GOP: Gang of Putzes


No matter how cynical you get, it is impossible to keep up.

The spectacle of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court reminds me of that Lily Tomlin quote.

Is there anything more ironic than a Supreme Court nominee, chosen explicitly to repeal a woman’s right to control her own body during pregnancy, accused of sexually assaulting women?

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The traditional gender hierarchy does not look askance at sexual assault; it’s merely someone with a penis terrorizing someone who doesn’t have one.[/pullquote]

Is there anything more cynical than a US Senator, anxious to deprive women of abortion rights, announcing in advance of hearing a woman’s testimony that he intends to “plow right through” and ignore it to confirm Kavanaugh?

Surely there’s nothing more contemptible than a President who is a self-proclaimed sexual predator (“Grab them by the pussy!”) declaring Kavanaugh “is one of the finest people that I’ve ever known.”

The Republican Party, which came into being as the party that championed black rights, has evolved into a party that champions “mens’ rights.” Its moniker GOP stood for Grand Old Party, but now more accurately represents Gang of Putzes, men who seek to punish women for having sex while lauding men for the very same thing.

Wait, what? Abortion is about the “lives” of the unborn? Surely you jest.

As sociologist Kristin Luker has written:

While on the surface it is the embryo’s fate that seems to be at stake, the abortion debate is actually about the meaning of women’s lives.

Or as anti-choice columnist Ross Douthat explained recently in the New York Times:

…As much as opponents of abortion claim to care about the killing of the unborn, the argument goes, in reality abortion restriction is a means to a different end: The restraint of women’s choices, the restriction of their sexual freedom, their subordination to the rule of fathers and husbands and patriarchy writ large.

Opposition to abortion has a relatively recent history and it didn’t start with Roe v. Wade. Evangelical Christians, now the leading exponents of the anti-choice movement, did not seem especially concerned about abortion in the wake of the Court decision.

…Few evangelical leaders publicly condemned or even commented on the Court’s action; Religious Right leader Jerry Falwell, for example, did not preach against abortion until 1978… But as leaders … pushed the issue, more and more evangelicals in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s began to view abortion as a unique evil requiring mobilized opposition…

…The opposition of Christian conservatives also stemmed from their commitment to traditional gender roles. They interpreted feminists’ abortion advocacy as part of their larger antagonism to conventional families and motherhood itself… Falwell regarded the Equal Rights Amendment and abortion as coupled threats to God’s designed gender hierarchy


“Simply stated, the man is to be the provider, and the woman is to be the childbearer,” wrote Beverly LaHaye, who founded Concerned Women for America in 1979. “Motherhood is the highest form of femininity,” she argued, but “radical feminists” spurned their maternal calling by defending abortion.

The ugly truth is that the GOP opposes abortion rights not because they value the lives of the unborn (white, black, brown); we know they don’t since they eagerly promote contempt for many of those same lives black and brown lives after birth. The GOP opposes abortion rights because it is threat to traditional gender hierarchy where those who have penises are free to terrorize those who don’t.

And that’s why — as McConnell has signaled — it almost certainly doesn’t matter how compelling the testimony of Prof. Christine Blasey Ford might when she recounts the alleged assault. The vicious way she has been treated (she’s had to go into hiding because of death threats) is just another example of women being punished when they dare to deny their subservience to the desires of men. The traditional gender hierarchy does not look askance at sexual assault since it is merely someone with a penis terrorizing someone who doesn’t have one.

Republicans should think carefully before they make the fateful mistake they seem determined to commit. As Ross Douthat noted:

…Even if it wins its long-desired victory at the high court and more anti-abortion legislation becomes possible, a pro-life cause joined to a party that can’t win female votes and seems to have no time for women will never be able to achieve those legislative goals, or at least never outside a very few, very conservative states. And having that long-awaited victory accomplished by a male judicial appointee confirmed under a cloud of #MeToo suspicion seems like a good way to cement a perception that’s fatal to the pro-life movement’s larger purposes — the perception that you can’t be pro-woman and pro-life.

There is nothing in Republican Party philosophy that mandates brazenly ignoring sexual assault or cavalierly dismissing women’s right to control their own bodies. Senate Republicans could easily request an FBI investigation of Blasey Ford’s claim and Kavanaugh’s denial as was done in the case of Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas. They could easily refrain from prejudging the testimony of both. They could easily let their consciences be their guide instead of their desperation to be re-elected.

In other words, the GOP could choose to be the Guardians of Probity, not the Gang of Putzes they have been up to this point.