the FBI to no avail.
That trained investigators at the behest of the Senate were not permitted to question Ford or Graham.
That the FBI only had four days to complete its investigation.
We are likely to learn that the list was limited by choosing those who could not remember, whose common denominator this is.
The GOP story goes that anyone wrongly accused would of course be angry, that all high school boys are rowdy and rape-prone; this outrageous premise rests in the contagion of lies that begins with Trump, a self-disclosed perpetrator, in what is called his era, and has been perpetruated by the shrewd Majority Leader, who understands how you change a story to fit an agenda.
The agenda of the Senate Republicans has been to put on the Supreme Court the nominee most likely to give the president a pass when it comes to what the Mueller investigation concludes.
That is the real story. Together with this: above all else, don’t talk about the real story and the real truth that explains Brett Kavanaugh the man.
And here is my story; he is an alcoholic in denial who became outraged at any questions about black-out drinking which were asked because alcoholics can commit crimes in blackouts that they later do not remember. His temperament is a-judicial and atypical for a sitting judge because he is severely ill and in need of recovery.
lie to themselves and when confronted lash out however they can.
That is what we saw Brett Kavanaugh do. This is what he cannot afford to face or confess or in his view, all will be lost.
This appears to be lost and/or so discomfiting to Lindsey Graham and others that one wonders what their truths are. Does Lindsay knock back four or five Scotch and waters every night?
Senator Graham in a rage seems entirely capable to me of hitting a woman and lying about it.
When Trump says he’s never had a drop of alcohol, is he lying? Angry lying is not defense of one’s honor.
It’s hard to get at the truth, to tell the true American story here, which has brought the eagle of American integrity to the brink of freefall from the crag in sheer desperate depression.
The empirical truth—that which is furnished by fact– is that at this moment our country is in the hands of power-crazed liars unfit for office. It is a “liar’s club,” to borrow Mary Karr’s title for her saga of family alcoholism.
It is a travesty, because truth and justice will be its casualties. An innocent Kavanaugh would have kept his cool; everything is on the line in a story the integrity, dignity and veracity of which matters to us all.
Nowhere are the distortions of the national narrative that unites more evident than in attack ads as the 2018 election nears. It is as though we have come to the point where if a person asserts something it is true; people talk so readily about their “truth,” and “speaking truth to power.”
our forbears, the fundamental truth resided in God and the Christian story. It was, at least, something to rely upon, that prompted my great grandmother to have etched on her gravestone, “Thrilled by all that that death shall give, I shall lie down.” Truth as belief led my earlier forbears to the Colonies. They believed in a better life, a better world; they had deep convictions leading to beliefs they took as fact. That such a world was attainable and therefore true.
What of that world that was imbued by the Constitution with nobility, hope, foresight, scholarship. What of integrity? The Republicans confirmed an insincere, manipulative man who stood self-revealed before the nation. Two people came before us and one was believed who was a liar and she who did not lie was dishonored because her story lacked “corroboration.”
My mother eagle hangs her head. My flag is at half mast. I am heavy-hearted; yet, why should I or anyone be surprised that we live in a time when Liars win the day because they have the white men in power behind them and an account of an attempted rape and how the alleged perpetrator of that rape revealed himself to be capable of perpetration was discounted by alternative stories masking lies told by angry, dirty-minded men whose position matters more than courage, more than being in the most fundamental Americans of ways– champions of veracity no matter the personal cost, no matter how rid of glory and homely it becomes to declare a sexual abuse survivor credible and a nominee for the Supreme Court as one who must recuse.
Copyright Jenne R. Andrews
October 6, 2018