“Boofing” refers to the “art of keeping the bow of your kayak from diving underwater,” according to paddling.com. Like most salacious media debacles, Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation affair has left us with plenty of new terms in the modern political lexicon. “Boofing” and “Devil’s Triangle” — which were featured in Kavanaugh’s Senate testimony — will now join “Hanging Chad,” “Access Hollywood” and “Pizzagate” on the list of odd phrases regularly trotted out by incensed talk show types. And, like most media debacles of the past, it has also left us with anger.
On Oct. 6, the Senate voted 50-48 to confirm Kavanaugh as the new Supreme Court justice. Anger has characterized the entire process, from Kavanaugh’s well-publicized rage to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)’s absurd histrionics and furious op-eds, including one in which the author rants about wanting to “dismember men with her fingernails.” The entire country seems trapped in “28 Days Later” mode, and it hasn’t abated yet. E.J. Dionne Jr. of The Washington Post declared that “democracy itself is at stake,” and Charles M. Blow of The New York Times literally titled his op-ed “Liberals, This is War.” My favorite New York Times op-ed, by Alexis Grenell, calls female Kavanaugh supporters “gender traitors.” Grenell says she wasn’t entirely sure of Sen. Susan Collins’ (R–Maine) words.
“I couldn’t even hear through my rage headache,” Grenell wrote.
Really? This is the kind of rhetoric that spawns triggered feminist memes and makes alt-right trolls cackle with glee. And to what end? Maybe, as some Democrats are predicting, it will lead to that Blue Wave we’ve been hearing about for months now. But more likely, it will prove to be nothing but yet another crack in our fractured country.
I was surprised by the fury displayed by all sides. I’ve heard comparisons to President Donald J. Trump’s election, after which there was a sense of shock, disappointment and, yes, anger. However, comparing the two situations is like comparing apples and orangutans, as Trump’s election was a legitimate shock to some. Additionally, he came off as a wholly unqualified wannabe-tyrant; he was all vulgarities and empty threats. On the other hand, Kavanaugh, before his accusers came forward, was a straightlaced, eminently qualified judge with a sterling track record and a notable number of female clerks, not one of whom had ever complained about any kind of workplace misconduct. According to a Morning Consult/Politico poll, support for Kavanaugh among Republican women dropped from 60 to 49 percent after the allegations emerged. Comparatively, a FiveThirtyEight poll from 2016 shows that 73 percent of Republican woman still believed that the GOP should support Trump after the release of his “grab them by the p***y” “Access Hollywood” tape. Those are two very different responses, and they only prove that partisan anger has increased since 2016. I’m sure that many women, especially sexual assault survivors, are truly incensed by the allegations and by Kavanaugh’s demeanor. I’m equally sure that plenty of political sharks have gone mad at the scandalous chum of these accusations and won’t stop until they’ve tasted blood.
Part of this may be that Trump’s comments came slightly before the Me Too movement. Part of it may be the optics of the situation — a drunken, fratty Kavanaugh certainly makes for an unappealing picture, much like a predatory Trump — but I think that the real origin of the fury was that in this scenario, the subject of the accusations was already all but confirmed for his position. According to a 2016 FiveThirtyEight forecast, Trump only had a 28.6 percent chance of victory. On the other hand, an easy Kavanaugh confirmation was expected until the allegations first broke. Suddenly realizing the precariousness of his appointment, both sides unleashed every tactic in the book.
Jonah Goldberg makes some good points in National Review, notably that Kavanaugh had a right to be angry. I don’t know if Kavanaugh lied about sexually assaulting anyone, but I do know that, for the rest of his life, he’ll be Rapist Kavanaugh first and Justice Kavanaugh second. His daughters will be the daughters of a monster; his wife will be a “gender traitor.”
Another point that Goldberg makes is that the Democrats couldn’t conclusively prove that Kavanaugh was a sexual assaulter, so they tried to prove that he was a beer-soaked boor; a rich, privileged frat boy; and the walking embodiment of the White Male Establishment — that nebulous entity holding sway over our political systems. Was he all of those things? Very likely. Does that disqualify someone from the Supreme Court? Maybe. It’s certainly a much trickier question than asking if Kavanaugh is a rapist. Liberals couldn’t answer that one, so they came up with another one and answered it, hoping that their fury would drown out the opposition.
Kavanaugh’s outburst indicates that he thought that fighting fire with fire was the best policy. I’m not sure how well it worked for him. I liked him a lot more before he started spouting off about how this whole thing was “revenge for the Clintons” (who are starting to look like this century’s Rothschilds). Even so, his family is destroyed and every single one of his verdicts from here on out will be accused of illegitimacy. Some victory.
I’m not entirely sure who emerged victorious. Really, no one escaped the media meat grinder unscathed — not Kavanaugh, not Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), not the Republicans and not the Democrats. Poor Christine Blasey Ford’s life is in shambles, even as Democrats hold her up as a quasi-angelic figure of empowerment. People found guilty in the court of public opinion can never truly win — just look at Woody Allen. Both Ford and Kavanaugh faced threats, intimidation and fear these last few weeks. They’re both linked inextricably to this tawdry moment in our history. When people think of them, they’ll think of this. At least Michael Avenatti got his 15 more minutes of fame.
Our country is looking more and more boofed by the hour.
Stephen Altobelli (22C) is from Westminster, Mass.