The Washington Post's veteran chief correspondent Dan Balz perfectly described the atmosphere in Washington on Monday when he wrote that "the circuits of government and politics are overloaded.
There is too much happening at once. Everyone is at battle stations awaiting the latest development, the latest accusation, the latest meeting, the latest tweet, the latest counteroffensive - ready to pounce, and often to reach premature conclusions."
As a swamp veteran, I've learned that when things seem on the brink of disaster, and there is too much noise, and the news coverage is only adding to the confusion, a good way to get reoriented toward reality is to focus on what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is saying and doing.
McConnell is a rare political phenomenon in that he always thinks before he talks, and he always has a plan. So his remarks on Monday on the Senate floor concerning the Kavanaugh nomination serve as an oasis of clarity in an otherwise sea of steaming vitriol. I recommend watching McConnell's remarks in their entirety, but this is the essence of it: "This is what the so-called 'Resistance' has become. A smear campaign, pure and simple. Aided and abetted by members of the United States Senate. . . . And I want to make it perfectly clear - Judge [Brett] Kavanaugh will be voted on here on the Senate floor."
Speaking of a "lodestar" in Washington - a la The New York Times' anonymous op-ed published a few weeks ago - it will be useful to remember McConnell's words as the story surrounding Kavanaugh's confirmation continues to develop up until Thursday's hearing. McConnell is Kavanaugh's lodestar.
In the meantime, the second claim against Kavanaugh, as outlined in the New Yorker by celebrity reporters Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow on Sunday night, is so unconfirmed and at times almost comically unconvincing that Republicans are now thinking the flimsiness of the second story actually diminishes the original accusation made by Christine Blasey Ford. And Republicans are in fact looking forward to welcoming the entrance of Stormy Daniels' lawyer and wannabe 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Michael Avenatti onto the stage.
Republicans see Avenatti, who says he represents a third woman with allegations against Kavanaugh, as human graffiti who has splattered himself on the side of the dumpster fire that is Washington politics today.
We have lived for ages in an unsatisfying world of "he said, she said" where corroborating recent claims - to say nothing of those from three and a half decades ago - was already hard enough. But at least there was a mutual acknowledgement of some form of burden of proof. Today, many on the left seem to think that "she said, he's dead" is the answer. Really? Suffice it to say that as Thursday's hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee approaches, things are not becoming any clearer or any more balanced.
One thing is certain: Much damage has already been done. The tension in America has reached new levels. The division and acrimony that infest our politics are boiling. I'm not sure if it is creating a vacuum or building pressure to explode. But I don't see how our politics cools down and this political era ends well. Thursday is just one more step toward calamity.