It Ain’t 1991 Any More

Public hearings Monday. The bobbleheads on the news already are comparing the current situation to Anita Hill’s testimony in 1991. But it ain’t 1991 any more. And a big reason Republicans are expected to lose the House in the midterms is that the gender gap is at an all-time high.

This week [August], we got a poll showing that same 24-point gender gap in the only “national” election of 2018: the national popular vote for the U.S. House. A YouGov survey found that male voters preferred the Republican candidate by 9 percentage points, while female voters preferred the Democratic candidate by 15 points. It was a bit of an outlier, but not egregiously so: A RealClearPolitics-style average1 of generic-ballot polls taken in the past two weeks reveals a gender gap of 16 points, and the two highest-quality polls from that period — Quinnipiac and Marist — each showed a gap even bigger than 24 points. If YouGov, Quinnipiac or Marist is correct, then just like 2016 broke a gender-gap record for presidential races, 2018 will have the widest gender gap in congressional elections since at least 1993.

1993? or 1992?

In 1992, 24 women were elected as new members to the House and four to the Senate, more than in any previous decade. Many cited anger over Hill’s treatment during the Thomas hearings as a reason for running.

And that was a long, long time ago, and we’ve had that #MeToo thing going on lately. Democrats don’t dare help cover Kavanaugh’s ass the way they made excuses for Clarence Thomas back then. And women are watching.

To sum up our current situation, a president who is on tape bragging about his ability to sexually assault women with impunity, who has been credibly accused of sexual misconduct by a dozen women, who emphatically supported accused abusers such as Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly and Roy Moore, and who promised that he would appoint only Supreme Court justices who would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, has appointed a man who is now accused of an attempted rape. Virtually the entire Republican Party is coming to that man’s defense, a defense that promises to include relentless attacks on the accuser. Just like what every other woman in her position goes through.

As Bloomberg News reports, the Trump team will try to discredit Ford’s credibility by raising questions about why she didn’t tell anybody at the incident at the time it happened. But every woman in the world knows why that 15-year-old girl didn’t tell anybody about it: because it would turn her trauma into an absolute nightmare. She’d be the one blamed. She’d be disbelieved, she’d be ostracized, she’d be called a liar and a slut and a hundred other names. Every woman knows that because every woman has seen it happen.

Orrin Hatch, who obviously didn’t get the sensitivity memo, has already said the allegations are not credible and the accuser is “mixed up.” And, of course, Trump Junior has been his trademark creepy self.

The choice for Republicans is to behave like the troglodyte jerks they are and treat Professor Ford as a nut and a slut.  Or, they can try to project “sensitivity.” But if they vote to confirm Kavanaugh they won’t be fooling anybody. Paul Waldman continues:

Not all of them are saying that; many Republicans are worried about how this controversy will make them look, and they’re trying to step carefully. But if they’re going to insist that Kavanaugh be confirmed, as they will, that means they’re saying one of three things:

They can say Ford is a liar who concocted this story for political effect, falsified therapist’s notes from 2012 to corroborate her story, pretended to be unwilling to go public until journalists discovered her identity, and has volunteered to withstand the tsunami of hate and death threats guaranteed to come her way on the chance that she could torpedo Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Sensitivity is as sensitivity does. See also Women Are Being Reminded of What Republicans Think of Them.


Can Kavanaugh Be Stopped?

There’s a lot that’s very hinky about Brett Kavanaugh besides his association with right-wing politics. See, for example, The Many Mysteries of Brett Kavanaugh’s Finances. The man has been living way beyond his apparent means.

Before President Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, he had a lot of debt. In May 2017, he reported owing between $60,004 and $200,000 on three credit cards and a loan against his retirement account. By the time Trump nominated him to the high court in July 2018, those debts had vanished. Overall, his reported income and assets didn’t seem sufficient to pay off all that debt while maintaining his upper-class lifestyle: an expensive house in an exclusive suburban neighborhood, two kids in a $10,500-a-year private school, and a membership in a posh country club reported to charge $92,000 in initiation fees. His financial disclosure forms have raised more questions than they’ve answered, leading to speculation about whether he’s had a private benefactor and what sorts of conflicts that relationship might entail.

There is also copious evidence that Kavanaugh lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee during the hearings on his nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 2004 and 2006. See The Evidence Is Clear: Brett Kavanaugh Lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee. It took two sets of hearings because Kavanaugh was obviously, um, problematic even then.

And then there’s the little matter of a large trove of Kavanaugh documents that Republicans have managed to keep hidden from view. The Republicans have been steamrolling Kavanaugh’s hearings with all possible speed so that no one gets a chance to look at him real hard.

But now he’s been accused of sexual assault, and the accuser has gone public. Will that slow down the nomination? Greg Sargent writes,

Now that Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser has gone public with her story that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when both were teenagers, the White House and Republicans have signaled that they plan to aggressively undercut her credibility, a strategy that some conservatives have already launched.

You would think that this alone should obligate Republicans to invite Christine Blasey Ford to testify, publicly, before the Senate Judiciary Committee — before there is any vote. This would afford her a chance to defend her own recollections and character — that is, in direct, face-to-face response to the hostile questioning and extreme skepticism of Republicans, which they would no doubt throw at her if this does happen.

Bloomberg reports this morning that President Trump’s team plans to “try to discredit the charges for surfacing late in the confirmation process and to question the credibility of the accuser because she didn’t tell anybody about the incident at the time.”

This is getting old. How many times does it have to be explained why victims of sexual assault often keep quiet? It’s well known that sexual assault victims keep silent more often than not.

Meanwhile, Judiciary Committee Republicans put out a statement claiming that the “disturbing” timing of the allegations raises “questions about Democrats’ tactics and motives,” suggesting Ford’s story is the reflection of Democratic dirty tricks. Some prominent conservatives suggested that the charges are orchestrated by Democrats.

But let’s look at the accuser:

Christine Margaret Blasey Ford (born c. 1967) is an American psychologist. She is a professor in clinical psychology at Palo Alto University. Her work specializes in designing statistical models for research projects. She has been a visiting professor at Pepperdine University, a research psychologist for Stanford’s Department of Psychiatry, and a professor at the Stanford School of MedicineCollaborative Clinical Psychology Program.

This is not some nobody who was discovered by dragging hundred-dollar bills through a trailer park. This is a serious professional with a serious career who is knowingly walking into a maelstrom of ridicule and character assassination from which her personal and professional life will likely never recover.

Now the Democrats and a handful of Republicans are calliing for delaying the committee vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination until Professor Ford can be heard. She is willing to testify publicly. Kavanaugh is willing to lie about it testify publicly. I think if this steamroller can be slowed down, there’s a faint hope it can be stopped before it’s too late.