Editorial: Reflections on the Kavanaugh testimony
● By Richard Gaw
Rule 1.2 of the American Bar Association Model Code of Judicial Conduct
It is within the privacy and freedom of your own conscience to believe that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has been the innocent victim of a highly politicized and unethical smear campaign by the Democratic Party to undermine his appointment.
You are also entitled to support the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford last Thursday morning that claimed with certainty that it was Kavanaugh himself and another male who sexually assaulted her when she was 15 years old, on an August night 36 years ago in Montgomery County, Md.
And yet, while the nation awaits the FBI investigation to review the facts of Dr. Ford's allegations against Kavanaugh, it is difficult for anyone to weigh the incorrigible conduct of Kavanaugh during his second period of questioning last Thursday evening with the heavy magnitude of the job he is applying for.
During his follow-up testimony, Brett Kavanaugh looked like a little boy lost in the throes of a temper tantrum, not someone who rightly owns the qualifications, knowledge and experience to sit next to justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Roberts on the highest legal court in the country. Further, it was the content and direction of his ire that seemed to remove him, comment by incendiary comment, from the requirements listed at the top of this editorial.
This argument cannot be contested: Ford was careful, quiet, factually scientific and almost apologetic in her testimony. Kavanaugh, instead, chose to go off on an ineffectual rampage, calling the entire nomination process a “circus,” “a grotesque and coordinated character assassination,” while polishing off those tried and tested nuggets that suggested that this was a witch hunt retaliation for the Trump election, all whipped up by the Clintons in response to Kavanaugh's work for the Starr investigation during President Clinton's impeachment period 20 years before.
His insinuations may be undeniable – anyone believing that there are no one but Boy Scouts and Brownies in the Democratic Party is just kidding themselves – but consider the timing of Kavanaugh's words. In what may have been the most important job interview of his life, the Supreme Court nominee seemed to reach under his table and bring out the Trump playbook, and the professional decorum he displayed in his first testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee was gone, replaced by a molten lava of emotions that sent him off the rails. His attempted take-down of Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar was juvenile; his exchange with Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse was disrespectful of the entire process. The vitriol that spilled all over social media afterward described the actions of an entitled frat boy, lit by arrogance and fueled by a belief that by virtue of his lot in life, he is accountable to no one. They were right.
So what happens now? If he is chosen to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, or if he is ultimately turned down, the undeniably successful journey that got Brett Kavanaugh to one step away from the highest precipice a legal career can go in this country is already marked with the permanence that comes complete with its own sneering, teeth-baring snarl.
But what about the victim?
Like the late afternoon of Nov. 22, 1963 or the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, we are not likely to forget where we were when Dr. Christine Blasey Ford spoke to the Senate Judiciary Committee. While some will try, the ramifications of where she took us and left us that morning – as witnesses to a sexual assault – can not be denied or explained away, no matter what ridiculous excuses will be heard. Dr. Ford came to Washington, D.C. last week with no other agenda than to recount the worst moments of her life and, brushing the hair away from her face, she told the committee – and the world – about being pinned down helplessly beneath a man who weighed much more than she did. Her story was real and horrifying and painful and barely tolerable to listen to.
Then she began to share the memory of hearing the sound of male laughter, and suddenly, the room went deathly still. It was a moment of clarity that told everyone who heard it, 'All the rest is nonsense and political back-stabbing. This is why we're here.'
At the moment, it went deathly still in dorm rooms, too, where the sound of that laughter still reverberates. It went deathly still in the living rooms and kitchens of middle-aged women, who had thought they had lived enough of life to never hear that laughter again. It went deathly still in offices and restaurants and night clubs and bedrooms, places that still burn in the memories of those who remain the true victims of this Supreme Court nomination process.
The real victims of this entire process that will, or will not, place Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, never appeared before the Senate Judicial Committee. While Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's story is one that has been told, bravely, it is our hope that her story gives the permission of the millions of men and women who have been the victims of sexual abuse to begin to tell their stories as well, joining the ranks of those who have already begun.