Not that I love revisiting topics, but I wrote yesterday’s blog before Kavanaugh himself had testified. There was so much there for me to respond to, I decided I had to circle back to this again today.
First off, I want to say that his prepared remarks seemed very strong to me. He was angry, clearly. But my first thought was that it was a justified response. His good name was called into question, he swears he didn’t do this act, he’s got a slew of people who say he was a swell guy back then. Could this just be a case where Ford mixed something up in her memories? That happens, right? After those opening remarks, I was no longer sure of anything.
But he kept talking. And as the questions progressed, something else rose to the surface.
First off, when he was asked the same types of questions from Mitchell, he gave much worse answers. Check this one out about his drinking habits (the full transcript is here):
MITCHELL: Dr. Ford has described you as being intoxicated at a party. Did you consume alcohol during your high school years?
KAVANAUGH: Yes, we drank beer. My friends and I, the boys and girls. Yes, we drank beer. I liked beer. Still like beer. We drank beer. The drinking age, as I noted, was 18, so the seniors were legal, senior year in high school, people were legal to drink, and we — yeah, we drank beer, and I said sometimes — sometimes probably had too many beers, and sometimes other people had too many beers.
MITCHELL: What do you…
KAVANAUGH: We drank beer. We liked beer.
MITCHELL: What do you consider to be too many beers?
KAVANAUGH: I don’t know. You know, we — whatever the chart says, a blood-alcohol chart.
MITCHELL: When you talked to Fox News the other night, you said that there were times in high school when people might have had too many beers on occasion. Does that include you?
MITCHELL: OK. Have you ever passed out from drinking?
KAVANAUGH: I — passed out would be — no, but I’ve gone to sleep, but — but I’ve never blacked out. That’s the — that’s the — the allegation, and that — that — that’s wrong.
He’s being asked simple questions. He’s giving huge long responses. This does not strike me as him being truthful, especially when coupled with the things he personally had written about his drinking habits, and the things his friends had written, both in books and in their yearbook. Without casting any judgments on what did or didn’t happen at the party with Ford, I think it was quite clear Kavanaugh was a heavy drinker in high school and college. Here’s another example from the transcript:
LEAHY: Now, you’ve talked about your yearbook. In your yearbook, you talked about drinking and sexual exploits, did you not?
KAVANAUGH: Senator, let me — let me take a step back and explain high school. I was number one in the class…
LEAHY: And I — and I thought (ph)…
KAVANAUGH: … freshman — no, no, no, no, no.
LEAHY: I thought we were in the Senate (ph)…
KAVANAUGH: You’ve got this all — I’m going to — I’m going to talk about my high school…
LEAHY: … the (ph) whole (ph) question (ph).
I thought we were in the Senate (ph) filibuster (ph).
KAVANAUGH: … no, no.
GRASSLEY: Let him answer.
KAVANAUGH: I’m going to talk about my high school record, if you’re going to sit here and mock me.
GRASSLEY: We — we were — I think we were all very fair to Dr. Ford. Shouldn’t we be just as fair to Judge Kavanaugh?
KAVANAUGH: I busted my butt in academics. I always tried to do the best I could. As I recall, I finished one in the class, first in — you know, freshman and junior year, right at the top with Steve (ph) Clark (ph) and Eddie (ph) (inaudible), we were always kind of in the mix.
I — I played sports. I was captain of the varsity basketball team. I was wide receiver and defensive back on the football team. I ran track in the spring of ’82 to try to get faster. I did my service projects at the school, which involved going to the soup kitchen downtown — let me finish — and going to tutor intellectually disabled kids at the Rockville Library.
With the church — and, yes, we got together with our friends.
LEAHY: Does this reflect what you are? Does this yearbook reflect your…
LEAHY: … focus on academics and your respect for women? That’s easy. Yes or no. You don’t have to filibuster the answer. Does it reflect your focus on academics…
KAVANAUGH: I already said the yearbook — in my opening statement. The yearbook, obviously…
GRASSLEY: Judge? Just wait a minute. He’s asked the question. I’ll give you time to answer it.
KAVANAUGH: The — the yearbook, as I said in my opening statement, was something where the students and editors made a decision to treat some of it as farce and some of as exaggeration, some of it celebrating things that don’t reflect the things that were really the central part of our school.
Yes, we went to parties, though. Yes, of course, we went to parties and the yearbook page describes that and kind of makes fun of it. And as a — you know, if we want to sit here and talk about whether a Supreme Court nomination should be based on a high school yearbook page, I think that’s taken us to a new level of absurdity.
Again, this was not the sort of answer you give if you have a simple, truthful answer. Before he’d even been asked the question (which I assume would have been “Did your yearbook accurately describe your behavior in high school”), he was instead deflecting to what a great guy he was in high school. How hard he studied. How he went to church. But of course, you can do a lot of great things in high school and also drink a lot. Get drunk to the point of blacking out.
I believe Kavanaugh believes he didn’t sexually assault Ford. Or at least, I believe he could believe that. Why? Because I also believe that if he did assault her, it might be something he could easily forget. After all, he was quite intoxicated at the time (if her story is true), and it was nothing more than a blip on his schedule. Harmful actions we take to other people can and do affect them much longer than they affect us.
I think back on some of the hurtful things that happened to me in middle school and high school. How I was made fun of because of my weight or my last name. I think about conversations I’ve had with Denisa about her time growing up. How casual remarks and criticisms people said to her still affect her to this day. If we were to go back and confront the people who had harmed our psyches, I would honestly be very surprised if they remembered what they had done or said.
It was no big deal to them.
(Likewise, I’m sure there are things I did and said when I was in middle school, high school, college, and later on that have hurt other people deeply. There are some things I’m aware of. Some I’m no doubt not and wouldn’t remember if you asked me.)
Note: The Republicans seemed to figure this out. They could see that Mitchell’s questions were making Kavanaugh look bad in comparison, so they stopped having her ask those questions.
Did the sexual assault happen? I’m not sure. It was a long time ago. I know Ford believes it did. I know Kavanaugh strongly denies it, and seems to believe that denial. I personally would like to see a deeper investigation. It doesn’t have to play out on a public stage, but I’d think Senators would want to hear from other witnesses. Have them testify under oath. It’s much easier to write a statement and sign your name to it than it is to actually get up there and answer questions.
But another thing that was clear was that this entire thing has been politicized to death. You’ve got grandstanding on both sides of the aisle, and I don’t know that anything real can come of this. (Though if he’s confirmed, he’s publicly stated he believes this all to be one big hack job by the Democrats against him. How can he be an impartial judge at this point? How can he effectively serve on the Supreme Court if he believes all this? He might have been able to be impartial before this, but this process has ruined his suitability. Which might be a tragedy, and might not be. Hard to say without knowing the truth.)
In the end, I believe there are plenty of other, untarnished judges out there who could serve on the Supreme Court. I would like Senators to either investigate this incident more fully, or to withdraw his nomination and put someone new up for the seat. But I believe they won’t do that, as they’re too concerned that it will take too long, and they’ll lose their shot to have a conservative judge on the Supreme Court.
I’m still just depressed.
And I’m still taking notes for when November comes. Especially when it comes to how Senator Collins, my own Senator, votes.
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