We just love a good story, don't we? We love rewarding creative, wonderful liars for crafting beautiful narratives, and in turn they reward us for surrendering to that story with a satisfying ending. In a courtroom drama—a political thriller of the kind Aaron Sorkin might dash off in a fevered weekend—a multi-layered scandal about a key political figure might likely, by its climax, laser in on, say... a single FBI investigation that would hopefully unearth a "eureka!"-evoking bit of evidence, thus granting our heroes a buzzer-beating, exhilarating win.
But problems arise when we try to apply those manufactured and pat structures to our own messy, uncooperative lives. For example: the Democrats have hinged most of their argument against Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation on the unwritten ending to just such a Hollywood narrative, and the Republicans are using that drama for their benefit. The mini-circus surrounding the constantly phasing, pudding-filled spine of Senator Jeff Flake is just the latest example.
Today, Senator Flake weakly (in accordance with the entirety of his pathetic being) put forth an argument in the judicial committee that his "yes" vote would be contingent on a (hamstrung) FBI investigation into Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her. Considering the wording he kept using, I’d imagine this week-long investigation would be limited solely to that allegation, and not the other alleged sexual assaults in Kavanaugh’s past.
Senator Diane Feinstein seemed confused as to whether Flake’s proposed contingency applied to the committee vote or the floor vote, and a conversation to clarify Flake’s mealy-mouthed blah-blah was quickly squashed by Senator Chuck Grassley. The vote was called, Flake voted to move it out of committee, and then craven, soulless fuck Senator Lindsey Graham pointed out there was no way McConnell was going to call for an investigation, and McConnell could now call for a floor vote whenever he wanted. Essentially, Flake’s meek imitation of political grandstanding is a joke because everyone knows he stands for nothing at all, so whatever this bluff might be, Republican reliance on party before country as their governing principle will see Kavanaugh in that SCOTUS seat.
And while an FBI investigation is welcome, necessary, and absolutely 100 percent the right thing to do in response to allegations as serious and credible as Ford’s, this almost totemic emphasis on the investigation as sole saving grace is feeding a simplistic narrative arc that many are swallowing sans examination. The arc is already being described via senatorial statements like the ones given by Flake, Senator Bob Corker, and Senator Lamar Alexander, and is essentially this:
If any investigation or testimony cannot conclusively prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Kavanaugh did assault Ford, then Kavanaugh’s rightful reward for having not committed a crime 30-plus years ago is a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.
These appear to be the mutually agreed-upon stakes for his approval. This is now the scenario that has to play out in the third act of this story: If the investigation digs up just the right kind of dirt, he loses. If the investigation can’t do that, he wins. This is the simple, film-ready narrative being presented and digested by most of the public—and more importantly—most of our elected officials.
This is false. False as a narrative, and definitely a false equivalence. It is irresponsible of our representatives (or ourselves, for that matter) to agree to those stakes, because it relies on a fantasy that the Republican party can be made to see the light, so long as it's bright enough. But even if an FBI investigation could provide the lumens necessary for that truth to resolve as undeniable, there are too many recent examples to the contrary to give that pipe dream much time or energy. These are the three major problems with relying upon this single narrative arc to save us:
(1) They know he did it
(2) They know she’s telling the truth
(3) They don’t fucking care
Acting as if further FBI investigation will shake this treasonous cabal of 60-year-old fratboys out of their lifelong moral stupor is naïve as fuck. His qualifications to sit on this bench aren’t dependent on what the FBI digs up—after his performance in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday the 27th, further investigation isn’t even necessary to disqualify him.
Whether or not he did it (and he fuckin’ did it), the manner in which he conducted his self-defense is by itself disqualifying. Never in American history has a hearing to determine the substance of a Supreme Court nominee featured a judge behaving so disrespectfully, antagonistically, defensively, and emotionally. That is not a hyperbolic statement. In over 200 years of job interviews, this was easily the single worst performance given by a candidate for that position.
Even in the utterly imaginary scenario where Brett Kavanaugh told the truth at all times while under oath—an act he is historically incapable of—the way he told that “truth” was, by any objective standard, ugly, unhinged, and unbecoming. He displayed strong partisan bias. He deployed multiple unverified, unsubstantiated political conspiracy theories. He threatened retaliatory action in the event of his denial to the job that he really wanted and therefore deserved.
In short, he certainly sounded like a whiny frat pledge who had spent days locked in Donald Trump’s house. And like everything that comes out of Donald Trump’s house, he is fraudulent. His nomination, his “good guy” façade, his standing as a judge, a lawyer, a mentor, a teacher: Fraudulent.
Republicans see this. They know this. The men on that committee, the men in the House and the Senate, they don’t need FBI confirmation of this delivered to them in triplicate to confirm it. They recognize it intimately, because it is the same hollow nothing that takes up space within them. Their lack of empathy for anyone who doesn’t look and sound exactly like they do means their ability to stand in someone else’s shoes is limited almost solely to fratty, gin-blossomed, tantrum-throwing sexagenarian teenagers exploiting their unearned privilege to hold (and ineptly carry out) jobs they’re unqualified for. In which case Kavanaugh is a tailored fit so tight that the results of a hypothetical FBI investigation that flat-out state “Ford is telling the truth, Kavanaugh and Judge sexually assaulted her that night” won't be enough to dislodge these Republicans from their stance. Kavanaugh’s utility as a justice is worth more than any woman’s suffering, and that’s all the math these boys need to know.
This isn’t a movie. The FBI is not an organization well-built for delivering crowd-pleasing deus ex machina revelations. Agreeing to this narrative is a terrible bet, and Republicans are hoping they can distract us with unexamined misdirection.
This is not me suggesting calls for the investigation need to be stopped, because an investigation is absolutely necessary. But I do think our eagerness to have this dilemma distilled into a single narrative, neatly served up to us, is a huge detriment, threatening to become yet another example of our elected officials declining to use all the tools at their disposal to prevent the destabilization and defiling of our country by self-serving, openly treasonous, racist, sexist, -phobic parties.
There is utility in the investigation's prolonging Kavanaugh's approval process, but if the whole of that extension is not spent making as much noise as possible, impressing upon the few vulnerable senators how important it is to their own livelihoods that they not appoint this fraudulent man to that seat? If that time is instead spent ineffectually grumbling while waiting for a hasty federal investigation to hurriedly end? Then that time will have been completely wasted.
Just today, both Kavanaugh's alma mater and the American Bar Association publicly stated his nomination should be at the least suspended if not outright pulled. Our representatives need to use those statements as support, and we need to avoid the easy surrender that accompanies our role as a compliant television audience and nothing more.
This isn’t a movie. The FBI is not an organization well-built for delivering crowd-pleasing deus ex machina revelations, and this is not the third act of a neatly constructed fictional work. Agreeing to this narrative is a terrible bet, and Republicans are hoping they can distract us with unexamined misdirection—making us complicit in an empty deal that they have no plans of sticking to anyway. Essentially: They think we're as easily folded and pocketed as Senator Jeff Flake.
Brett Kavanaugh is not owed a Supreme Court seat for enduring less than a month of heightened scrutiny, and he shouldn’t be rewarded because he cried and shit his pants like a diaper-rashed toddler for four hours on a Thursday afternoon. Reject GOP narratives outright. This is a party of traitors and accomplices to traitors. Don’t let them set the parameters for your hopes, don’t let them fence you into fictional scenarios where their pursuits can be seen as fair, or rational, or in your best interests. These games are rigged, and Democratic opposition has to stop looking at their scripts for inspiration—much less trying to rewrite and execute them with one eye on which famous actor might play them in the HBO miniseries.
Kavanaugh is unfit because he lacks the aptitude, intelligence, and moral fiber to be objective, thoughtful, or fair. He is a closed-minded, retaliatory, belligerent drunken oaf, and on the merits of his character and his quality as a person, the mere suggestion he is at all fit to sit next to Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or Sonia Sotomayor is fucking insulting. Ford’s credible accusations deserve to be investigated by the FBI, but that investigation should only primarily bear the weight of proving her story to be as true as Republicans already know it is.
We don't need the results of that investigation to make the argument that Kavanaugh is undeserving of the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh already made that argument for us, all day Thursday, with every spittle-flecked, petulant, and dishonest utterance he let fly from his cheap, beer-stained mouth.