It has been shrewdly observed that there are really only two political parties in Washington—the Evil Party and the Stupid Party. And every once in a while we are permitted to be the gobsmacked spectators of some fresh exercise in bipartisanship, which usually entails the leaders of both parties at a press conference, hand-in-hand, announcing some gosh-awful notion, with one of the spokesmen winking at the camera and the other one blinking in the lights. You guessed it—evil and stupid.
We also need to factor in the reality of misplaced persons. Some people in the Stupid Party are just pretending—they really are evil. And some people in the Evil Party are just pretending also—they really are just stupid. So there’s that.
Then there are times when the Stupid Party just gets rolled, as happened this last week, with the introduction of yet another FBI background check. Over the course of the Kavanaugh hearings, the essential and true nature of both factions has been on full display, with the knobs apparently stuck on the settings of flashing and gaudy. That particular poo-fling carnival was enough to embarrass a superhero, a sentence crafted to go with my graphic above. The best summary of the whole fandango was provided by Sen. Kennedy of Louisiana, who called it “an intergalactic freak show.”
But Why Oh Why?
One might wonder (might not one?) how it is possible for the Evil Party to get away with such manifestly petulant tantrums. The answer is that it does not matter to them if millions of people see clean through what they are doing. The reason it does not matter to them is because it works anyway.
Why is a two-year-old willing to disgrace the family name in the aisles of Walmart, flipping out for the toy he wants? He does so because it gets him the toy. He does so because it works. The eloquence that this maneuver drew forth from Sen. Graham should be ranked with the scolding that the two-year-old’s mother gave him as she was pushing her son, and the toy he wanted, up to the cashier. To buy him the toy.
My father tells me a story from when he was a boy, of a famous baseball player, somewhat deficient in the usual ethical refinements, who used to cheat in a way that everybody in the stands saw, but which the umpire didn’t. These were the days when there was only one umpire, so when this gent was on first, and the next batter hit to the outfield, the umpire had to run out toward second base to call the play. When this happened, our friend on first, the ranking member of the judiciary committee, would skip second base and run across the pitcher’s mound straight to third. When the dust cleared, there he was on third, and no one could say anything about it. No cameras, no instant replay, no nothing. My point in bringing this up is that this fellow didn’t care that thousands in the stands saw exactly what he was doing—what he cared about was getting to third. What he cared about was the umpire not calling him on it.
And this is why Sen. Booker is content to be a walking cartoon, drawn according to the fashion of Pinky and the Brain. This is why Sen. Feinstein is content to be a censurable senator—for she knows she will not ever be a censured senator. This is why Sen. Blumenthal was willing to give Judge Kavanaugh a bracing lecture on personal integrity, when he himself has the personal integrity of a floor joist in a condemned house on the edge of a Louisiana bayou, home of about ten million leprous but still ravenous termites, mutant termites in fact, that escaped from a nearby nuclear power plant. Sometimes my metaphors run off with me, but I trust you get the idea.
We Are Represented Well
Because we always get the representation we deserve, this means that the electorate is made up of these two main factions also. You guessed it—we are talking about one constituency demanding more evil, but enough about socialism, and the other constituency demanding more stupidity—their conservatism being that philosophy that wants to drive toward the cliff at fifty mph instead of eighty.
At times the more-stupidity constituency just goes galumphing along, saying things like “he used the phrase conservative values on his brochure,” or “there is an R after his name on TV,” or “your Aunt Susie used to know his daddy. Good people.” Surely things can’t be as gonzo-nutzoid as they seem to appear on the evening news. Everything will fix itself if we just calm down and vote for Jeff Flake types. Mainstream. So remember that before Jeff Flake fulfilled the destiny that was assigned to him by his name, he really had been kind of a conservative—but the kind that has no intention of actually conserving anything.
But then there is the stupidity that reads the paragraph above and says duh. This is the soi-disant cynic who mimics the dwarves at the end of Narnia. He pretends to have seceded from the Stupid Party, while also pretending that this in no way helps the Evil Party.
“You must think we’re blooming soft in the head, that you must,” said Griffle. ‘We’ve been taken in once and now you expect us to be taken in again the next minute We’ve no more use for stories about Aslan, see!” (The Last Battle)
Now it is quite true that if Kavanaugh is not confirmed, if the Democrats get their way in this imbroglio, the Republicans will likely lose the House and the Senate in the coming mid-terms. It is also true that on one level they will deserve to lose them. A peeved electorate might ask, and might seem justified in asking, “What good is it if you control the House and the Senate when the Democrats still get whatever they pitch a fit over?”
But this really is a simpleton’s understanding of politics. When a country is divided clean down the middle, as ours is, and the Senate is divided clean down the middle, it necessarily gives undue power to the lamest members of both tribes. The fence-sitters, the mugwumps, can go this way or that way. Their voice is necessarily amplified in any close vote. This is why Flake was able to pull the stunt that he pulled. For someone to jeer and say that Flake is a Republican is really beside the point.
If an election isn’t close, it is not really possible to cheat. In a similar way, if you don’t want the RINOs to have anything to say when there is a cliffhanger vote, there are two ways to go about it. First, don’t vote for RINOs in the primaries, and don’t automatically vote for them in the general. If you do wind up voting for them, realize that you are likely to experience that betrayed feeling from time to time—as when McCain killed the repeal of Obamacare, or when Jeff the Flake did his thing. Second, do so in a manner that recognizes that the coming midterms not only need to hold off the much ballyhooed blue wave, they actually need to be a red wave. Fortunately—however unlikely this is historically—the behavior of the Democrats in these Kavanaugh hearings make it at least a possibility.
The Gang Rape of the Nominee
This next point is one I want to mention, but with the intention of developing it further at some subsequent time. A few weeks ago I occasioned some distress among the sob sisters by arguing that when a woman is promiscuous, this has a completely different effect that when a man is. Because it is not yet November, I will hasten to qualify myself. Sin is sin, and a lack of chastity in men is not to be applauded as though it were a good thing. That said, I argued that a failure of chastity is much more of a central failure for a woman than for a man. To find something comparable in a man, you would have to discover that he had run away in battle, or something like that.
The illustration I used was that of a lock that opened to a hundred keys, making it not much of a lock, and a key that opened a hundred locks, making it something of a versatile key. Again, the issue is not morality, but rather what kind of immorality. The versatile key is owned by a thief, a mountebank, a rapscallion. We do not praise him.
With this kind of distinction in mind, and with thanks to my daughter Rachel for pointing out this line of thought, I wanted to point out that part of the reason this was such a riveting episode is because we all became party to the gang rape of a respected judge. He was accused, among other things, of orchestrating gang rapes, but what this accusation amounted to was a gang rape in its own right.
When a woman is abused in that way, when she is gang-raped, what is taken from her is invaluable to her—her sense of dignity and worth is violently seized by people who do not care what they are doing. To find something comparable being done to a man, you would have to search around until you found something like the Kavanaugh hearings. For such a respected judge, for a man who self-evidently values his name and reputation the way he does, to be treated that way
Clarence Thomas famously described what happened to him as a “high-tech lynching.” This was comparable, the same kind of thing. It was a mass media, social media gang rape, and every person who tweeted out something like “I believe the women” was a participant, standing in line for their turn at him. This includes, unfortunately, not a few Christians.
And Since this is Such a Teachable Moment . . .
Allow me to ruffle a completely different set of feathers for a moment. What is being done to Brett Kavanaugh has been in fact absolutely appalling. Let no one conclude that I am in anyway trying to minimize what an atrocity this thing was, and which it remains.
Due process matters. Justice matters. Presumption of innocence matters. Centuries of jurisprudential tradition must not be ditched because a badly educated generation of Americans got themselves into a moral panic, or to use a more accurate phrase for it, got themselves into something of an immoral doodah. Apparently, when the mob outside the courtside is yelling something like social justice for all! that makes all the subsequent proceedings okay.
But there is a deeper cultural reason why we have been treated to this spectacle of one of the most respected judges in the county being given the full treatment. This could not have happened unless our respect for due process had been eroding across the board for decades—but no national outcry over it because it is being done to the little guy. I am talking about the absence of real due process in things like asset forfeitures, Kelo-like eminent domain seizures, the administrative courts of the regulative state, big data surveillance, and a bunch of other legal atrocities.
I was contented enough with the Kavanaugh nomination because I believe he will be reliably far more conservative than Anthony Kennedy. And I believe that his presence on the bench will present a serious threat to Roe, which is the issue of our time.
That said, Kavanaugh wouldn’t have been my first pick for the Court. When it comes to issues like data collection and warrantless searches of phones, he has been poor on Fourth Amendment issues.
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
He defends such things because they are needed in the fight against terrorism, or in the war on crime. Spooks and cops say they are necessary tools. The problem is that our surveillance state is not just looking at terrorists and criminals. They are looking at everybody. Not only so, but if Hillary had won the election, the thugs and miscreants on display this las week in this hearing would be running the country, and the intelligence agencies, and a bunch of other stuff. Anybody who would entrust anything of value to them because of a reflexive conservative impulse to “support the cops,” or to “support our intelligence agencies,” is someone who has not really thought that one through.
So if I may be permitted to cherish a hope, it is that Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed to the Court, and he will reflect long and hard about the impact of all the court decisions that have robbed nameless thousands of their right to due process. What was done to him was done in public, in full view. It has been horrific, but he does have the resources to fight back, and it is quite possible that at the end of the day he will be confirmed to the highest Court in the land. If he is, I would urge him to take all the energy on behalf of due process that the right has poured into his cause, and use that energy to defend the legal restrictions our Founders wisely placed on government.
We should all want a tradition of legal interpretation that is strong and robust, so that if an election goes badly, and we have to turn the keys of government over to unscrupulous scoundrels, we still all understand the importance of due process. We understanding it when a conservative is nominated to the Supreme Court, it is true when some car mechanic has all his small business assets seized without due process, it is true when the government owns all my electronic communications without my permission, and it is true when someone is pulled over and hassled for driving while black.
I hope that Kavanaugh makes it onto the Court, and I hope that the harrowing experience of getting there will bestow on him a large measure of additional wisdom.
Born for This
But of course, there remains a silver lining. Let us finish on a happy note. Let us conclude on an anapestic foot. When the ruling elites beclown themselves, this is always a good thing. When the people start to notice that they have done so, even better.
This has not been a parade of little clown cars. This has been a long chain of metro buses, every last one of them stuffed with clowns. Clowns driving, clowns leaning out the windows, clowns being periodically thrown under the buses, clowns working in dispatch telling the buses where to go, and clowns in the shop working on Avenatti’s next press release.
Things are really bad, and I stare at them stupefied. Things are so bad that a sort of eerie grandeur creeps into them. But then it is that I feel my gifts rising within me. And it comes to me. I was born for such a time as this. This is why I am here. This is what I am for.