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.