Incivility in Washington

This is written on Friday before the scheduled vote Saturday for Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to be an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court. Protesters are on the streets and in the halls of Congress in Washington, D.C.

It appears that Kavanaugh has garnered enough of the previously undecided votes to squeak out a narrow victory — but it promises to be close.

What is most disheartening to us is listening to some of Kavanaugh’s elderly male supporters dismiss the sexual assault charges against the nominee with a virtual shrug:

Sen. Orrin Hatch shooed away a group of protesters while entering an elevator with a wave of a hand and told them to “grow up.”

Sen. Charles Grassley noted on Fox News on Friday that the protesters were “a reflection of the incivility of American society generally.” He then added, “I think it’s also evidence that people will go to any lengths when they are encouraged by people on Capitol Hill.”

And then, of course there was President Donald Trump himself making fun of Kavanaugh’s accuser at a political rally in Mississippi on Tuesday night:

“How did you get home? I don’t remember. How’d you get there? I don’t remember. Where is the place? I don’t remember. How many years ago was it? I don’t know.”

Trump’s crowd just laughed.

Let’s remember that the accusation involved a sexual assault. We’d agree with Sen. Grassley on one thing — our politics have definitely become more uncivil. We can’t imagine any of the politicians of the Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Carter or Reagan eras using a sexual assault for punchlines at a political rally.

We also can’t think of any majority party of those eras proceeding with a vote on a nominee without a full, untethered investigation by the FBI of serious allegations.

Things — the rules of the game — have changed in Washington. And not for the better. Grassley may term it incivility — we’d term it crassness and an unbridled pursuit of political power, no matter what the cost.

Unfortunately, there are no signs that we are going to return to more civilized ways.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.

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