Not politics as usual — it is political pyromania

Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, prepares for a television news interview on President Donald Trump’s embattled Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Her arguments against Kavanaugh illustrate the no-holds-barred political climate.

One of the dubious advantages of a Supreme Court nomination battle is how it brings into the open some of the vicious, ideological arguments that are normally hidden by shame and discretion. That has certainly been true on the right, with some figures demonstrating a callousness toward the charge of attempted rape that would presumably change if their own children were even remotely threatened.

On different issues, this has been a revealing moment on the left as well. Asked this past weekend by CNN’s Jake Tapper if Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh deserves a presumption of innocence, Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, offered a curious response.

She argued that Kavanaugh’s denial of sexual misconduct is less credible because “he has an ideological agenda that’s very outcome driven, and I can sit here and talk to you about some of the cases that exemplify his, in my view, inability to be fair in the cases that come before him.”

Hirono added: “He very much is against women’s reproductive choice. … So there are so many indications of his own lack of credibility.”

It is not easy to unpack an argument that was packed so haphazardly. But Hirono appears to be contending that Kavanaugh is more prone to lie about sexual assault because his approach to judicial interpretation is extreme and deceptive, and because he is probably opposed to Roe v. Wade. These beliefs, she seems to be saying, are indications of bad character.

At one level, this is an indication of an outcome orientation that has seized partisans on both sides (including Hirono) in the Supreme Court/culture war/cage match politics of our day. Given the stakes of…

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.