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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

BLACKLISTED: The Kavanaugh Witch-Hunt

Written by  Vincent Chiarello
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All the world's a stage. And all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances …
Shakespeare...As You Like It

For nearly two weeks, millions of Americans have watched the televised confirmation hearings regarding Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. In an earlier comment in The Remnant about the nomination,  I wrote:

"I buttress my favorable assessment of Kavanaugh not on my limited first hand knowledge of Kavanaugh's record, but on that of two other experts in the field: one of them is Ed Whelan, a former law clerk of Justice Scalia, who totally supports the Kavanaugh nomination, and believes that he will be helpful in moving another step forward along the way of bringing back sanity to the High Court, including in the field of religious liberty. The other is Eugene Scalia. I strongly doubt that the lawyer son of  the late Justice would endorse anyone whose legal views were antithetical to those of his saintly father. I believe that Judge Kavanaugh will be confirmed, and that he will join the fight to restore the religious liberty that the current court has set in motion."

As any sentient person knows, toward the end of Kavanaugh's confirmation process, the ranking Minority representative of the Senate's Judiciary Committee, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), released a letter from a woman in California who claimed that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her. With that unsubstantiated letter now serving as prima facie evidence for further investigation, the wheels of justice and confirmation procedure were slowed down and basically stopped, despite a Republican majority in the Committee and the Senate. Let it be remembered that the same Sen. Feinstein told a nominee for the Circuit Court, Amy Comey Barrett, “You are controversial... you have a long history of believing that your religious beliefs should prevail.” Then this:  “When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you.” (emphasis mine) The U.S. Constitution forbids denial of office on religious grounds: Art. VI Clause 3: "...; no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

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What was not stopped, however, was the unprecedented attack, mainly personal, on the nominee, and, by extension, his family, on the basis of an "I said so" accusation. Two weeks after the hearing began, we still have not seen the confirmation - or rejection - by the U.S. Senate of the nominee. I have been a student of the High Court for several decades, and was privileged to have had the late Justice Scalia as a mentor, but in all my years of observing the nomination of a Supreme Court Justice, I have never seen this display of Soviet-style show trial methods used in trying to eliminate a candidate. Never. The late Justice was fully aware of the impact of the politicizing of the nomination process; in fact, more than once he opined that, if he were to be nominated in today's atmosphere (the conversation took place several years ago), he never would have been confirmed. At that time, Vice-President, Joe Biden, who had voted for Justice Scalia in 1986, stated that he would not vote for his confirmation if it were held again.

Many an observer of these proceedings has chimed in with opinions about the unusual late release and public disclosure of the letter, the strong denial by Judge Kavanaugh of any truth to the charges claimed in the letter, as well as the accuser's assertion that other people were in the same room during the assault, which was completely repudiated  by the three so-called witnesses. What, then, is going on here? One news blog called the situation in the Senate Judiciary Committee Room "high drama." I believe that is so, but not in the manner or form that the reporters believe. I see this event as Kabuki theatre. An explanation is necessary. 

Although the purpose and symbolism of Kabuki theatre may be known to some, allow me to introduce it to others, for there may be a noticeable link between what we are currently seeing in Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation process to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Kabuki form of theatre. 

Kabuki is an ancient Japanese form of stylized gesture-based dance that began in the 17th century, and uses those gestures to convey a series of meanings, especially to describe political acts that are only for show, and have no basis in reality. Kabuki theatre is a performance that focuses on style, and pretty much discards the substance of the matter.  In short: there is a great deal of talk that it is staged in such a way to give the appearance of an uncertain outcome. Yet, both the actors (and the audience) know that the thespians have worked to determine an outcome beforehand. Then, like all dramas, it is staged for the audience.

feminist menSome of the actors

Kabuki is also the presence of what appears to be ritualized behavior; such as, when certain groups or individuals always react to issues or situations in predicable ways, with predictable words, actors reciting scripted dialogue in a play. Since the nominee was that of President Trump, the Majority Republicans on the Committee did not have to avail themselves of Kabuki-like theatrics; that was left entirely to the Democrats, and they carried out their roles with consummate perfection. Let us start with Sen Kamala Harris, from California.

Before the Committee's first session could even begin, the recently-elected Sen. Harris, without being recognized by the Chairman, began by invoking the phrase, "Mr. Chairman" repeatedly.  Aside from the breach of etiquette - the Senate is far more rigid in following its rules than is the House of Representatives - her first motion was to adjourn the meeting. Now Sen. Harris knew that was not a possibility, but, as if scripted, her colleague, Sen. Blumenthal, then continued the quest to shut down the Committee hearing. Both were following the rules of Kabuki: a lot of talk but no action, and certainly no substance. But this was just the opening phase of this Kabuki drama.

In the following days, other senators from the Minority (Democrat) side would lacerate the nominee, following scripted and choreographed  guidelines in the hope that the president would "pull" his nomination, or the nominee withdraw. Neither has happened. One of the more ironic aspects of this gesture-based hearing was the questioning of Judge Kavanaugh which sought to impugn his honesty in answering questions. Sen. Blumenthal (D-CT.) attempted to demonstrate Kavanaugh's lack of truth in answering questions about the charges raised, but Sen. Blumenthal's credibility must be taken with several grains of salt: for nearly a dozen years, while running for public office in Connecticut, Blumenthal described himself as a "combat Marine in Vietnam." It was later discovered he had never set foot in Vietnam. Caught in his mendacity, Blumenthal said he, "misspoke" - for twelve years? The Latinists among you  know the Romans said it best: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes ...who will judge the judges?

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As I write this, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IO), has agreed to another week's delay in the hearing, which will allow the FBI to investigate the charges against Judge Kavanaugh, who has undergone six previous investigations since his days in President George Bush's White House.  Nothing remotely negative has ever been found. The intent of the delay by the Minority members of the Committee, which will, I assure you, trigger other attempts by bringing forth "new" aggrieved witnesses, is to wait and see if the Democrats will regain control of the Senate in November.  If that happens, the Kavanaugh nomination is toast. 

In one article about Kabuki, I found this appropriate and relevant gem:

"The word 'Kabuki'  is also on the ascendant whenever fakery seems particularly rife in American politics. Kabuki loves itself  a Senate nomination hearing." (Emphasis mine.)

But Kabuki has a deeper sense of meaning in the gestures that are displayed, deeply woven into the symbolic moves themselves, and so does this show-trial. At the very core of the attempt to derail the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is one fundamental objective, which drives the Minority party to continue Kabuki-like theatre: Kavanaugh would replace Justice Kennedy, for whom he was a clerk, but will he follow Kennedy's swing vote in the case of the unlimited abortion license? The feminists and their supporters will take no chance on that issue; hence, the Kabuki theatre will be with us until Kavanaugh's nomination is completed. 

Finally, if Kavanaugh is approved, the scope and scale of the Kabuki theatrics you have seen in his nominating process will pale by comparison with that which will occur should President Trump select a replacement for Justice Ginsburg. That nominee could easily change the Court with a majority Scalia-like Justices for a generation. When (if?) that happens, in the inimitable words of the late entertainer, George Jessel, "You ain't seen nothing yet."


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Last modified on Wednesday, October 3, 2018


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