The president of the United States is now directly attacking a woman who has come forward with allegations of sexual assault. He is quite experienced at this.
On Friday morning, after a week of media elites damning his “restraint” on the issue with faint praise, President Trump predictably used his Twitter account to debase Christine Blasey Ford and the Democrats who believe her. The Palo Alto University psychology professor came forward publicly last weekend to echo what she told Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein: That D.C. Circuit Appeals Court judge and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh allegedly sexually assaulted her when both were prep-school teenagers.
One might expect that a president who himself stands accused by at least 20 women of various acts of sexual misconduct would paint the accused as a victim, all while asking how come this alleged crime wasn’t reported to authorities when it happened. If the alleged incident was “as bad as she says,” Trump wrote, Ford surely filed charges with local law enforcement, right? She was 15 at the time, but what about her parents? Where are those filings, he wondered, giving an amateurish performance of actual concern. “Why didn’t someone call the FBI 36 years ago?” he asked Thursday night in Las Vegas and again on Friday morning.
Some believe that Trump’s tweet was part of a coordinated White House response to Democrats “repeatedly moving the goal posts” on Kavanaugh. That hasn’t actually happened, though.
The allegation was revealed in a July letter to Feinstein, who sought to protect the anonymity of her California constituent by withholding it from even her Democratic colleagues on the Judiciary Committee. The left, along with Ford, has pressed for the same FBI investigation that Anita Hill’s claims received when she accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in 1991. That investigation only took three days. But it had to be ordered by the president, and Trump refuses to do so. Trump has dialed his gaslight to full brightness, falsely claiming that the FBI doesn’t do these kinds of investigations. By attacking Ford like this, the president risks further animating voters sympathetic to women’s issues ahead of a midterm election with a record number of female candidates.
Here, as always with Trump, the politics and patriarchy are intertwined. This president appears to be a singular misogynist, after all, exacerbating the nation’s systemic gender inequities with his policies and giving quarter to those who mistreat and objectify women. He is a conspiracy theorist willing to promote insanities about Muslims, Mexican immigrants and his predecessor, but appears seemingly unable to believe that a man could be guilty of violence towards women. Well, as long as he knows and likes that man.
Trump described Kavanaugh Friday morning as “ a fine man, with an impeccable reputation.” Previously, he has been even more hyperbolic, calling the Supreme Court nominee “one of the finest people I’ve ever known.” In the past, he has showered similar kinds of accolades on accused abusers like Mike Tyson, Bill O’Reilly and the late Roger Ailes. Before he ran for president against Hillary Clinton and marched out her husband’s accusers as a cynical pre-debate stunt, Trump called them “a really unattractive group” in 1998 after Bill Clinton admitted his extramarital affair with Monica Lewinsky. “I think he’s terrific,” Trump added at the time. “I think the guy’s terrific. I just hate the way he tried to get out of this mess.”
Getting out of this is all Trump is worried about now. When all he knows how to do is deny sexual assault allegations, offensive defense is his only play. This only makes it more evident that the Republican side of this controversy is no longer about whether or not Ford is telling the truth. It never was. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, speaking Friday morning at the ironically named Values Voter Summit, declared that “in the very near future, Judge Kavanaugh will be on the United States Supreme Court.”
Mitch McConnell: “You’ve watched the fight. You’ve watched the tactics, But here’s what I want to tell you: In the very near future, Judge Kavanaugh will be on the United States Supreme Court… Don’t get rattled by all of this. We’re gonna plow right through it and do our job.” pic.twitter.com/nmVJVHvrVV
— CNN (@CNN) September 21, 2018
The Republicans in charge of the Senate Judiciary Committee aren’t inviting Ford to testify so that they may further investigate the matter and possibly administer any consequences. They are setting up a high-stakes version of a cable news panel, a “he said, she said” for the ages. It’s all spectacle to conceal the fact that virtually none of them care whether or not Kavanaugh actually sexually assaulted Ford. They only care about getting Kavanaugh on the bench, by any means necessary — possibly because he is likely to provide the fifth and decisive vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. Never mind the woman who says that she was sexually assaulted at 15. They do this, they claim, in the name of saving children.