Getting Over It
Dahlia Lithwick, who's written great pieces on the Supreme Court and legal matters for a long time, has penned a thoughtful, sobering piece called, "Why I Haven’t Gone Back to SCOTUS Since Kavanaugh." It's worth reading in its entirely for her recap of the disgraceful confirmation process, the continuing, dreadful treatment of Christine Blasey Ford, and Lithwick's personal experiences. Lithwick takes aim at sexism and misogyny, but also delivers a more expansive critique of power and its abuses:
That is the problem with power: It incentivizes forgiveness and forgetting. It’s why the dozens of ethics complaints filed after the Kavanaugh hearings complaining about the judge’s behavior have been easily buried in a bottomless file of appeasement, on the grounds that he’s been seated and it’s too late. The problem with power is that there is no speaking truth to it when it holds all the cards. And now, given a lifetime appointment to a position that is checked by no one, Washington, the clerkship machinery, the cocktail party circuit, the elite academy all have a vested interest in getting over it and the public performance of getting over it. And a year perhaps seems a reasonable time stamp for that to begin.
The problem with power is that Brett Kavanaugh now has a monopoly on normalization, letting bygones be bygones, and turning the page. American women also have to decide whether to get over it or to invite more recriminations. That is, for those keeping track, the very definition of an abusive relationship. You stick around hoping that he’s changed, or that he didn’t mean it, or that if you don’t anger him again, maybe it’ll all be fine when the court hears the game-changing abortion appeal this year. . . .
It is not my job to decide if Brett Kavanaugh is guilty. It’s impossible for me to do so with incomplete information, and with no process for testing competing facts. But it’s certainly not my job to exonerate him because it’s good for his career, or for mine, or for the future of an independent judiciary. Picking up an oar to help America get over its sins without allowing for truth, apology, or reconciliation has not generally been good for the pursuit of justice. Our attempts to get over CIA torture policies or the Iraq war or anything else don’t bring us closer to truth and reconciliation. They just make it feel better—until they do not. And we have all spent far too much of the past three years trying to tell ourselves that everything is OK when it most certainly is not normal, not OK, and not worth getting over.
The Beltway gang – or the Village, as Digby's sometimes called it – generally doesn't like accountability for their own, regardless of political party. The powerful rarely learn the error of their ways unless they are held to account. And when they're not held responsible, it also sends the message to other powerful people that they can get away with misdeeds as well. Even if no one served jail time for lying the U.S. into the Iraq War or the Bush administration's torture regime, at least we still could have a truth and reconciliation commission or something similar. But even that would go way too far for Beltway insiders like Peggy Noonan, who in 2009 said in reference to the torture regime:
Some things in life need to be mysterious. Sometimes you need to just keep walking. . . . It’s hard for me to look at a great nation issuing these documents and sending them out to the world and thinking, oh, much good will come of that.
Noonan, of course, was concerned with "good" coming to people in her social circle, of her class, not about justice for torture victims or all the other harm caused by the torture program. Nor was she concerned about ordinary U.S. citizens who might be bothered by abuses of power and might suffer the effects, later on if not immediately. She needn't have worried; no one was held accountable, and indeed no good came of it, if not the way she meant. Similarly, nothing good ultimately came of Gerald Ford pardoning Richard Nixon. Nothing good came of George H. W. Bush pardoning Iran-Contra conspirators. (So are they all, all honourable men.) Nothing good came of barely holding anyone responsible for the financial industry's malfeasance in creating the economic crash of 2008. Likewise, nothing good will come of the current human rights abuses on the border and grotesque and flagrant abuses of power by conservatives throughout government. This is not the time for politeness or gutless pleas for civility. A true "armistice" is impossible without remembrance, investigation and accountability.