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The weird continuing right wing obsession with the Kavanaugh affair


I mentioned awhile back that a conservative never-Trumper friend of mine, very well connected in GOP circles, emphasized to me that there was still a tremendous amount of anger all across the right about the Kavanaugh nomination battle, and that this anger was driving a lot of activism.

I keep seeing evidence that this is in fact the case, such as for example some exchanges that are taking place in the context of an argument about whether David French is too much of a squish because he doesn’t fully accept the ultimate political authority of the Holy Mother Church, or something. (Go here and here you want to delve into how Sohrab Ahmari, the current editor of the New York Post editorial page, got triggered by a Facebook ad about a drag queen reading for children at a San Francisco library, which made him realize Donald Trump is on a mission to save America from the depredations of libertine sex perverts. If you’re not inclined to get out of the boat, you’ll have to take my word for it that this is a literal description, not internet snark).

Anyway, back to the Kavanaugh obsession:

The strange thing about the continuing whinging among the Defenders of Chastity, Studio 54 Edition, regarding Kavanaugh is that they won.

It would of course make sense for them to still be bent out of shape if something as trivial as a little alleged rapeyness kept Capt. Minivan off the Supreme Court, but in fact Kavanaugh somehow survived the unspeakable ordeal of answering some questions about those allegations, and got the big job anyway.

So again, why the non-stop outrage, many months later?

The simplest answer, of course, is outrage is what the right wing scream machine does, and it never stops, without regard to whether that outrage correlates even loosely with development in what naive philosophers might call the real world.

But beyond that all-purpose answer, I think we can still delve a little further.

One reason to be outraged about the Kavanaugh hearings is because someone believes that Christine Blasey Ford was either lying or delusional, and consciously or unwittingly allowed herself to be used as a dupe by the nefarious Forces of the Left, who have “weaponized” the me-too movement to smear innocent conservatives like Brett Kavanaugh. (This belief would naturally be extended to Deborah Ramirez’s accusations, to the extent they haven’t been conveniently shunted down the memory hole).

This belief is of course of a piece with the classic paranoid style in right wing politics, and no doubt it’s fairly widespread among the groundlings.

But I doubt that it’s the real source of the continuing rage among right wing elites. Many of them surely realize that it’s actually highly improbable that Blasey Ford et. al. were just making it all up and/or crazy. Instead, I suspect the real source of the rage among people like Ahmari and Hammer is something like this actual position, which for obvious reasons they won’t ever enunciate straightforwardly:

While it’s pretty likely that Brett Kavanaugh actually did do something very much like what Blasey Ford accused him of doing, using that incident to try to derail his nomination was still outrageous.

First, it’s wrong to use a 40-year-old he-said she-said incident to block a Supreme Court nomination, because the evidence put forward in Blasey Ford’s testimony would never be enough to secure a criminal conviction, so allowing her to testify was a violation of due process, at least in some informal/inchoate sense of that term.

This argument admittedly doesn’t make a whole lot of sense on its face — after all a judicial nomination hearing isn’t a criminal trial — but I do believe it’s at the base of a lot of outrage about how allowing (or more darkly, manipulating) Blasey Ford to testify was in some sense fundamentally unfair. It’s related, I think, to deep anxieties about how the Metoo movement is destroying any sort of as it were cultural statute of limitations on bad sexual behavior by men. How is it possible that golden boy Brett Kavanaugh could have the brass ring snatched out of his grasp because of something he allegedly did in high school, just because some girl said he did it? Can’t people see how WRONG that is?

Second, a closely related belief that may well be driving much of the continuing Kavanaugh outrage is the understanding that what he allegedly did simply wasn’t that bad. OK, it was “technically” sexual assault/attempted rape, but “nothing happened.” Again, this ties in to deep anxieties about Metoo. I mean if that’s sexual assault, who hasn’t committed at least a little light sexual assault, especially if you went to high school in the 1970s or 1980s, with girls and alcohol both present and everything?

I’m obviously speculating here, but I further suspect that these attitudes are closely related to the general paranoia about the loosening of sexual mores throughout the culture, reflected in Ahmari and Co.’s manifesto linked above. All these left wingers are simultaneously trying to turn America into a non-stop polyamorous transgender cuckolding orgy, while at the same time trying to destroy upright conservative white men for engaging in a little hanky panky in the long-ago haze of their inebriated youth (“I like beer.”).

I mean are you for or against the sexual revolution anyway? (As always, the concept of consent in sexual affairs tends to cause a lot of confusion in conservative circles).

In sum, I suspect that the Kavanaugh nomination is going to continue to be a flash point in the culture wars, because it triggers a lot of right wing beliefs that dare not speak their name, or at least not very clearly.

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