Friday, September 28, 2018

Democracy, truth, apple pie and other pretence

Dissimulation is at the very least chicanery. For even the most practiced magician it is a stunt which threatens not only strategic publicity but more acutely one's inner sense of peace and personal authenticity.  Just as pride ("hubris") has quickened the downfall of many in the past so too is retribution a casualty of mendacity. It is therefore not surprising that we offenders (since I include us all in this sometimes unfortunate characteristic) seek to cover or purify our initial mis-step. What gets in the way of this Heaven-bent amelioration is that we as often employ the same sham proclivities that got us into the mess in the first place. In the end the masquerade can only be overcome by the frozen truth, a legitimate but potentially uncomfortable resort. It is important to assert that even if successful in marketing the deceit, it will continue to plague its originator for years to follow.

The unanticipated and precipitous decision today of the Republicans in the Senate judicial committee of the United States of America to order a "supplemental" FBI examination of the circumstances surrounding the allegation of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Michael Kavanaugh is a case in point. This seeming high-minded detour is however fraught with many of the same polarized motives which have typified the battle between Democrats and Republicans throughout this hearing. For example, President Donald J. Trump (and his henchman Senator Lindsey Olin Graham) were initially vociferous about avoiding the Democrats' request for such an investigation.  But knowing as they do that their political survival may well turn on the matter in the upcoming November mid-term elections, Trump (no doubt reluctantly) agreed to what the Senate Republicans were pressured into doing by the refusal of retiring lawmaker Senator Jeffrey Lane Flake to vote in favour of the nominee without the further FBI investigation.  Flake (who is renowned as an adversary of Trump - and who I fully suspect is luxuriating in this farewell finger to Trump) had the support of other Republican mid-stream conservatives. Meanwhile die-hard absurdist Senator Addison Mitchell McConnell, Jr. well understood that the Republican 51/49 majority was in the balance; his focus is always politics not policy.

In the end the authorization of what every clear thinking person has for weeks sought may paradoxically work in favour of the erstwhile recalcitrant Republicans. If the FBI investigation (which is unable to subpoena witnesses to speak to them because it is not a criminal investigation) simply regurgitates what is already known, the apparent delay will nonetheless afford the Republicans (whose mindset is already painfully clear) the gloss of purity as ill-gotten as it was.

The Democrats too stand to gain no matter the outcome.  As with most instances of political inclination, voters are already decided.  This latest development will quell anxieties while preserving what they thought from the start.  The blunt truth of politics (like trench warfare) is that the commanders-in-chief care little about the casualties (in which I include Kavanaugh and Ford) as long as they can fulfill their own agenda and ambition (which I hardly need say only includes "truth and fairness" to the most unimpeachable mind). Thus while the appearance is that this seething conflict between Democrats and Republicans is about to elevate to a higher moral ground, it is nothing of the sort. Even Flake who is wallowing in selfless accolades is a potential presidential candidate in 2020.

It is likely that if anyone has a genuine concern about "the process" (as Judge Kavanaugh so regularly identifies it) it is he, Kavanaugh, beyond whom no one has proven to be more partisan. As part of his testimonial regarding the Ford allegations he unhesitatingly labelled the entire proceedings revenge by the Democrats for having lost the 2016 election, effectively derailing his personal inadequacy as a political gambit. Even if this were an accurate description of the Democratic agenda it fails entirely to contaminate what was universally called the "credible testimony" of Ford. But it goes a long way to poison Kavanaugh's suitability for the highest court in the land, not to mention the scenery of the Supreme Court itself. Kavanaugh's career is all but ruined already (as he prophetically stated in his testimony yesterday). Recovering the trust of his wife and daughters is the least of his metastasizing cancer.  The only similar vortex is the maelstrom currently surrounding the Pope and the Roman Catholic church. The rhetoric of institutions is under attack.

But the universe is ultimately personal.  As gripping (or merely entertaining) as these proceedings may be, in the end we are confined to the more immediate suburbs of our own mind.  In keeping with that inferior preoccupation I was moved today during our constitutional morning cycle to contemplate the advantages of hometown. This is especially apt as I am now hearing from many to whom I chance to gossip casual comments about being away for the winter, escaping the snow and its reputed preference.  To these aspersions I always hasten to interject that I have a boundless preference for my hometown whatever the weather. Though this may sound as legitimate as a politician praising the value of truth and knowledge, the irrefragable fact is that nothing competes with the inner peace and solicitude of hometown. This is so even on the threshold of municipal elections - when the horizon is polluted with election signs and it is easy to become animated by less than moral adjudications. Descending into the muck of daily encounters and political differences it is regrettably duck soup to defile the textbook advantages of democracy, truth and other apple-pie metaphors.

But the admission of this truth is no different from the avowal of any other. In spite of the competition which may prevail the irrefutable reality is that when it comes to the deepest feelings of comfort and oneness, there is nothing like the veneer that surrounds one's early life, the insinuation of habit, landscape and overall familiarity. It is as much an error to disguise this truth as it is to cultivate any other lie. It's unbosoming may however be just as raw. Exploring the visceral issues of politics and sexuality is surpassed only by the query whether one sits or stands to wipe one's bottom.

1 comment:

  1. Bill,
    Your writing is Interesting and full of insight as always.
    I find it difficult to watch or listen to the unfolding events regarding the Supreme Court nominee.
    I told a number of my lady friends that I would undergo a sex change to show my true level of support...which was greeted with gales of laughter.
    All comedy aside it is a difficult time to be an American and live with the endless chaos of Trump.