It has taken a bit of time for me to digest the Kavanaugh Saga. Any time I wanted to write something down, new stories arose, prompting me to absorb more information before responding. I think much dust has settled from the previous skirmishes let us call them, although the battle and indeed the war are far from over.
I have responded to some part of what has unfolded with friends in a private forum. At the very beginning of Kavanaugh’s hearing I had not much to say because it seemed like typical pro-swamp behavior on Capitol Hill headed by our dear Swamp-Thing-in-Chief. I was never charmed by Mr. Kavanaugh and I’ve always detested his reluctance to answer questions directly. He simply brushed off questions about correspondence that suggested he had been getting senator questions beforehand. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who you may recognize from the Anita Hill hearings, wrote an op-ed that lays out a very thorough merit-based argument as to why Kavanaugh is not an appropriate pick. I am most unsettled by Republican efforts to block documents about Kavanaugh’s history which does not appear to have happened for other contentious Supreme Court nominees by Democrats that Republicans opposed. I am surprised to learn from this article that Sen. Leahy voted for John G. Roberts, which is quite a capitulation if you ask me.
Kavanaugh totally bombed the initial hearings, in my humble opinion. He couldn’t even stick to everyone’s favorite script line of “If the law told me to jump off a building, I’d do it”. He should have been wise enough to read the room and at least try to portray himself as non-partisan.
Upon first hearing of the name Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, I was appalled by what at first glance looked like the game the Democrats played against Mr. Clarence Thomas, that of smearing someone at the last minute accompanied by the most mysterious shroud of confusion over whether or not there were witnesses to the heinous crimes described or people who can support her claims in other ways.
A Brief Aside On the Subject of Collaborators
I must again contrast this current event with Ms. Hill’s situation. There was a supposed “Other Woman” named Angela Wright who also has stories about Mr. Thomas’s inappropriate behavior. I had kept hearing of possible other witnesses, but I decided to finally look into Angela Wright, whose name kept appearing as I searched. However in reading an article where she is interviewed, I was struck dumbfounded by the following direct unedited quote of Ms. Wright’s:
I am not sitting here and saying to you that I was sexually harassed by Clarence Thomas.
I… think neither Wright nor Hill, both former employees of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, understand the meaning of the term “sexual harassment”.
How is this not a jaw dropping statement? Kudos to the writer for journalisticly jotting down everything the interviewee said. The thing is, you can stop taking Angela Wright seriously right there. If you’d like though, you can continue reading so as to get a better understanding of the confusion. She thinks sexual harassment must include shame that you go home about and write about in your diary as opposed to sexual harassment being the kind of thing that the EEOC is responsible for legally defining, and I am quite sure that those in the department who understand this would consider what Wright described to be sexual harassment.
She is unaware of how when Florence George Graves asked her if Mr. Thomas “made any statements to her that she considered inappropriate” and when she responded “Yes” and then proceeded to detail a number of sexual comments or other kinds of “uninvited and unannounced” things, like an non-requested nighttime apartment visit, that she was outlining instances of sexual harassment. But Ms. Wright wants to be very clear that she was in fact not sexually harassed. So… nothing to see here?
Back to the subject at hand…
I was unsettled by the nature in which these accusations of sexual assault by Kavanaugh against numerous women suddenly manifested, especially given how long ago the events occurred. Initially, I was against an FBI investigation because of how sudden and unsubstantiated all this was. However, what has unfolded since Dr. Ford reluctantly came forward has been an avalanche of BS from both sides that has indeed required such an investigation. I am not sure that such an investigation ever really happened, despite Republicans wanted you to think that a very through one occurred. Looking at it all now, I cannot help but to note substantial holes in both of their stories…
Ford provides too little corroboration
As I said, Dr. Ford’s “corroborating” witnesses were in an odd kind of situation where there was and for some there continues to remain confusion as to whether or not they support Ford’s claims. It would seem that none of them have any recollection of the event Ford describes. No one even confirms the existence of this party.
Take the curious case of Leland Keyser: friend, I think, of Dr. Ford. It seems that Kavanaugh had originally been using her statement in his defense because she said that she did not recall being at such a party nor did she know Kavanaugh. However, Keyser later sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee clarifying that she did indeed believe Dr. Ford even though she cannot corroborate. Well… that’s great. I am quite sure her friends believe her, but I can cross Keyser off the list of potential corroborators.
In fact, you will be hard pressed to find statements by anyone corroborating the existence of the party or any of the other individuals. This is in stark contrast to the chatter preceding the final hearings.
We can throw out the boat attack story
A witness to the allegation that Brett and Mark sexually assaulted a woman on a boat appears to have recanted. The witness originally said that after confronting the attackers, he realized one of them was Kavanaugh after recognizing him from his “yearbook photo on TV over the weekend”. He now says he did not actually recognize either attacker as the Brett we know and cherish.
Kavanaugh downplayed his drinking
It really didn’t help that he proclaimed his fondness for beer on numerous occasions. Apparently, the man really likes beer. The way he failed to display candor or decorum during Senator Klobuchar’s question when he kept asking her if she herself ever drank until she passed out instead of just saying “no” or “yes” to this question when asked betrayed how he felt uncomfortable diving too much more into the subject of things he did while drunk. The confusingly-named Senator Whitehouse had questions about phrases in Kavanaugh’s yearbook that were fairly entertaining, as were Kavanaugh’s defenses. The meaning of “Beach Week Ralph Club Biggest Contributor” seems pretty clear at this point, especially when everyone is in agreement that “ralph” in this instance means “hurl”. It was silly for Kavanaugh to say that it was in reference to a weak stomach. If he had such a weak stomach, like me, he would not be drinking so much beer. If he thinks he’s only puking so much because of a weak stomach and not because of how he’s drinking so much beer, then he is in great denial. Not a man who exercises good judgement.
Kavanaugh may have been trying to get ahead of the Deborah Ramirez story
The most damning thing about Kavanaugh I’ve found that should indeed be of great concern to both sides is that although he told the committee that he had only learned about Ramirez’s accusations after the New Yorker article came out, there is strong evidence that he not only new beforehand of what Ramirez was about to say publicly but that he was trying to get ahead of the story. It just goes to show how very inappropriate this man is for judging others, let a lone in such a high court.
Ford’s therapist notes do not appear to mention Kavanaugh
The questions that the Republican’s prosecutor, Rachel Mitchell, asked of Ford were very illuminative. The resultant memo is also a recommended read. It would seem that the only therapist notes that the prosecutor, who happened to be female, referred to spoke of an attack by four individuals. Ford quickly mentioned that that’s not what she told her therapist and that the therapist wasn’t concerned about “facts” as much as “process”. She also said that she clarified to the Washington Post reporter how there was one assailant, although she admitted to erroneously attributing multiple people as bystanders to the assault.
The prosecutor also asked questions about whether or not Ford showed the therapist notes to a Washington Post journalist she spoke with. It seems that Ford mentioned to the journalist that she had such notes but Ford does not recall sharing them.
There is no way Ford was unaware of the Committee’s proposal to send people to her
First of all, anyone watching the news was aware of this proposal. The right kept using it in their defense against accusations that they were forcing her to fly in an airplane, something which she was supposedly fearful of due to claustrophobia, but see my notes later on that. Ford very surprisingly said that she was hoping to have the committee visit her but she realized that was an “unrealistic request”. The Republican senators seem to strongly disagree. They claim that Ford’s side refused to have them come visit her as an alternative. In fact, Ford’s lawyers were not comfortable when Mitchell asked if Ford was told about the offer to come visit her. I am strongly suspecting that Ford’s lawyers, apparently counter to Ford’s actual desires, did not want the committee to come out, as they don’t want any elaboration on this dispute from what I can tell.
Quite remarkably, Ford very clearly states that she appreciated the senators offering to visit her and that she “wasn’t clear on what the offer was”, that she would have “happily hosted” the senators and/or their staff, it just wasn’t “clear to [her] that that was the case”… despite that this was being talked about on TV quite a bit. It was a talking point of the right that they were willing to do this to avoid the fanfare. The specific reason for why this didn’t happen is something that Ford’s lawyers would not want anyone to know, oddly.
A related oddity that I just can’t drop: Somehow, there was chatter in the press about Ford’s fear of flying and how this was one of the lasting impacts of the assault on her life, but Ford’s answers to Mitchell’s line of questioning clearly demonstrate that Ford flies frequently (tongue-twister of the times) to places I myself am too afraid to fly like Costa Rica and Hawaii. She will fly for both work and vacation, regularly. Despite this, she says her friends had to help her “build up the gumption” to fly from California to Washington?
To be clear, I am equally annoyed with Dr. Ford’s indifference towards making a solid case as I am toward Kavanaugh. I hold them under equal standards as academics. They both want to be treated differently whenever they request it. I will only view both of them as strong, independent rational thinkers and I will critique them as such. I’m sad to say I was disappointed in both sides for either directly obscuring the truth or allowing/directing their entourage to do so.
And so… justice was totally not served. All this started as a farce and is ending as such. Now that we have a few decades ahead of us for retrospection: Sit Back, Relax, and Have a Kavanaugh™.