Based on her experience, integrity and judicial record Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is qualified to serve on the United States Supreme Court.
Her confirmation hearing should be a breeze, but these events are not rational explorations of a candidate’s suitability to serve as a Justice. They instead become events in which the constitution is used as a cudgel to hammer the nominee. In Judge Jackson’s case this is being skillfully accomplished by Republicans using misinformation, half-truths and outright lies.
This prompts a question: have truth and facts become passé in American politics? I fear so, but hope not. Truth should be the starting point for any public debate. But how do we discern truth amongst the debris of massively-funded misinformation campaigns? We can find it in facts.
Truth Hidden in Fiction
Or, it can be hidden in a true story presented in a fictional genre. Such a story is what follows. The characters are three United States Senators. Their dinner conversation is fiction, but their words reflect their public statements. The setting is a dark corner of BLT Prime, a steak restaurant in Washington, D.C.’s Trump International Hotel. Those at the table are Republican Senators Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and Josh Hawley.
Cotton begins the conversation with a question: “What do you think about our hearing for Biden’s affirmative action appointment?” Cruz responded, “This is a gift. She is qualified, but that isn’t the issue. The issue is how we use the process to discredit Democrats. We must raise every hot-button subject, stir up our base and attack Democrats. Discovering the truth is not our goal. Our goal is to derail Democrats. To accomplish this, misinformation is our most useful tool. It confuses the undecided and solidifies our base. I will start the process by tying her to Critical Race Theory (CRT).”
“Yes!” said Hawley. “I am going after her for coddling pedophiles. QAnon has done a great job of painting the Democrats as participants in a pedophile cabal. We can fan that flame in the hearing. Our base will love it, and it might move some of the undecideds into our column.”
“Good points,” Cotton observed. “I am going to scour her as soft on crime. I’ll tie Democrats to ‘Defund the Police’ rhetoric, and blame them for violent crime. We need to beat them down in the hearing with our culture-war weapons.”
The Real Republican Target
Hawley added, “We need to keep our focus on the real target: President Biden and Democrats. We can raise scary things like CRT, pedophilia, crime, drugs, inflation. The other side can’t fully respond because they want to keep their focus on Jackson.”
“You are right” Cotton responded. “Our issues are immune from cogent responses because the facts can’t be explained in a tweet, and most people don’t take the time to fact check. We don‘t need to explain complicated issues, but merely wave them as red flags. The goal isn’t to stop a confirmation. It is to win an election.”
“Right!” said Cruz. “Democrats argue facts. With most issues, if we argue facts, we lose. CRT and racism? Climate change? Early childhood education? An improving economy? Democrats have rational, factual responses on all of these issues. But the base doesn’t want facts. They want short answers and to be told who is at blame for failures. Let them blast us for lying and misinformation, but it doesn’t matter. Whenever The Washington Post awards me a Pinocchio for spreading false information, my base applauds. They think I am being tough on the mainstream media.”
What About Ukraine?
Hawley, looking concerned, asked “What about Ukraine. World leaders are praising Biden. You can see in the polls that Americans are beginning to respond to his leadership. We must turn that around.”
“Again, you’re right,” Cruz said. “We will blame him for the war by creating the impression that he is too feeble to lead the world, and that his weakness encourages Russia.” Cotton asked, “What about the tradition that ‘politics stops at the water’s edge’ in war time? Do you think people will turn against us if we criticize the President right now?”
Hawley shook his head, “No, not if we do it right. Our base covets anti-Obama rhetoric so we will remind people of his failure to respond to chemical weapons in Syria. And about that foolish deal with Iran. Then we go after Biden and his son, tying them to a corrupt Ukraine. The rule that politics stops at the water’s edge will be reinstated when Trump or one of us is President.”
Cotton said, “Look over there, guys, Tucker Carlson is heading our way. Come and join us, Tucker.” Carlson pulled up a chair. Cruz reached across the table and shook his hand, saying “You are doing a great job of keeping our misinformation circulating. You are the best mouthpiece any group of conspirators could possibly have. We want you to continue in your role as a lickspittle for Trump and for us. This role is a perfect match for you.”
Where will this story end? The final chapter will be written by the American people. Do we buy into the lies and misinformation, or do we stand up, do our homework, and challenge those who want to end the American democracy? It is up to you.
Bill Jamieson’s career has included leadership positions in business, government, and education. He was also an ordained deacon in the Episcopal Church and his ministry centered around advocacy for low-income families and children.