Last Tuesday when I learned of Trump’s crude caricature of Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony I felt my stomach turn. The baseness and puerility, underpinned by a new depth in realpolitik, filled me with shame and disgust. I want to say “I don’t understand how we got here”, but I think I do.
Now let’s zoom out and survey the larger landscape.
John Oliver is a genius. I have for a long time enjoyed his show. Lately, however, I’ve been struggling to partake of it. It’s not that I disagree thematically with his positions. Rather, I have increasingly found his presentation of topics disagreeable. And that brings us to yesterday.
I am inclined to believe that on Saturday we confirmed a rapist to serve as a judge on the highest court in our land. And yet the next day when I watched the previous week’s episode of Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” I found the experience similarly excruciating to Trump’s performance. I go to Oliver for, among other things, some left-leaning gallows humor. But I do not recall laughing a single damn time during the whole episode. I felt like I was watching an imminent train wreck while not knowing what to do about it. I experienced Oliver’s treatment of the matter as crude, divisive, and generally unhelpful, preaching to a choir that has given up on reaching across the aisle.
The national discourse has sunk to such a level that fears of civil war are not unfounded. Instead of a calm examination of facts and testimony meshed with the perspective of subject matter experts we ran a media circus intended to inflame opinion and further polarize an already divided electorate. Republicans and Democrats alike had very clear agendas and were each weaponizing the Kavanaugh hearings by and large along party lines in a self-serving fashion.
Judges, at least in theory, are supposed to act as dispassionate and logical arbiters of the laws that our legislative branch puts on the books. If that were true, however, it would seem unlikely that we would find ourselves so embroiled in conversations around the ideology of judges, alternately fretful of judges promoted by a competing ideology as “legislating from the bench” or excited to pack the court with judges of our ilk to lock in our preferred version of reality.
Can we all stop being such unmitigated assholes? On the current trajectory things ends poorly for everyone.