Column: Do we really want a man consumed with rage, self-pity and hate on the Supreme Court?
In his lenghty opening statement, Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh addresses accusations of sexual misconduct.
I wasn’t in that Maryland bedroom in 1982. You weren’t there.
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh says he wasn’t there. But after listening to every word uttered by his tearful, yet calm and respectful accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, and Kavanaugh’s combative, weepy refutation, I have no choice but to conclude she is credible and he is not.
He is not suited to a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Because of his self-pity and rage.
Because of the way he shredded the idea that he can be an impartial arbiter on the high court when he accused Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee of seeking “revenge on the behalf of the Clintons” and “left-wing opposition groups.”
Because of the insulting way he spoke to Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar when she asked whether he ever drank so much he could not remember what happened. (“You’re talking about a blackout,” he said in a nasty tone. “I don’t know. Have you?”)
Because he refused to give a straight answer about whether he would support an FBI investigation into Ford’s charges.
Because he interrupted Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal who was in the middle of asking a question, then had the cluelessness to say, “Let me finish.”
Kavanaugh’s anger may be understandable in a man who claims — hyperbolically — that his life and family have been “destroyed” by what he says are false allegations of sexual assault.
But they are hardly what we deserve or expect in a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, which has so much control over Americans’ lives, especially women’s.
Ford, 51, a psychologist who studies trauma, was a mesmerizing witness.
She seemed honest, and pained, and, as she put it, “100%” certain that the 17-year-old boy who threw her on a bed, ground his hips against her and covered her mouth so she could not scream was Kavanaugh.
She practically pleaded for an FBI investigation that would include the only witness to the alleged attack, Kavanaugh’s high school friend Mark Judge. Judge, who once wrote a memoir about his blackout drinking in high school, said in a statement to the Senate committee via his attorney that he has no memory of the event and never saw his friend behave in such a manner.
She spoke knowledgeably about the biological processes of how memory works.
When asked to describe her most vivid memory of the assault, she replied, “Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter, the uproarious laughter between the two and their having fun at my expense.”
Christine Blasey Ford on why the other witnesses don’t remember the party where the alleged assault took place: “Nothing remarkable happened to them that night.”
When she described the room where the alleged assault took place, and the loud music and the laughter of the two teen boys who were in cahoots, I believe that every viewer who has ever been assaulted probably had an unpleasant flashback. I know I did.
Like Anita Hill before her, Ford had wanted to remain anonymous.
But when she was outed, she said she felt she had no choice but to tell her story, knowing full well, as she testified, that the experience would be like stepping in front of a moving train, and that she would probably be “annihilated.” As she said this, however, she displayed not a whit of self-pity.
It was clear that Kavanaugh’s Judiciary Committee supporters don’t particularly care whether or not he assaulted Ford all those years ago at a high school party.
And they knew — all 11 men — that they could not trust themselves to come off as caring, so they hired Rachel Mitchell, an Arizona sex-crimes prosecutor, whose plodding questions seemed to infuriate them. They wanted fireworks. She was a wet blanket.
Their pent-up rage exploded after Ford finished her testimony. They sidelined Mitchell, and turned their wrath on Democrats, who were accused of withholding information in order to delay the confirmation until after the midterm elections, when Democrats have a fighting chance of gaining the majority in the Senate and could scuttle Kavanaugh’s nomination.
In tones verging on hysteria, they railed about the timing of the allegations (as if there is a good time to step forward alleging you’ve been attacked by a Supreme Court nominee).
I’ve never seen a theatrical outburst like Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham’s display of self-righteous anger, sparked by Democratic Sen. Richard J. Durbin’s simple assertion that if Kavanaugh truly cared about clearing his good name, he should want to have the FBI investigate Ford’s claims. “God help anyone else that gets nominated,” Graham said, forgetting that Neil M. Gorsuch was confirmed last year with barely a ripple.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said to Democrats on the panel: “What you want to do is destroy this guy’s life, hold this seat open and hope you win in 2020. You’ve said that, not me.”
Sen. Orrin G. Hatch’s outraged voice broke as he scornfully dismissed the idea that anyone would care what had happened in high school. And yet, Ford had very specifically discussed the “anxiety, phobia and PTSD-like symptoms” that she had felt, intensely, in the first four years after the assault, and intermittently thereafter.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, forgetting his recitation of “Green Eggs and Ham” during a Senate filibuster, called it “one of the most shameful events in the history of the United States Senate.”
Again and again, Kavanaugh, 53, was described by his supporters as a victim — not of Ford, because of course, it’s no longer acceptable to publicly attack a victim of sexual assault — but of Democrats.
Ford, they said, was a victim, too. Of Democrats.
Just as I believed Anita Hill in 1991, I believe Christine Blasey Ford.
I wouldn’t put Kavanaugh in jail for what he did when he was 17, but I sure as hell wouldn’t put him on the Supreme Court.
Get our Essential Politics newsletter
The latest news, analysis and insights from our politics team.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.