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A seat at the circus

Senators, paid protesters play clowns at Kavanaugh hearing

A seat at the circus

Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Good news: The overall winner of WORLD’s 2018 Hope Awards for Effective Compassion is the Aquila Rehab Center in Hanoi, Vietnam! Aquila received 35 percent of the votes and will gain $10,000, which will go a long way in Vietnam.

The bigger story is that God’s irony triumphs once more. Fifty years ago the Tet Offensive was a turning point in the tragic war waged by atheistic North Vietnam and the Viet Cong against South Vietnam and U.S. forces. Now, a Christian ministry is helping to change the lives of addicts with results so powerful that even a Communist government sits up and respects what’s done in Jesus’ name.

Bad news: Harvest Prude’s first big assignment as WORLD’s new Washington reporter was to cover the Sept. 4-7 hearing on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination for a Supreme Court seat. On the first day she tweeted, “Marvin Olasky told us the great fun in being a journalist is ‘having a front row seat at the circus.’ Those words have never seemed more true than today.”

A circus it was: Ambitious senators grandstanded for television viewers. Prospective Democratic presidential candidates Cory Booker (New Jersey) and Kamala Harris (California) issued fundraising appeals. Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut) told Kavanaugh two months ago, “You don’t belong in this building as a justice. … I will be a ‘no’ vote,” but in September he said he needed “more time to review documents in a deliberative and thoughtful manner.”

It wasn’t an amateur circus, though. Peggy Nienaber of Faith & Action, a group that prays for officials, stood in line to get a seat at the hearing. She explained on WORLD’s podcast, The World and Everything in It, that left-wing activists went down the line and handed $50 to each person who signed up to scream and shout in the hearing room and then be arrested.

That’s exactly what happened in the hearing. One by one, on cue, the professional protesters stood and screamed. If they were slow to play their part, they received text messages: “Now. Yell now! Yell louder. Yell more.” Capitol Hill police then escorted out the protesters, took them to the police station, charged them for the disruption, and released them—about a four-hour deal for $50, which is not quite a $15-an-hour minimum wage, but life isn’t perfect.

What was a perfect nutcase storm broke out after lawyer Zina Bash, sitting behind Kavanaugh, rested her right hand on her left arm. One left-wing viewer of the televised hearings said she was giving a white nationalist gang sign, and dozens of others jumped on. Ironically, Bash is Mexican on her mother’s side and Jewish on her father’s—her grandparents were Holocaust survivors—and she’s had nothing to do with hate groups, but that didn’t stop the haters. Maybe humor worked best: One response tweet read, “Tomorrow she will be signaling Powerball numbers.”

With Aretha Franklin laid to rest on the last day of August, the funeral highlight of the first half of September was John McCain’s—and as is often the case in modern America, mourning for the dead gave way to attacks on the living. Meghan McCain, the late senator and war hero’s daughter, said, “We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness—the real thing, not cheap rhetoric.” She took a shot at President Donald Trump: “The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great.”

Use of the past tense like that—“America was always great”—reminds me of Merle Haggard’s 1981 song, “Are the good times really over for good?” Maybe not. September brought more good economic news. The gross domestic product, which grew 1.5 percent in 2016 and 2.3 percent in 2017, is on track for 3 percent growth this year. Worker satisfaction, income, and spending are all up.

But we do not live by bread alone, and many cultural indicators signal trouble. Child abuse and spouse abuse continue to soar, and a new term entered the national vocabulary: The former live-in girlfriend of Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., said he was guilty of “narcissist abuse,” the emotional suffering a self-centered person inflicts on his partner.

We also do not thrive in uniformity: September opened with more than 100 Facebook employees calling their company “a political monoculture intolerant of different views.” Tired of Facebook’s leftward tilt, they joined an online group, FB’ers for Political Diversity. At WORLD, we’re tracking corporate attacks on political and religious diversity—if you’ve been subjected to one, let us know.

But back to Peggy Nienaber of Faith & Action at the Kavanaugh hearing. She says some protesters asked her what she was doing in the hearing room. Her answer was, “I pray. … I silently pray and don’t look to get arrested.” The protesters, confused, walked away. But praying may be the best thing we can do during our current age of confusion.

Marvin Olasky

Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD and dean of World Journalism Institute. He joined WORLD in 1992 and has also been a university professor and provost. He has written more than 20 books, including Reforming Journalism. Marvin resides with his wife, Susan, in Austin, Texas. Follow him on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.


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  • RC
    Posted: Thu, 09/13/2018 02:53 pm

    It see sad to see that Judge Kavanaugh’s Senate Hearing is more about political posturing by a few democrats and fake protesters than confirming a supreme court justice.  I am thankful that I can get the true story here at World.      

  • DS
    Posted: Thu, 09/13/2018 10:32 pm

    This is sad. I wasn't born during the Clarence Thomas hearings, but when I heard about them recently, I thought they were bad. This just seems a whole lot worse. I pray that Kavanaugh gets into the Supreme Court.

  •  Greg Mangrum's picture
    Greg Mangrum
    Posted: Sun, 09/23/2018 04:21 pm

    Daniel, the Clarence Thomas hearing was worse. It was a rhetorical lynching by the Democrats. I recommend you read Thomas’s memoir My Grandfather’s Son. He recounts the episode with sobriety, maturity, and dispassionate hindsight. I recommend you also look on the Internet for the clip where Justice Thomas defends himself against their vicious attacks with spit and vinegar. It’s a smack down for the ages. 

    In Judge Kavanuagh’s case, the Democrats make utter fools of themselves, along with the protestors (collusion, anyone?), but other than stupid questions and libel—their attempts to smear him, as contemptible as it is, does not get near the bigotry or hatred that was directed toward Clarence Thomas, not to mention the false witness of Anita Hill.

  • DAD
    Posted: Sun, 09/16/2018 08:20 pm

    Thank  you, Marvin Olasky, for your last comment. "But praying may be the best thing we can do during our current age of confusion."   We who name the name of our Christ, have much power in our ability to pray, which also surely pleases our Lord.  Keep up  good work through World  and other outlets.  We are grateful to be able to read what you write!

  • Leeper
    Posted: Wed, 09/19/2018 09:29 am

    Thank you for a wonderful artical calling the Kavanaugh hearings exactly what they are "A Circus". One does not hear the truth in the main stream media.

  •  Xion's picture
    Posted: Wed, 09/19/2018 11:26 pm

    The polarization in America may be best summed up by Republicans who criticize the president saying “America was always great” and Democrats criticizing the president saying, “America was never great”.   So apparently Trump can add another win to his winning strategy, the unification of mortal enemies in American politics.

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Posted: Fri, 09/21/2018 11:59 pm

    All praise but World went along with the high tech hanging of Judge Roy Moore which led the left to think they could get Kavanaugh by putting forward these phony charges. We must understand that the Democrats have an evil agenda seeking to subvert anything good in our country. If we do not fight, we will find our religions liberties removed, our churches shut down, our kids taken away and us in jail. This fight is happening before our eyes with the Kavanaugh fight where the strategy is to delay the vote using “sexual assault” as the weapon, such that Kavanaugh never makes it to the Supreme Court. We cannot be naive on what this is about!

  •  Paul B. Taylor's picture
    Paul B. Taylor
    Posted: Mon, 09/24/2018 03:49 pm

    Kavanaugh will say that the assault on Ford didn't happen: Ford will say that it did.  Faulty memory of either?  I don't think so.  In the final analysis, someone is not telling the truth.  This is a symptom of the corruption in politics that reflects our lack of true religion that should be the buttress of every American's moral and ethical standards.  However, it use to be that everyone thought that those in the world of politics could not be completely trusted.  So, the real opportunity for conservative journalists is to use their pens to bring a greater reformation to the ethical standards in Congress.  We will make great strides toward true religion when we as Christians view Kavanaugh vs. Ford with serious scrutiny.