What’s left to say about Montana Republicans? They endorse white supremacists, they enthusiastically cheer for a President who has admitted to sexual assault on tape, and they vote against kids with disabilities to pay for tax cuts for millionaires. They support policies ripping children from their parents and fete adulterers and violent, dangerous men while using their professed Christian faith as a cudgel against people who love and live differently than they do.
Over the past decade or so I’ve wondered when they would hit rock bottom, the nadir of their depravity. Thursday’s response to Professor Christine Ford’s testimony by Senator Steve Daines and Senate candidate Matt Rosendale demonstrates that waiting for them to hit bottom is a futile task, as there is clearly no limit to how low their abhorrent views and politics are.
Following hours of courageous testimony and cross-examination of Professor Ford, neither Daines nor Rosendale could wait even a few hours before calling her a liar and insulting sexual assault survivors across the country.
Senator Daines didn’t even wait two hours after the hearing ended to accuse Professor Ford of being a part of “an orchestrated smear campaign” against Brett Kavanaugh, while Matt Rosendale claimed she was part of “smear process plain and simple (sic).”
Their statements might have been more slightly more nuanced than that of a Fox News contributor fired for his remarks today, but their statements betray their commitment to the idea that Professor Ford lied as part of a strategy to destroy the Kavanaugh nomination, not to mention a fundamental disrespect for survivors.
Neither man even extended the political courtesy of feigned concern for Professor Ford, who for the sake of the nation, faced the same kind of cruel skepticism and disbelief that keeps sexual assault survivors from coming forward. Neither man expressed any concern about a Senate “investigation” that didn’t include an FBI investigation into three sexual assault allegations, witness testimony, or even the possibility of corroborating evidence.
Neither man cared more about decency and the truth than they did about political aspiration and posturing.
They didn’t listen to Professor Ford, they didn’t listen to the other women who came forward at great personal risk to share their stories, and they didn’t wait to listen to Montanans. And they didn’t wait for the American Bar Association, which had this to say after today’s hearing:
“The basic principles that underscore the Senate’s constitutional duty of advice and consent on federal judicial nominees require nothing less than a careful examination of the accusations and facts by the FBI.
“Each appointment to our nation’s Highest Court (as with all others) is simply too important to rush to a vote,” Carlson wrote. “Deciding to proceed without conducting additional investigation would not only have a lasting impact on the Senate’s reputation, but it will also negatively affect the great trust necessary for the American people to have in the Supreme Court.”
Rosendale, who makes much of his Catholic faith, also didn’t wait for the editors of America, a Jesuit magazine that had previously endorsed Kavanaugh to say:
If Senate Republicans proceed with his nomination, they will be prioritizing policy aims over a woman’s report of an assault. Were he to be confirmed without this allegation being firmly disproved, it would hang over his future decisions on the Supreme Court for decades and further divide the country.
And it’s important to remember that this isn’t only time Daines and Rosendale have thrown their enthusiastic support behind someone who committed an act of sexual misconduct. Both men have unreservedly supported President Trump, who has been accused of sexual assault and harassment by nineteen women. Both men endorsed Judge Roy Moore of Alabama, someone whose behavior was so despicable that even Lindsey Graham called for him to drop out of a Senate Race, extending their support after other Republicans abandoned the ethically and morally compromised judge.
I’m not in a position to understand what would make these two men so eager to not only defend those who have engaged in sexual misconduct but to call their victims liars, but it is clear to me that neither deserves the honor of representing Montana.
Because of the cowardice and moral bankruptcy of people like Steve Daines and Matt Rosendale, it’s quite likely that Brett Kavanaugh will be seated on the Supreme Court, but today’s hearing—and the Republican response to a victim of sexual assault—is only going to increase the force of the wave that is going to wipe men like Daines and Rosendale from power for good.
And it’s about damn time.