I’ve reviewed some riveting TV dramas, but last week’s US Senate Committee hearings were up there with the best of them.
I don’t know whether Judge Brett Kavanaugh or Dr Christine Blasey Ford is telling the truth, or whether one or both were deceptive, delusional or mistaken, but I’m taken aback to hear people pronouncing so decisively and judgementally on one side or the other.
Which side people come down on seems dependent more on the political affiliation of the commentator than on anything evidential.
On last Friday’s Morning Ireland (RTÉ Radio 1) Republican commentator Matt Clink was firmly in the Kavanaugh camp, but he thought both had been victimised in this “calculated plot” to delay the nomination. He found both contradictory testimonies credible, reckoned something had happened to Dr Ford when she was 15, but suggested there was a lack of corroborative evidence to prove that Kavanaugh was the culprit. Ultimately he believed the Democrats had made it all about abortion.
Later that morning, on Today With Seán O’Rourke (RTÉ Radio 1), it was the turn of journalist Marion McKeone who found Dr Ford’s testimony “extremely credible”. She thought Judge Kavanaugh wasn’t credible in relation to his drinking habits in school and college, but said if he was innocent he had “every right to be angry, upset and emotional”. Overall she thought it was all an “angry, bitter, recriminatory, sorry mess”, with no winners.
McKeone appeared again on that evening’s Last Word (Today FM), when she was much more critical of Kavanaugh (“an entirely not credible witness”). She argued the toss with conservative journalist Cal Thomas – their regular sparring at least ensures a real debate. Whatever the case, I did agree with presenter Matt Cooper that the current controversy displayed a desperate polarisation in American public life. Thomas agreed, criticising both sides and saying it was all about conflict not resolution, but Cooper scolded him for suggesting the political left engaged in the nastiness more that the right – saying that this in itself was a partisan stance.
Whatever the rights and wrongs it’s pretty clear, as Matt Clink suggested, that it’s largely about abortion – if Kavanaugh is appointed there is the hope (or fear, depending on your point of view) that the Roe vs Wade decision that ushered in abortion on a grand scale in the USA will be overturned. Some vocal feminists and liberals cannot tolerate the idea that they might not be free to have their unborn children killed.
And maybe the issues at stake go broader than abortion to a conflict of worldviews. I was reminded of this when I heard Democratic Senator Cory Booker on the live CNN coverage suggesting that Dr Ford was telling “her truth”. This captured the spirit of relativism and subjectivity that is at the heart of divisive identity politics. Surely there is only one truth as to what exactly happened?
The abortion battleground at home is still simmering on, with the media being rather low key about it, as we edge ever closer to the disaster of abortion legislation. On the News At One (RTÉ Radio 1) on Wednesday of last week, the Minister for ‘Some People’s’ Health Simon Harris TD strained credibility – he said “maybe it’s an old fashioned idea but I believe when you campaign and tell the Irish people if they vote in a certain way you’re going to do something, that you go ahead and do it”. Funny enough he didn’t apply that principle when he originally got elected touting his pro-life credentials and then proceeded to support an abortion bill.
He was asked about concerns around the three-day waiting period (or stay of execution, if you’re the baby), but not about the conscientious concerns of doctors who face being forced to refer for abortions. He also got away with the pro-choice fiction “we sent them abroad”.
Newstalk promoted the ‘March For Choice’ at the top of their News Headlines last Saturday morning, and again it was the main headline at 6pm, the report including Choice marcher Simon Harris.
Was this more important than the lives lost in the tsunami in Indonesia? And when will any interviewer challenge the march slogan “free, safe and legal”? It’s never safe for the baby, and are people really happy about it being free (i.e. tax payers’ expense) when so much life enhancing health care is so expensive and hard to access?
Pick of the week
EWTN, Saturday, October 6, 10 pm
The Most Rev. Robert Barron, live from Brooklyn, New York, to celebrate the silver jubilee of the Magnificat.
MY COUNTRY, MY FAITH: IRELAND
EWTN, Wednesday, October 10, 7 pm
‘The Eucharist, the greatest saint and the little girl’ – Fr. Owen’s guest, Jacky O’Hagan tells the moving story of Little Nelly.
PAT KENNY’S BIG DEBATE: WELFARE IRELAND
Virgin Media 1, Wednesday, October 10, 10 pm
Post Budget 2018, Pat Kenny and panel debate Ireland’s welfare system with a live audience.