Everyone remembers “Get busy living, or get busy dying” from Shawshank Redemption. We don’t always remember another pair of quotes that, today, are particularly apropos:
I. The concession from Red (Morgan Freeman) that “hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.”
II. The written response from Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins): “Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
Many of us are wrestling with those two conflicting positions this morning, and while I’ll admit to being cynical and sarcastic at times —I SAID AT TIMES!—I really am generally hopeful. On days like this, of course, the challenge is greater.
But for those of us who held out hope that some elected officials would come through in the end even though they never had before (even with health care, it was only John McCain), we simply move on to the next battle. I will not diminish the significance of this last loss—trying to put a positive spin on Brett Kavanaugh is like, well to use a banality from a decade ago, like putting lipstick on a pig. In the end, you still have a pig.
But I take some solace this morning in the fact that many of the Republicans voting to confirm Kavanaugh know that he is unfit for the job. Partisan as they may be, they cannot unwatch the spectacle of September 27, 2018: a man out of control, screaming and whimpering through a job interview, in front of a national TV audience. That will stay with him, and it will be resurrected every time one of his decisions goes against the Democrats or abrogates the rights of women. And his enablers—most of whom are not without conscience or sensibility—will learn to admit that their fear of losing a re-election bid or incurring the wrath of the king outweighed their duty to the Constitution. Let them live with that. And let them live with their brazen dismissal of Christine Blasey Ford, who is the only hero of this piece, and the most damaged victim
As for us on the sidelines, as Tom Petty sang “It’s time to move on, time to get going/What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing.”
Tom Petty died just a year ago, but my reference today transcends the lyrics of one song. There’s a lesson in his music: constancy. Tom Petty songs from the 80’s sound a lot like his songs from last year because, for him, they were the right sound. In like manner our beliefs in the basic goodness of man, in the progress of civilization, in the stewardship of the environment, and in the human rights of all people—in short everything missing from the sensibilities of Trump, Kavanaugh, McConnell, and their ilk—should continue unaltered. The tactics may have to change, but the overriding philosophy cannot.