Kavanaugh and bad faith

I really like that there is a growing consensus among Democratic pundits, elites, bloggers, etc., that today’s Republican Party is fundamentally characterized by bad faith.  You know, it’s not actually going to sway many voters (“hmmm, those Republicans are always acting in bad faith, I’ll vote for Democrats”– nope), but it very much affects how Democratic politicians interact with and respond to Republicans.  And, the more that Democratic elites are consistent in this line, the more this should eventually shape media coverage to reflect that Republicans are acting in bad faith.

Of course, in today’s issue du jour, it really is no exception.  EJ Dionne on Kavanaugh:

In light of the experience of Anita Hill in the 1991 hearings over Justice Clarence Thomas’s nomination, Ford and her lawyers realized that the encounter could become a show trial — of her. They pointed out that some Republican senators had already written her off as “mistaken” and “mixed up.”

So her lawyers told the committee that she wanted an FBI investigation before she testified, which would allow potential witnesses to be interviewed — including an alleged witness who notified the committee that he does not want to testify.

And it is at this point where the suspicion that Republican senators are acting in bad faith cannot simply be dismissed as partisan bias against Kavanaugh.

They argued that the FBI does not undertake such investigations, which was patently untrue, because the FBI went back and investigated Hill’s allegations. The Trump administration could ask for such an inquiry, just as George H.W. Bush’s administration did in the Thomas case 27 years ago.

They expressed outrage that a vote might be postponed by, say, a week or two. This came with little grace from Republican senators who left Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat on the court open for one year and 53 days because they would not even hold a hearing on President Barack Obama’s last nominee, Judge Merrick Garland.

Republicans hate it whenever anyone brings up Garland precisely because the episode is such a clear demonstration of their determination to muscle their way to an ideological majority on the Supreme Court. Hurtling toward a vote on Kavanaugh before November’s elections is part of the same effort. Lisa Banks, Ford’s lawyer, issued a statement Wednesday evening saying, “The rush to a hearing is unnecessary, and contrary to the Committee discovering the truth.”

I would not suggest that Democrats never act in bad faith.  But, as with so much in politics, there is a severe asymmetry going on here, and, unfortunately, the nature of trying to succeed as a political party with widely unpopular policies and let by an incompetent, dangerous blowhard, seems to really incentive bad faith.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

9 Responses to Kavanaugh and bad faith

  1. Nicole K. says:

    Yeah, this is one thing that drives me nuts about the GOP. They spent the entire first half of the Obama administration lamenting the lack of regular order through the congressional committees. Then when they gained control they doubled down on bypassing regular order in favor of ramming their agenda through without debate.

    To me, it’s fundamentally dishonest to say one thing when you are out of power and do another when you are in power. The GOP does this on a regular basis with deficits, judicial appointments, tax policy, health care, and many other issues. It’s like they don’t really want people to know what they are doing until it’s already a done deal and we’re stuck with it. I just don’t think that’s how a democratic government should operate.

    • Mika says:

      When I realized that the “Georgetown School” is a prep school I instantly remembered the stories you Nicole have written about your experiences. Everything was so much clearer after that.

      • Nicole K. says:

        Yeah, prep school is a world that only rich people and people who have attended or spent time at very elite colleges know much about. I got an education that was worlds above anything I could have gotten at a public school or private school where I lived (unless I had attended the Asheville School, which I briefly considered and took the SSAT that most elite schools use to evaluate perspective students. I wouldn’t have traded that experience for anything. However there’s a very dark side of the culture surrounding the culture at these schools. My experience was, for the most part, very positive for me.

        However, that isn’t the case for everyone. For example, my sister couldn’t deal with the culture at the school. Coming from a middle class family, absolutely made things really difficult. Some of the kids who could basically buy anything they wanted whenever they wanted, especially among the girls, could be excessively cruel in their judgment of kids who couldn’t keep up with clothing and other stuff. It lead to my sister leaving in the spring semester of her freshman year after attempting suicide. She finished high school at the public high school in Asheville.

        Eating disorders were so common among the girls at my high school that they were sometimes referred to as “the Mercersburg flu.”

      • Mika says:

        Thanks for sharing. I’d guess that I didn’t even know that there are boys only prep schools in USA like Great Britain. I was aware about the military schools but they’re a bit different aren’t they.

        We’ve got nothing like that here in Finland. There hasn’t been exclusive girl- or boyschools in Finland since the 1970’s. Nowadays there are more schools that have some kind of special emphasis like for music, or sports or visual arts. They’re not quite elite schools but schools where talented musicians, athletes or artists get some extra tutoring in their respective talents. At sport schools for instance the school days are organized so that the athletes can have their training and rest sessions before or during school day in a way that they – studying and sports – don’t have bad effect on each other.

        There was one high school that was considered to be a sort of elite school in my home town, Lyseo: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyseo_Upper_Secondary_School

        Three Finnish presidents (out of 12) studied there and one of them is a Nobel peace prize laureate so… I guess that’s something. How it differs from elite schools, in a way I understand prep schools are, is that money plays absolutely no role in admission. After ninth grade students apply for high schools and if there are too many students trying to get in to a certain school they rank the students by their ninth grade diplomas and the best get in. If you compare the last students that get in to different schools the last student at Lyseo always has the best diploma. I had a diploma good enough to get in to Lyseo but the thought never crossed my mind. Didn’t think it was something special. Actually me and my friends, we more like ridiculed the Lyseo students – who do they think they are 🙂

        I don’t know if there were differences in cultures between my hometown high schools. Probably not much anyway. Some boys harassed girls sexually in my junior high (age 13-15), mostly groping, but I don’t think that anything to do with our schools culture. It could be that it happened mostly at 7th grade and by 9th it didn’t happen anymore, at least not so openly. In our high school days me and my friends did drink a bit but also that had nothing to do with school culture. Part of growing up more like. Now some of my friends who have high school aged children say that they don’t drink nearly as much as we did. What’s up with the youth nowadays.

      • Nicole K. says:

        Yeah prep schools are mostly coed now, but there are still some that are all-boys or all-girls. The are private schools with a majority of the students living in dorms on campus. There’s a significant contingent of international students (especially Koreans) and students doing a post graduate year. Those are kids that have already graduated from high school and usually athletes that one of the military academies are interested in, but need another year to prove themselves academically.

        The tuition at these schools is similar to an elite university, so last I checked it was over $50,000 a year for tuition. But they also have a huge endowment (my school has at least half a billion dollars in its endowment), so they give a lot of financial aid. So there’s about 1/3 of the school that is either international, having their tuition covered by one of the military academies, or on scholarship, but the rest of the students come from some of the wealthiest families in the nation.

        There’s now a planetarium on campus, a football stadium with astroturf field and retractable roof, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, and a state of the art performing arts center. If you’re curious, check out http://www.mercersburg.edu

      • Mika says:

        Wow. That was something that school.

      • Nicole K. says:

        I hope you took the virtual tour to get the full effect. =) http://www.mercersburgacademy.org/360tour/

      • Mika says:

        Thanks there was so lot of stuff that I didn’t notice that but… that’s amazing.

  2. R. Jenrette says:

    No surprise, is it? The GOP has for a long time, as an underlying theme, supported the idea that the propertied and monied elites should be in charge as they know best what’s good for the country. The U.S. is a republic, after all, with democratic elements. The push toward authoritarian rule has gotten stronger until the place in which we find ourselves now.
    Historically, the American people have stopped short when the right has overplayed its hand. We will see if there is strong democratic pushback when the 2018 election votes are counted. Let’s hope the voting and the counting are not hacked.

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