Yesterday, I saw a tweet that perhaps best encapsulated the current mindset of President Trump and the Republican Party when it comes to respecting those who have potentially been the victims of sexual misconduct. While I can’t find the exact tweet, the argument was that the only people Donald Trump has ever expressed any real empathy for are men accused of sexual assault. Not migrant children, not those living in poverty, not the actual survivors of sexual assault. Just powerful men who must face accusations about their behavior.
That desire to protect men accused of sexual assault or misconduct has been a constant refrain for President Trump, whether it was his defense of Alabama Judge Roy Moore or his current defense of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
The concern for the rights of rich, white men accused of sexual misconduct doesn’t end there, though. Trump and Republicans in Montana, without evidence, without a hearing, without even a moment’s consideration, have steadfastly maintained that the women bringing accusations against these men are lying.
That contempt and distrust of women has reached its apogee in the case of Professor Christine Ford, who bravely came forward with her story about an attack she says she experienced at the hands of Kavanaugh when both were teenagers.
A brief look at social media reveals the typical gallery of misogynistic Republicans in the Legislature sharing factually inaccurate claims about Professor Ford that were almost certainly first produced in St. Petersburg and the typically nuanced commentary from Senator David Howard, a man who has lied about his professional career his entire political career:
Former Senator Jason Priest, who assaulted his ex-wife and daughter just a few years ago, opined that Kavanaugh was the victim of a smear and should just be confirmed, while Senator Jennifer Fielder shared that because Professor Ford is a liberal, her charges are politically motivated.
Standard, depressing, repulsive stuff from the political party that regularly works to undermine the autonomy of women. Why would their reflexively calling a woman coming forward with sexual assault allegations a liar surprise anyone?
But what truly infuriated me Tuesday night was reading the opinion of a former Montana political operative best known for killing a Montana politician in a drunk driving incident before lying to law enforcement officers three times, blaming the person he killed for the causing the crash, and then having the sitting governor of the state of Montana launder his clothing before it could be entered into evidence.
His hot take on Professor Ford’s allegation:
He [Trump] should have picked Amy Barrett in the first place, not that I condone this character assissination (sic) of a very good man that is one of the most perfectly orchestrated, timed and executed political hits in the history of political hits.
It’s interesting that this former political staffer is so quick to throw stones. Back in 2001, when he was sentenced for his crime, he was given a six-year deferred sentence for felony negligent homicide even though he told the police three times that his victim had been driving the car, arguing that the “psychological shock” of what he had done caused him to forget. The former political staffer, who seems to have no empathy for Professor Ford’s “psychological shock” following an alleged sexual assault that happened when she was 15 years old, was not charged with lying to the police nor obstruction of justice, even though multiple witnesses reported that there was an extensive effort to cover up just what happened that night.
I’m not going to name the former political staffer here, because those who follow Montana politics already know who he is and I’m not sure that he’s exactly a public figure in the state these days, but it’s absolutely disgusting that someone in his position, who’s had his experience, and who professes to have become a better man because of a horrific tragedy, is so willing to dismiss an allegation made by someone who, unlike him, had no motivation to lie. Professor Ford, who has received death threats after coming forward, has had to leave her home and hire private security because Republicans are so willing to believe that a woman would make up a sexual assault charge to derail Kavanaugh’s nomination that she’d jeopardize her safety and that of her family.
It’s infuriating that a powerful man who escaped real criminal responsibility for his actions is so quick to ascribe a dishonest motive to another potential crime victim.
We should listen to Christine Ford. We should listen to Judge Kavanaugh. But we absolutely shouldn’t exist in a political system that is so morally bankrupt and unbelievably vicious that even those who have themselves committed heinous acts, feel no hesitation about potentially revictimizing someone who suffered a traumatic experience as a teenager.
They debase our politics, our institutions, and our discourse at every turn. While we debate what it will take to wrest the Republican Party from the crude indignities of Donald Trump, perhaps we’re asking the wrong question. Maybe the issue isn’t what Trumpism has done to Republicans at all, but why it took so long for them to choose someone who reflects exactly what their views are.