At the end of this commentary, I will ask a question of Republican Senate Judiciary Committee members.
After watching several moments of the committee’s hearing with sexual assault victim Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, followed by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, several things stood out.
The Obvious –
After several weeks of only reading about Dr. Blasey Ford’s allegations, the committee hearing was the first time the public and most on the committee got to see and hear her emotional testimony, including her statement that she is “100 percent” certain that Kavanaugh assaulted her. Even President Trump characterized Ford as “very compelling” and “credible.”
Often repeating himself, Kavanaugh came off defensive, even combative as he shouted at Democrats during his opening statement.
Most Dramatic Moment –
The drama during the hearing paled in comparison to a confrontation committee member Jeff Flake faced when he was cornered by two victims of sexual abuse.
“What you are doing is allowing someone who actually violated a woman to sit in the Supreme Court,” Ana Maria Archila, co-executive director of a left-leaning advocacy group for women, said.
As CNN cameras caught the exchange, another woman addressed Flake even more forcefully.
“You’re telling all women that they don’t matter — that they should just stay quiet because if they tell you what happened to them, you’re going to ignore them. You’re just going to help that man to power anyway,” she added, weeping.
Flake appears both shaken and speechless as he looks down.
“Look at me when I’m talking to you! You’re telling me that my assault doesn’t matter, that what happened to me doesn’t matter and that you’re going to let people who do these things into power! … Look at me and tell me that it doesn’t matter what happened to me — that you’ll let people like that go into the highest court in the land!”
While Flake voted with the majority in the committee to allow Kavanaugh to move forward to a full vote in the Senate, the retiring senator said that he would not offer a final vote on the nominee without an additional FBI investigation into Ford’s allegations.
Off the Rails –
Lindsey Graham went completely off the rails in his own false outrage at Democrats.
As CBS News reported (Sept. 27), “ ‘If you wanted an FBI investigation you coulda come to us,’ Graham said… ‘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.’
“ ‘This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics. And if you really wanted to know the truth, you sure as hell wouldn’t have done what you’ve done to this guy.’ ”
Graham appears to be suffering from his own memory lapse as he, along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others, flagrantly refused to even hold a committee hearing for Merrick Garland, Obama’s Supreme Court nominee with almost a year left in the president’s tenure.
Biggest Surprise –
However, the most startling surprise came during Judge Kavanaugh’s opening statement.
“Shortly after I was nominated,” Kavanaugh said, “the Democratic Senate leader said he would ‘oppose me with everything he’s got.’ A Democratic senator on this committee publicly referred to me as evil. Evil. Think about that word. And said that those that supported me were ‘complicit and evil.’ ”
Completely agree. Democrats went off the rails in needlessly strident rebukes of Kavanaugh before most learned of Dr. Ford’s allegations. Shameful.
Surprisingly, Kavanaugh takes his own turn at political grandstanding.
“This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups.”
Not one committee member, Judge, either mentioned or suggested anything about Clinton “revenge” or “pent-up anger about President Trump.” Not one!
One paragraph later, Kavanaugh makes this statement:
“I am an optimistic guy. I always try to be on the sunrise side of the mountain, to be optimistic about the day that is coming…”
It’s hard to believe someone claiming to be optimistic after slamming Democratic committee members for political rhetoric they had not engaged in.
Most Telling Moment –
For me the most telling moment came in an exchange between Kavanaugh and a calm and respectful Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, as reported by Minnesota Post (Sept. 28).
“ ‘In your written testimony,’ Klobuchar said, ‘you said sometimes you had too many drinks. Was there ever a time when you drank so much you couldn’t remember what happened, or part of what happened, the night before?’
“ ‘I, no, I remember what happened,’ Kavanaugh replied. ‘I think you’ve probably had beers, senator.’
“Klobuchar, nodding slightly, returned to the questioning: ‘You’re saying there’s never been a case when you drank so much that you didn’t remember what happened the night before, or part of what happened?’
“ ‘You’re asking about a blackout,’ the judge responded. ‘I don’t know, have you?’ A moment of stunned silence. ‘Can you answer the question, judge?’ Klobuchar continued. ‘That’s not happened, that’s your answer?’
“ ‘Yeah, and I’m curious if you have?’ Kavanaugh replied.
“ ‘I have no drinking problem,’ Klobuchar said with a nervous laugh.”
My question for Kavanaugh: If you remember drinking regularly and sometimes too much, how can you be sure that you didn’t have a memory lapse when, possibly, one occurred?
“Most drinkers know,” addiction specialist and therapist Gary Lange, PhD points out, “that when they’ve had a lot of alcohol for them they just don’t care about other little details. People tend to act stupid and silly because higher intellectual functioning is affected.
“If you told most people that they missed a few details the night before when they were drinking, they’d say, ‘Yes, so what?’ Attending to details while under the influence of alcohol is difficult and seems unimportant.”
When the committee resumed questioning Kavanaugh after a break, the judge made a point of apologizing to Sen. Klobuchar for asking about her own drinking habits.
What Troubles Me Most –
While an FBI investigation is currently under way, I am troubled by Kavanaugh, not only for the allegations of sexual assault, but for his openly hostile attitude toward Democrats claiming “revenge” for the Clintons and “pent-up anger about President Trump,” none of which was on display.
While I understand the stressful situation Kavanaugh is under, the bottom line is: How can we trust this man to fairly view any liberal attorneys that come before the Supreme Court?
I am troubled by Sen. Lindsey Graham who stated before hearing one word from Dr. Ford, that he was going to vote for Kavanaugh regardless.
Both men show a willful blindness to being open-minded and fair. For a sitting Senator to act that way is one thing, for a future Supreme Court Justice to act that way is deeply disturbing.
Here’s my question for Republican Committee members: If the nominee were a Democrat, how would you respond to credible allegations of sexual abuse?