Oct 26, 2018
As I think about the Senate hearings on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court, the entire affair takes on the look of a monstrous distorting mirror where Americans could see reflected certain large realities that now darken our national life. Start with politics, surely the most obvious of these.
The political arena has always been a rough-and-tumble place where the spontaneous response to whiners was, "If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen." But the Kavanaugh hearings marked something different and ominous. Here was hateful evidence that American politics has become a take-no-prisoners blood sport. Central to how that happened are the culture war and especially the epic struggle over abortion.
Abortion was at the heart of the Kavanaugh fight, with pro- and anti-abortion groups pulling out all stops. Consider the efforts by NARAL Pro-Choice America. Strenuously opposed to Kavanaugh from the start, NARAL, which claims 2 million members, mounted a major campaign that included a 'town hall' teleconference featuring two senators, Kirsten Gillebrand (D-NY) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and participation, according to NARAL, by 11,000 of its people. And NARAL was hardly alone.
Unavoidably, all this placed further strains on another central theme of the hearings: the tenuous state of man-woman relations.