Reggae Hawaiian band “The Green” said it aptly in their song “Power in the Words”: words can come out of us so easily – positive or negative – if we don’t think first, and words have power. Power to heal and power to hurt. What we saw in the Senate Judiciary committee the last few weeks has been all about words, mostly words intended to hurt. Judge Brett Kavanaugh was subjected to one of the most vicious character assassination attempts of any presidential nominee in our history. Despite the committee’s ranking Democrat having possession of the “evidence” of Kavanaugh’s supposed malfeasance in hand since July 30, she would not share the contents of the letter with anyone or even address the claims made in the letter until the 11th hour.
What followed was an absolute circus that made a mockery of the presumption of innocence by attempting to use innuendo, rumor, guilt by association, and every other rhetorical device of demagoguery to cast Judge Kavanaugh into such a despicable light that he would either be defeated in committee or withdraw from consideration. In the end it was a left-leaning woman, Sen. Susan Collins, who decided she’d had enough, said she did not believe Kavanaugh’s accuser, and voted to confirm him despite phenomenal pressure against her. So Brett Kavanaugh will be sworn in as a supreme court justice. But the words used to destroyed him will undoubtedly linger a long time for him and his family.
As this fraught confirmation process draws mercifully to a conclusion, the women’s movement is celebrating those cowed into conformity by their bullying, and targeting Collins for bucking the pressure.
The struggle came to a head on Friday, as the senator spent forty minutes on the floor calmly and exhaustively detailing exactly why she believed it was right to confirm Kavanaugh. Collins addressed the left’s concerns point-by-point, persuasively explaining why a Justice Kavanaugh would not threaten gay marriage, the Affordable Care Act, or Roe v. Wade. She called Me Too “important,” but outlined thoughtfully why the allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh “fail to meet the more-likely-than-not standard.”
“We must always remember that it is when passions are most inflamed that fairness is most in jeopardy,” Collins said. It’s a pitch-perfect assessment of the moment.
For a woman accustomed to voting against her party, opposing Kavanaugh would have been easy. (Collins voted to confirm both Justice Elena Kagen and Justice Sonia Sotamayor.) Those on the right who are rankled by her centrism would still be rankled by her centrism. But Collins would have been championed enthusiastically by the left (for now, at least). She would have been backslapped by the media, framed as brave, thanked profusely by Democrats, hailed as a bipartisan hero. The comparatively tame plaudits of conservative pundits and her GOP colleagues are almost certainly less alluring than the approval of the press, Hollywood, and powerful Democrats.
Put it on paper. A female senator stood up for what she believed was right amid a historic pressure campaign from special interests and the media. It’s a decision that represents the kind of free-thinking, thick skin, and independence that empowers other women to think for themselves. But feminists don’t want women to think for themselves if those thoughts end up straying from their partisan dogma.
And their partisan dogma, in this case, insists Kavanaugh is a threat to legal abortion, and insists an uncorroborated sexual assault allegation makes him an attempted rapist. To them, there is no reasonable disagreement with either point. Thus, Collins’s bold stance in favor of Kavanaugh amounts to an unforgivable sin, rather than a moment of moral courage.
To liberal feminists, it’s understandable that Collins’s intent to vote in favor of the judge’s confirmation and swing the balance of the court is disappointing. But that disapproval is predicated on a fundamental disagreement about whether Kavanaugh constitutes a threat to women’s rights, not whether women’s rights should actually be threatened.
In a world where the movement tasked with advancing the cause of women were not inextricably intertwined with the Democratic Party, Collins strength in the face of incredible political pressure might be seen for what it was. Instead, the left is already orchestrating a campaign to replace her with a rubber stamp.