Sometimes emotion—mourning in Palu, a sigh of relief in Chicago’s black community, anger by Kavanaugh at being called a rapist—is warranted, as even Mr. Spock the Vulcan learned on Star Trek. Missing in the Kavanaugh reportage, except on WORLD’s website, was some historical perspective. Oct. 13 is the 30th anniversary of the most controversial question ever asked at a presidential debate: In 1988 CNN’s Bernard Shaw asked Massachusetts governor and Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis a hypothetical concerning his wife: “Governor, if Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?”
Dukakis replied, “No … I’ve opposed the death penalty during all of my life.” Showing no emotion, he spent two minutes on policy analysis: “There are better and more effective ways to deal with violent crime. … Double the number of drug enforcement agents. … Call a hemispheric summit … drug education prevention here at home. …”
Dukakis campaign manager Susan Estrich was in despair as her candidate droned on. Later she said, “It was a question about Dukakis’ values and emotions. … When he answered by talking policy, I knew we had lost the election.” Had Kavanaugh not shown any anger, Democrats would have cited that as proof of his guilt, since an innocent man would have been outraged.
The left was certainly outraged by Kavanaugh’s gauntlet-running survival. As the Senate deliberated, several thousand protesters offered “Singing, Chanting, and Rage on Capitol Hill,” according to a New York Times headline. Some yelled “Whose court? Our court!” as they marched to the Supreme Court building. Some pounded and scratched at the doors. When U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, waved off a female protester as he walked toward a Senate elevator, she shouted, “Don’t you wave your hand at me. I wave my hand at you.”
At the campus where I taught for 20 years, the University of Texas at Austin, a half-dozen conservative students with “Confirm Kavanaugh” and “Witch Hunt!” signs for two hours faced a crowd that at lunchtime swelled to more than 100, many of whom chanted, “We believe survivors.” Some tore up the conservatives’ signs, indulging their urge to destroy, and contributed obscenities to the discourse.
As some Indonesian mourners flocked to church, two runners in the Cardiff (Wales) Half Marathon suffered fatal heart attacks at the finish line. As Kavanaugh joined the Supreme Court, some on the left were saying their faith in the Supreme Court—a stronghold that gave America nationalized abortion and same-sex marriage—was dead, as was their faith in the presidency. If they now join conservatives in limiting Washington’s power, America will survive the political marathon we are now running.
—with reporting from Indonesia by the Associated Press