The SCOTUS nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, is a creature of Washington, DC, and the problems he is going through now are also a large part of his success. Kavanaugh is first and foremost a Suit, a guy who has credentialed himself as a GOP operative, and he shares a number of attributes with other past DC scandal figures. His roots go back further than Anita Hill; they reach into history, at least, to the Nixon administration, the Watergate episode, complete with eager young Washington GOP lawyers, especially the group that was adept at “ratfucking”.
Kavanaugh reminds me of Donald Segretti, memorialized in the film of Woodward and Bernstein’s All the President's Men. Kavanaugh is not as smarmy as portrayed by the actor in the film, his sad monologue full of self-pity – though about the same amount Kavanaugh showed in his Fox News interview. Indeed, Kavanaugh is a few steps above Segretti in the career advancement sweepstakes. He’s a federal judge, after all, another lifetime appointment.
Kavanaugh has an odd connection to Donald Trump. Being nominated to the Supreme Court might be the same sort of catastrophe for him as being elected President has been for Donald Trump. Everything was going along swimmingly until Trump reached the top. Trump and his circle was shocked and awed when he won. It’s been downhill for them since, though the Republicans in Congress have had a field day. The supposed runner-up for the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, should take note and be happy she has a good permanent job and decline any further offers.
Over the last few decades I have watched with some alarm while the bro culture has produced so many successful Republican male lawyers and financiers, Wall Street types riding Harleys: Heavy drinkers, most athletes of a sort, womanizers, hale, hearty and well met. Capitalists all, they seemed; with rare exception they favored the GOP. They did produce the ubiquitous use of the modern phrase “toxic masculinity,” which first entered common usage in the early 2000s. Previously, the rise of Microsoft, Apple, facebook, etc., seemed to cement the hegemony of single-minded men, though that tech crowd was softened somewhat by their West Coast geographies. The East Coast made the men meaner; Washington, DC, or as J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI used to refer to it, SOG – seat of government.
Given what we know now about Kavanaugh, it looks like Yale finally managed to civilize young Brett, or, at least, teach him that being drunk all the time didn’t lead to success. He seems to have changed his vices to excessive NBA basketball tickets, or, it is suspected, gambling. I, too, went to a Jesuit all-boys high school, one that shares the “men for others,” motto, though I did tweet recently that Brett should adjust the motto to Men Atop Others. I went to my high school in the early 1960s and, to say the least, the social mores were far different than those of the 80s. God knows what the Jesuits were thinking at Georgetown Prep, but supervision didn’t seem to be a priority. Though alcohol consumption has always been the most approved Catholic failing. And Jesuit high schools remain all boys to this day, the last bastion of single-sex exclusivity.
Given his background working for Bush II and Ken Starr, both tainted figures, Kavanaugh does seem to play fast and loose with the truth; he employs a sort of pragmatic lying, well sanctioned by politicians and their staffs in DC. When it came to his clerkship with his “mentor”, Judge Alex Kozinski, who resigned after decades of sexual harassment, Brett took the former wrestling coach Rep. Jim Jordan’s ignorance defense: seeing nothing, hearing nothing, saying nothing.
I am writing and posting this the day before the scheduled public hearing, which appears to be mismanaged by both sides. Christine Blasey Ford doesn’t appear to realize that a smaller room and one camera will truncate the spectacle and make it less Anita Hill-like than she might want. But, unfortunately, we will all see – or not. In our present culture everything can change in a day. Take this as Part I; Part II will follow.