Teachers Scotch used to run an amusing ad that read ‘In life, experience is the great teacher. In Scotch, Teachers is the great experience.’
Droll, what? But is it true? Or was T. S. Eliot’s mournful observation that ‘we had the experience but missed the meaning’ more pertinent to our situation?
What happens in the aftermath of Judge — as of a few minutes ago, make that ‘Justice’ — Brett Kavanaugh’s bizarre confirmation process will tell us a lot about whether we have learned anything from the horrible experience of the last weeks.
When the Senate voted 50 to 48 to confirm Kavanaugh, they drew a line under a battle that was not just bitter but insane. Some weeks ago in this column, I predicted that Kavanaugh would be confirmed ‘without a hitch.’
Ha, ha, ha. And that’s a hollow, not a melodious laugh.
Senator Susan Collins, who finally set the capstone on Kavanaugh’s triumph yesterday afternoon with her long and judicious speech announcing her support but deploring that malignant circus that had mesmerised the country for the last couple of weeks, was entirely correct that the confirmation process for the Supreme Court had been broken for some 30 years — since 1987, in fact when the great jurist Robert Bork was defeated by a swaggering and mendacious Teddy Kennedy and a collapse of support from the Reagan administration that lost heart in the fight.
How was it that Brett Kavanaugh prevailed where Judge Bork was rejected? In the end, I think, it was for two reasons. One was the President’s support. He never wavered in his public support and as the Democrats and their claque in the media got louder and more extreme, he just said, ‘See you on that and raise you 10.’ He went, as Senator John Thune put it, to the mat for Kavanaugh. A turning point came several days ago, I think, when the President, speaking at a rally, made fun of Christine Blasey Ford, the first of Brett Kavanaugh’s accusers. She remembered that she had had only one beer at that party many years back, but she didn’t know how she got there, where ‘there’ was, how she got home or even exactly when it took place. Every single person who she said was there has no recollection of the event.
The media thought the President was ‘insensitive’ and ‘mean’ to poor Christine. I think she is a malevolent fantasist who, so far, has got off easy while helping to prompt an extraordinarily vicious and totally groundless attack on a man of spotless reputation. Let’s see if the law pursues her for perjury. In any event, what Ford, with the active connivance of the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, unleashed was one of the most disgusting efforts at character assassination in American history.
Andrew McCarthy was entirely correct when he said that the Left has criminalised politics by weaponising investigations. What we just witnessed was not a confirmation hearing but a ‘search and destroy mission.’ And this brings me to the second reason that Brett Kavanaugh prevailed. The public turned definitively against the disgusting and unjust treatment of an innocent man. The unpleasant and alarmingly adipose females who have been filling the Senate Chambers screaming at senators whose opinions they do not like are of a piece with politicians like the wretched Jerrold Nadler, Representative from the Twilight Zone, who promised to ‘investigate’ Justice Kavanaugh if only, if only the Democrats take the House in November. But the public is sick of these hysterics.
It pains me to disagree with the World’s Greatest Psephologist, Nate Silver, but last spring I predicted that there would be no blue wave and what just happened to Brett Kavanaugh and his family make me even more confident that come November 6, the Jerry Nadlers of the world are going to be crying in their beer, assuming of course that Brett Kavanaugh leaves any undrunk.
The Instapundit Glenn Reynolds has often observed that one reason that Supreme Court confirmation hearings are so contentious, at least when conservative candidates are up for the job, is that the Court has too much power. I think that’s right, and would only add that it has too much power because since the 1960s the Court has stepped in to fill a vacuum left by a feckless Congress and an increasingly imperial governmental bureaucracy — the ‘deep state’ we’ve been hearing so much about — that saw itself as the angel of progressive utopia, the will of the people with their laws and elections be damned.
Every man of good will has to have regarded the snarling upsurge of the mob in the case of Brett Kavanaugh with repugnance. ‘Things fall apart,’ as Yeats said; ‘the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.’ That’s how it seemed, and people did not like it. Here we had an ostentatiously well qualified and thoughtful jurist whose judicious temperament has been on display for the last dozen years on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. The increasingly shrill and surreal charges against him, unleashed in an orchestrated assault at the last possible moment, reeked of partisan animus.
Otto von Bismarck once noted that a special providence seems to look out for fools, drunkards, and the United States of America. That providence was once again in operation this afternoon when Brett Kavanaugh won the Senate’s vote for the Supreme Court. Had it gone the other way, had the screaming hysterics managed to torpedo his nomination, the anarchists would have been even further emboldened and we would have seen more viciousness, more violence, more unfounded accusations and disruptions.
As it is, I suspect cooler heads in the Senate will look for ways to change the process so that, when the time comes, Donald Trump’s next nominees will not have to undergo this ritual humiliation and attempt at character assassination. My own thought is that there should be no public hearings, only private meetings between the candidate and members of the Judiciary Committee and those other senators who wish an audience. It is imperative that we take the histrionics out of the process.
In the meantime, the hairy mobs with nose rings and such will shout and wave their placards. Maybe they will follow Sens. Collins, Cruz, and Flake around to the restaurants they frequent to scream at them, but this too will pass. Victory generally has a sedative effect, and I expect that most of the terminally disappointed activists will either either get a life or get jail sentences before long. In any case, the sweet sounds of silence, if not yet comity, will once again descend upon the business of the nation and Justice Kavanaugh will, as he has for so many years already, be diligent in upholding the rule of law and interpreting the Constitution with just regard for precedent and the original meaning of the document he loves so much.