In the UK, it’s called ‘spin’. It’s what individuals, political parties, corporations engage in to reduce the impact of potentially negative publicity, mistakes in strategy or poorly designed policy. It’s intended to deflect responsibility and blame from where it rightly rests onto the shoulders of another person or party or group. In the UK, the media were very keen on detecting spin when it was being practiced by the ‘enemy’ – the politicians (read Tony Blair) or political party (read the Labour government under Tony Blair) despised by various versions of the left as well as by the opposition Tories.
In the United States today, we are seeing a classic version of the same phenomena. The Democrats had a weak hand – allegations without out corroborating evidence. They played it as if it was a slam dunk surety to disqualify the conservative nominee’s further advance and, hopefully, from their point of view, stave off a conservative takeover of the Supreme Court. This, of course, has always been the political goal of all of the smoke and mirrors deployed in recent months as the debate gathered steam. The problem with this strategy is that now all of the progressive activists who despise a conservative perspective (and anyone who professes to hold such a perspective), taking their cue from their national democratic leaders, have decided that the weak and unplayable hand against the nominee should have disqualified him anyway and that anyone who disagrees is themselves disqualified because either they are male, white or conservative. I have read rhetoric from some of these people justifying violence against people like me who happen to disagree with them on points of ideology and policy. It’s like the prospect of losing influence in one of our branches of government has caused people to be de-ranged, to lose their minds, as if their world is coming to an end. Please. This is democracy and the way American government works. It’s called checks and balances. It allows the winner of the presidential election to fill vacancies by nominating people to the judiciary and even to the Supreme Court. For forty or fifty years, matters took a decidedly liberal turn in terms of legislation and judicial interpretation. And many of us were very unhappy with that turn. But that's what happens in a democracy. Sometimes we don't get our way. But we don't try to intimidate all opposition and force the change we want when we can't get what we want, at least in the America that I have known. And people like me, after patiently working over decades, however much we may dislike the person at the top of the ticket, we now have an administration with a decidedly more conservative legal perspective than what preceded it has come to power in Washington. And now it is doing what it’s supporters who elected it were hoping all along it would do – nominate conservative judges. This is what all the shouting is about. But this is not what one is hearing from the media.
The spin comes in because members of the minority party and their supporters are angry because their tactic of using a woman’s uncertain memory of an event that the accused says never happened did not succeed in scuppering his nomination. And now they are blaming the FBI, the Majority Leader, the Nominee, the ‘unfair process’, threatening scorched earth in their attempts to take revenge for their defeat and remove a man from the Supreme Court, now through impeachment (!), that they have decided is guilty, though after months of trying, they have not been able to offer a modicum of evidence to establish his guilt.
Instead the whole charade, and that is what it is, is a rather transparent effort to push a vile political, ideological and legal agenda on me, and many people politically, ideologically and religiously like me, by a sham ‘trial’ in the judiciary committee, enabled by their major media fellow travelers who cannot even pretend to be even-handed in their coverage of the issue any more. I would agree with Senator Graham who had the courage to call a spade a spade and tell his fellow members on the committee responsible for this attempted coup against justice that he is glad that they and their ideology and methodology will be denied the opportunity of putting someone in that empty seat on the Supreme Court. The fringe left has already succeeded in implementing a culture of death in our country, where women are told that the act of murdering their baby in their womb is their right and anybody else who might be concerned about the death of another human being should mind their own business. They have used the wedge of ‘rights’ to demand that LGBTQ advocates rewrite curriculum for Kindergarten and primary school children, to remove any hint of a morality that doesn’t think that gay sex is anything other than ‘normal’, or that gender confusion is anything other than ‘normal’. And who gives these people the right to force their ‘morality’ down my throat? Have I lost the right to disagree? To teach my children what my religion, my tradition, my culture teaches is the right way to live? Well according to the wedding cake baker-haters, no right exists to disagree with them. Because they have, in their arrogance, decided to redefine morality so that they are right and everyone else is wrong. Because their sexual and identity ideologies are more important than any one’s rights to disagree. Because we have come to the place where disagreement has been redefined as ‘hatred’, and ‘hatred’ (read: disagreement) triggers all sorts of bad feelings. And we can use these bad feelings and the 'outrage' (yet another over-used word) engendered as the lever to put you in your place. I have watched this linguistic sleight of hand occur over the past 10 years or so and now we see where it is leading – into a totalitarian society where one is either part of the collective (the Borg, for Star Trek New Generation fans), or one must be eliminated. Constructing this sort of society is not as difficult as it may seem. And efforts to do so succeeded famously in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, until a very costly hot war took down the Nazis and a very costly cold war eventually undid the Soviets. I wish these people had a better grasp of history, because then they might just be alarmed enough at their own trajectory to plot a better course before they find themselves on the wrong side of history.
Anyway, the shallowness of thinking, the shallowness of perspective and the utter lack of humility is what is most distressing in all of this. It’s as if the ideologues, the protesters, the senators actually believe that a rapist has been made a Supreme Court justice. And so they are working themselves up into a self-righteous frenzy to undo what seems to them to be a gross travesty of justice.
All along, I and many on the Conservative side of this issue have said, show us your evidence and we will agree that such a person should not go further in the process. But no evidence was ever brought forth. Outrage is not evidence. Heated rhetoric is not evidence. Spin is not evidence. We can have sympathy for Dr. Ford and what she remembers she went through, but that alone is not evidence. History teaches us again and again that we simply cannot trust one person's account, especially when so much is at stake. What these people refuse to understand (perhaps they simply cannot understand) is that if we allowed their allegations to remove someone from a nomination process, or from a position of responsibility and power, with no corroborating evidence, then all of us are in danger of the same thing happening to us. What these people cannot grasp is that the requirement of evidence to support an allegation actually protects them! Once the requirement of evidence is done away with, then justice is made captive to whim, to rumor, to desires for revenge, to petty greed. And under such conditions, ‘justice’ becomes a tool of those in power as a means to maintain themselves and their ideology in power. Trust me (or at least trust history), that is not a society that anybody, even those on on the fringe left, want to live in.
So I am listening to the fire-breathing recriminations from politicians and media reporters and opinion writers, petition-signing lawyers, and so-called (liberal) experts with dismay. They really do not know what they are doing. And unless they come to some sort of enlightenment, we are in serious trouble.