The mid-term elections and then 2020 will tell us a lot about the United States: Does the country more reflect Donald Trump or alternative values? Evidence yesterday, from Trump’s mocking of a sexual assault victim, to his defense of a dishonest cad of a Supreme Court nominee to a detailed exposure of his long-known dishonesty about finances, isn’t encouraging.
Among the developments:
* MISOGYNY: Trump led a rally in Mississippi for, of all things, a female candidate for U.S. Senate. The crowd reportedly laughed uproariously at his mockery of Christine Blasey Ford, who’s said she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. He repeated his own sense of victimization for being accused (without credible refutation) of assault by multiple women. Polling shows a majority of white voters believe Kavanaugh over Ford, men particularly, but also white women, 46-43. The Trump base is whiter than white, of course.
* FINANCIAL FRAUD AND DISHONESTY: To truly appreciate the New York Times’ vast exposure on the history of Trump’s wealth (He wasn’t self-made. Hundreds of millions came from his father, protected from taxes by fraudulent means.) you have to see it in the print edition. It is awe-inspiring reporting that covers eight broadsheet pages of the newspaper. It is not really news that Trump has cheated, lied or exaggerated throughout his business career. But using tax documents, the case is made beyond a reasonable doubt. There’s a good reason Trump hasn’t produced his tax returns, as he often promised he’d do during the campaign, to illustrate a turn to ethical behavior.
* A SUPREMELY UNQUALIFIED JUDGE: The Kavanaugh matter seems headed to a speedy conclusion if Sen. Mitch McConnell has his way. The FBI investigation has been cursory. It has questioned no victims of Kavanaugh or any of their corroborating witnesses. Republican senators have been slut-shaming one victim. They’ve been frantically digging dirt on Ford to mar the positive image she left with testimony last week. Additional details about Kavanaugh, though telling about his lack of honesty before the Senate, are going unnoticed. A police report shows he was in a drunken bar fight. More classmates have come forward to talk about his drunkenness. The New York Times even dug up a copy of a letter written in Kavanaugh’s own hand, signed “Bart,” a high school nickname he tried to distance himself from during Thursday’s hearing. The letter outlined a planned beach party.
In a 1983 letter, a copy of which was reviewed by The New York Times, the young Judge Kavanaugh warned his friends of the danger of eviction from an Ocean City, Md., condo. In a neatly written postscript, he added: Whoever arrived first at the condo should “warn the neighbors that we’re loud, obnoxious drunks with prolific pukers among us. Advise them to go about 30 miles…”
Again, his lies about high school and college debauchery are not disqualifying in themselves. Except they illustrate a long pattern of dissembling by Kavanaugh on matters much more important and relevant to his time as a Kenneth Starr assistant and White House aide — his “credibility chasm,” this article calls it. Even Benjamin Wittes, who was a beneficiary of Kavanaugh’s leaking during the Starr years and wrote a book generally defending the Whitewater persecution, says now he couldn’t vote to confirm Kavanaugh.
Who best represents the American idea then? Donald Trump? Brett Kavanaugh? Or someone else? The MAGA rally in Mississippi and the inclinations on display in Arkansas don’t portend the answer I’d prefer.