The GOP’s unearned moral indignation

Moral indignation is burgeoning again on the American right. Republican partisans are casting Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh as a victim of dastardly Democrats so depraved that they would forswear the presumption of innocence and gleefully assassinate a man’s character.

Their anger is mostly genuine. Yet at the same time, the story has clearly been an enormous relief for some Never Trumpers. For so long they were adrift, without a tribe. A moral degenerate had taken over their political coalition, despite having inflicted great cruelties on his family, cheated working-class contractors and customers at his sham university, lashed out at Mexicans and Muslims, bragged about groping women without their consent, and sycophantically praised some of earth’s most brutal dictators. He surrounded himself with corrupt cronies and debased himself with an almost daily stream of petulant, lie-filled public statements.

With the Kavanaugh confirmation, some Never Trumpers finally found themselves earnestly agreeing with their party’s mainstream in a high-intensity fight. What a salve to old friendships. What a fundraising opportunity for conservative institutions. What an impetus for motivated reasoning.