White male grievance is colliding with the #MeToo movement.
On Tuesday Trump took mocking the victim as usual at a rally before a crowd of delighted hard-core Republicans in his cult base. He mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, making fun of the fact that she cannot recall certain things from the incident in which Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape her. Trump was in his usual forceful, expansive, mean-spirited state of mind. I think it’s because he thinks he knows how to affect the outcome of this bar brawl confirmation fight that has pitted Republicans against Democrats with a few moderates – Flake, Collins and Murkowski, trying to hold onto our democracy by their fingernails. Trump was igniting the paranoid aggrieved white men who got him into office. Now he is ginning them up to get Kavanaugh onto the Supreme Court.
There are many forces at work as we approach the moment of truth this Friday in the Senate.
By now anyone who has read the news, the real news, knows that Kavanaugh lied under oath in his confirmation hearing. Not once. Not twice. But multiple times. And about things that are not trivial, but material. It is material that he portrayed himself as an innocent choirboy when he was the opposite. It is material that he lied about not getting documents stolen from the Dems via Manny Miranda. There are many more lies than that. But above all, it is material that he claims he can be a fair and impartial jurist when he is clearly a political warrior for the rabid right. His deeply divisive, conspiracy-laced partisan rant opening statement alone would have discredited any other candidate for the Supreme Court before the era of Trump. But we are in an era where the bottom feeders have risen to the top of the pond, are swimming around in the scum on the surface and they have all the power for now.
So here Is how this probably plays out.
The FBI, at Flake’s request was tasked with doing a time limited investigation of the people identified by the White House who are supposed to be interviewed. Only four people are on the original list of people to interview. This goes contrary to the norms of the FBI which typically is not under a time limit and can follow whatever leads develop to get to the truth. Trump, while pretending that he is open to an expansive investigation, should give the FBI WRITTEN orders for them to go beyond the limited people they are to meet with. Trump has not done that. Which probably accounts for the many people trying to talk with the FBI who are not getting the chance to do it. Trump does not want the truth. Neither do McConnell or other Republican Senators. They are trying for a bogus investigation. Even though Trump has not given the FBI expanded orders other forces are at work.
The FBI under the direction of Chris Wray has another big headache beyond the ire of Trump. The FBI can look ahead and see that when the Dems get into power in the House after the mid-terms (which seems to be baked in the cake in much of the thinking in D C at this point), the Dems will do an investigation of what the FBI did in the Kavanaugh investigation and whether the FBI worked with the White House hand in glove to seal the deal on this nominee to please the president and his enablers. I think they are nervous about that. As a result, they are expanding the scope of their investigation somewhat probably without Trump’s written orders but based on Trump’s comments that he is open to a wide-ranging investigation and the leads they are getting from current witnesses. So far, they are interviewing Dr. Ford’s former boyfriend who introduced her to Kavanaugh and they may have located the house where Kavanaugh’s own calendar puts a group of his pals on July 1st that might be the place where the incident occurred. They seem to be trying to do a little more thorough investigation. Probably enough to look good but not so much as to annoy Trump more than he is already annoyed with them.
Another part of this showdown is the role of Jeff Flake and how this could play out for him.
Jeff Flake matters. He needs to know that the FBI has done an expansive investigation. He has been in close communication with the White House to put pressure on them and demand a broader investigation. He holds some important cards. To get to 50 to confirm Kavanaugh, the Republicans probably need Flake. He has said that if Kavanaugh lied under oath, he should not get onto the Supreme Court. But since Kavanaugh has already lied under oath for all to witness, it seems like Flake should already be signaling a no vote which he is not doing. He along with other key Senators are waiting for the FBI report, or so they say. Also waiting for the report are Republicans Collins, and Murkowski and Democrats Heidkampt, Manchin and Donnelly. The Democrats are in red states that were won by Trump and their political futures may well turn on the electorate still voting for them despite political tribalism.
However, what is happening behind the scenes is even more complex. Trump knows that if white male grievance and a sense of angst can be heightened, that will put pressure on the red state Dems to vote for Kavanaugh, so he is stirring up that resentment. That’s what he was doing last night at the rally. He is manipulating white men and the mothers who love them to get them all upset about being unfairly accused by women of doing things that all boys do- namely, drink and carouse and try to get sex from women in their youth. They think Kavanaugh is unfairly getting knocked out of the running for Supreme Court by a fake claim of attempted rape. That is the narrative Trump and his enablers are putting out there. That sense of unfairness and grievance, which Trump understands, shares and knows how to rile up, is being used to stoke a resurgence of male anger that Trump is going to use to try to get a “red wave” at the polls in November and drive red state Dems to support Kavanaugh.
Also- behind the scenes, Mitch McConnell is mad at Trump. He warned him that Kavanaugh was a bad risk. McConnell knew about Kavanaugh’s baggage long before the hearing. That’s why McConnell kept that mountain of damaging information about Kavanaugh away from the committee. He was trying to sneak Kavanaugh through with as little noise as possible. Trump insisted to McConnell that Kavanaugh was the one he wanted in- because he is a total partisan operative who will protect Trump from having to respond to subpoenas and be sure he will not be indicted and perhaps more importantly, rule on Gamble v US in a way that will allow Trump as president to pardon his family and friends (Manafort etc) and NOT have them face state charges either. Poof! If Gamble is decided in the way Trump wants, the power of the presidential pardon grows enormously.
All of this is coming to a showdown by the end of the week. When the FBI has finished the investigation, agents will put together what are called 302 reports of witness testimony. These reports will probably show that Kavanaugh lied about being a choir boy and perhaps place Kavanaugh in the house where the incident probably took place but unless Mark Judge has a come to Jesus moment, he will deny everything, and we will be left with a he said she said situation allowing the Senators to vote whatever way they need to to stay in power given their constituents. These 302s will not contain conclusions. It will be up to the Senators to draw their conclusions. Most Republicans and Democrats HAVE already drawn their conclusions. McConnell will likely call for a vote whether or not he HAS the votes- just to spite Trump. Everything will hang on those 5 key Senators.
This democracy is also hanging by a thread. It will all turn on whether the 5 key Senators in the hot seat follow their consciences or the tribalism of the moment when they vote.
If Kavanaugh does not get on the bench, the anger on the right will explode exponentially.
If Kavanaugh does get on the Supreme Court, the anger of women (and many men on the left) who see this travesty for what it is, will explode exponentially.
There is only one way out of the divisive mess we are in. Donald Trump needs to be exploded. We need to get this divisive leader out of office. And the Republicans need to be burned to the ground this November with a very big woman powered firestorm of retribution.