A lit­tle imag­i­na­tion of­fers a dif­fer­ent view

Albany Times Union - Sunday - - PERSPECTIVE - By Cyn­thia M. Allen ▶

One of the first ca­su­al­ties of all out po­lit­i­cal war is imag­i­na­tion. Nei­ther side seems in­ter­ested in plac­ing it­self in the shoes of its op­po­nent. In the case of Brett Ka­vanaugh, I dare say the col­lec­tive imag­i­na­tion of the po­lit­i­cal left was the first to fail.

In a des­per­ate at­tempt to de­rail his nom­i­na­tion to the Supreme Court, most lib­er­als have rushed to judg­ment on the thin al­le­ga­tions against Ka­vanaugh. Worse, they have vil­i­fied as misog­y­nis­tic sex­ual as­sault de­niers any­one who ques­tions the ve­rac­ity of the claims against him. Can they re­ally not imag­ine find­ing them­selves on the other side of this fi­asco?

Let me paint a pic­ture: Hil­lary Clin­ton has won the 2016 elec­tion and names a young, moder­ately-pro­gres­sive, Ivy-leaguee­d­u­cated ju­rist to fill the seat for­merly held by Scalia (Mer­rick Gar­land has with­drawn from con­sid­er­a­tion). Sure, he’s white and male and es­tab­lish­ment. Red state Democrats might not vote for some­one too pro­gres­sive.

He’s also well-qual­i­fied; lauded by lawyers both lib­eral and con­ser­va­tive. He’s had six FBI back­ground in­ves­ti­ga­tions with­out a hint of im­pro­pri­ety. He’s a de­voted hus­band and fa­ther, and all-around good guy. Fem­i­nist groups have cham­pi­oned his record of hir­ing and men­tor­ing fe­male law clerks as an ex­am­ple of his com­mit­ment to eq­uity and fe­male em­pow­er­ment. What’s not to like?

Con­ser­va­tives, of course, are pan­icked.

The con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings are bru­tal. GOP se­na­tors re­peat­edly in­ter­rupt the pro­ceed­ings. Right-wing pro­tes­tors dressed as un­born ba­bies crowd the hall­ways out­side the hear­ing room. And be­fore the hear­ings are over, nearly ev­ery Repub­li­can se­na­tor has an­nounced ve­he­ment op­po­si­tion to the nom­i­nee. Still, con­fir­ma­tion is all but cer­tain.

Then, days be­fore the vote, Sen. Ted Cruz drops a bomb­shell. One of his con­stituents says she was sex­u­ally as­saulted by the nom­i­nee in high school more than 30 years ago — an al­le­ga­tion she’s shared with no one ex­cept ap­par­ently her ther­a­pist in cou­ple’s coun­sel­ing a few years prior and even then with­out iden­ti­fy­ing her as­sailant.

Cruz has been sit­ting on the al­le­ga­tion for weeks, wait­ing for just the right mo­ment to re­lease it. He never turns it over to the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, doesn’t pass it along to the FBI, and never men­tions the al­le­ga­tions to the nom­i­nee in pri­vate meet­ings or pub­lic hear­ings. In­stead, he refers the con­stituent, a suc­cess­ful pro­fes­sional woman, to some Repub­li­can lawyers who rec­om­mend the al­leged vic­tim take a poly­graph. Her al­le­ga­tion is then mys­te­ri­ously leaked to the press.

It so hap­pens the al­leged vic­tim is a Trump voter. That doesn’t mat­ter in the era of #metoo; we al­ways #be­lieve­women. While her mem­o­ries of the al­leged as­sault are hazy — she can’t re­mem­ber where or when it oc­curred ex­actly and none of her friends from that time can cor­rob­o­rate her story — she oth­er­wise ap­pears sin­cere and em­pa­thetic.

Two more women come for­ward with sala­cious claims of sex­ual mis­con­duct, and the me­dia, af­ter find­ing no wit­nesses to sup­port the women’s ac­cu­sa­tions, treats them se­ri­ously. One of the al­le­ga­tions in­volves the nom­i­nee sup­pos­edly fa­cil­i­tat­ing gang rapes at high school par­ties. When the nom­i­nee emo­tion­ally de­fends him­self, com­men­ta­tors as­sail his tem­per­a­ment. Con­ser­va­tive pun­dits ac­cuse him of per­jur­ing him­self about the amount of al­co­hol he con­sumed in high school. They de­mand a new FBI “in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” which turns up noth­ing, then call the in­ves­ti­ga­tion a farce.

There is the pic­ture. My guess is most pro­gres­sives would be fu­ri­ous, and I wouldn’t blame them.

This is roughly how most con­ser­va­tives I know see what has tran­spired with Ka­vanaugh. Why so many peo­ple on the left can’t ap­pre­ci­ate this? I can only imag­ine.

Cyn­thia M. Allen is a colum­nist for the Fort Worth Star-tele­gram. Email her at cmal­len­startele­gram.com.

Win Mcnamee / Pool Photo via As­so­ci­ated Press

What if the pol­i­tics sur­round­ing the nom­i­na­tion of Judge Brett Ka­vanaugh to the Supreme Court was flipped? Would peo­ple on the left be out­raged?

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