Michael's essay: The Republican Party 'seems to actively hate women'
Anyone foolish enough to spend a lifetime as a reporter becomes, over time, marinated in the practice of listening to people telling stories.
And listening to people telling lies.
In courtrooms, police stations, legislatures, boardrooms, schoolyards or in the quiet confines of a living room, the people tell their stories and the reporter makes notes.
Listening to the stories and the lies can have a corrosive effect. Ultimately you come to feel that on God's good earth, everybody lies much of the time or most of the time.
You come to believe or dismiss based on instinct, experience, intellect and the nervous fluctuations of the human gut, the most perceptive lie detector of all.
Watching the eleven Republicans as they sat mute in front of Professor Ford, a reporter had to wonder why the party of Lincoln seemed to actively hate women.- Michael Enright
The reporter tries to find what measure of available truth lies discreetly hidden in the stories people tell.
On Thursday, I watched a middle-aged woman with thick horn rims and unruly blonde hair sit in front of one of the most powerful deliberative bodies on the planet and reveal to the world the grimy details of the most painful experience of her life.
In a tremulous voice, Christine Blasey Ford cleared her throat and said, "I am terrified."
She cleared her throat again and began reading from a prepared statement.
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She talked about another moment of terror at a high school drinking party many years ago when she was 15. She said something happened that night "that drastically altered my life."
Her voice shaking, she said on that night she thought she would be raped. On that night she thought she might be killed.
In the face and voice of the middle-aged woman, a reporter could hear the voice of a 15-year-old teenager.
When she was asked what was the most indelible moment that has echoed in her thoughts over the intervening years, she replied, "the laughter." The laughter of two young men in a bedroom as one of them lay on top of her.
Watching the eleven Republicans as they sat mute in front of Professor Ford, a reporter had to wonder why the party of Lincoln seems to actively hate women.
The Republican Party has a storied history of trying to curtail the rights of women.
Republicans have tried, and in some cases succeeded, in limiting women's reproductive rights. They have actively opposed legislation that protects women, argued against pay equity and many other issues.
The party's leader in the Senate campaigned against renewing the Violence Against Women Act. In an election campaign in Missouri a few years ago, the GOP candidate talked about "legitimate rape."
Last year in a special election, the Republican president called for support of a candidate in Alabama with a history of stalking young girls in shopping malls.
This history is the larger canvas that women across the U.S. can recognize.
On Thursday, it was on full display in the hearing.
Political troglodytes like Republicans Chuck Grassley and Orrin Hatch — who, by the way, participated in the evisceration of another female professor 27 years ago — stood their ground.
They would ignore Professor Ford's allegations and vote for the nominee. On Friday, the committee voted as expected, to send the nomination to the full Senate for debate and vote.
On Thursday, I watched as a middle-aged woman with a shaky voice, in quiet dignity and modest demeanour, sat before eleven Republican men, many of whom would destroy her.
With grit and will power, she held herself together in that ancient room and told the haunting, living truth.
Click 'listen' above to hear Michael's essay. Click here to hear Michael's 2006 interview with Anita Hill.