I have no serious doubt that Christine Blasey Ford told the truth to the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. But let’s be as charitable as we can to Brett Kavanaugh. It is conceivable, as I suggested parenthetically in an earlier post, that he was also telling the truth as best as he could remember it. He was drunk. The incident was not much out of the ordinary for this boozing, bawdy 17-year old; no big deal. After all, nothing happened: he didn’t even get her bathing suit off her! The encounter with an insignificant 15-year old girl could have faded from his memory.

More likely, Kavanaugh does have at least a vague memory of the incident. He could have come clean, admitted that something like what Ford described could have happened, apologized profusely and affirmed that he is not the person he was at 17. But once he denied the whole thing, he felt compelled to stick to his story.

Continuing in our effort to be charitable, let’s acknowledge that, innocent or guilty, Kavanaugh has been through a harrowing ordeal, one that has surely been devastating for his family. So, the emotion he displayed yesterday was undoubtedly genuine, in good part. I couldn’t help feeling a little bad for the guy. But whatever sympathy we might feel, there should be no misunderstanding: his performance was execrable. Not just because his answers were frequently evasive or not credible. His self-righteous belligerence, his wild attacks on “the left” and on the Democrats for conspiring to destroy him were apparently unhinged, but probably calculated. He was announcing to the world, but particularly to his co-partisan Republicans, that he is a warrior, a spear-carrier for the right. His confirmation would be the final blow to any illusion that the Supreme Court is a non-political institution.

The fact that so many of the Congressional Republicans seem genuinely to share Kavanaugh’s apocalyptic view of the proceedings reflects the cluelessness of the aging white males who dominate their party in this age of #MeToo. It is also reflects the radicalism of today’s Republican Party, whose leaders have no qualms about subordinating the legitimacy of the Court to the exigencies of political warfare. I’ve said it before but I don’t mind repeating myself: we cannot have, will not have, a decent politics in this country without a dramatic transformation of the Republican Party. That’s not going to happen until the GOP suffers a series of historic, crushing defeats at the polls. It needs to start in November 2018.


  1. Jeffrey Herrmann September 28, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    Perhaps he was so drunk, he doesn’t recall doing it. Perhaps he once remembered doing it but that created such cognitive dissonance with his angelic self image that he has repressed it.
    But why is he so patently terrified of another FBI investigation? It suggests conscious awareness of guilt over one or more acts in the past that would disqualify him in everyone’s eyes.
    Personally, I think Kavanaugh recognized his dilemma. He could tell the truth and confess to a felony in a state with no statute of limitations. Or he could lie under oath. It is so much harder to prove perjury than sexual assault that has been publicaly admitted. Lying was the best way to avoid the risk of jail.

  2. Mel Brender September 28, 2018 at 4:07 pm

    I spent the entire day watching the hearings yesterday, and came to three conclusions:

    First, I agree that he may not remember attacking Ford, but I think he himself suspects that he probably did. This explains his evasiveness and frequent inability to answer some questions at all.

    Second, although I also know that we all see what we want to see, but I’m astounded that right-wingers would still think he was temperamentally qualified to sit on the Supreme Court (or any court, for that matter) after his performance yesterday. To me, he seemed irrational, unable to speak clearly and logically, and quite un-judicial.

    Finally, I don’t buy the whole ‘ordeal’ thing, except as an admission of guilt: If he really were the choir boy/eagle scout he claims to be, then the horrible accusations the various women have been making would lead to a different reaction: An innocent man from his social class, hearing such charges would sadly shake his head, and perhaps express sympathy for victims who clearly have mistaken him for someone else.

    After all, he is not exactly among the downtrodden. He grew up with privilege, had every advantage, and has reached the apex of his field. His anger and self-righteousness conveyed a sense of impunity. Nothing has ever stood in his way before. How dare they even question him! Drinking problem? What drinking problem? His response to Senator Klobuchar was most telling.

  3. Richard Pious September 28, 2018 at 5:36 pm

    Kavanaugh’s choir boy veneer has been stripped away. He represents the worst of the preppie culture, the jock culture, the DKE fraternity culture, the Yalie club culture, and the country club culture from which he comes. As Trump said prejudicially of Mexicans, I will similarly say of Kavanaugh’s circle, “and some of them I’m sure are good people.” Yes, but the technical political science term for the bad ones is “entitled pissants.” If this is supposed to be the best the establishment can put up, heaven help us. As far as his qualifications, let’s face it: the kind of legal doctrines he espouses would have been laughed out of court for the first two-hundred years of the federal judiciary.

    I just hope the country knows the difference, as LBJ once put it, “between chicken salad and chicken shit.”

  4. Donald Campbell October 3, 2018 at 9:52 am

    I read an opinion piece today the which hypothesized that if Kavanaugh is not confirmed it will energize republicans to go to the polls and perhaps negate the expected ‘blue wave.’

    In my view the court has been de-legitimized since Bush vs. Gore and there is little hope that even a balanced supreme court will have the courage to make decisions which benefit anyone besides the wealthy and powerful.

    Perhaps the forces of the digital age have pushed us beyond the usefulness of traditional democracy and a new way of viewing social institutions and human nature is necessary. However, regardless I believe that evidence based discussion and decisions will always be necessary.

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