Anger featured very prominently in the Kavanaugh hearings to determine whether he should be confirmed as a Justice of the Supreme Court. The evidence presented by both sides may remain inconclusive, but one thing that I have learned for sure as a result of these hearings is that Brett Kavanaugh is temperamentally unsuited to be the highest judge in the land. With the level of anger, bitterness and political partisanship that Kavanaugh displayed during the hearings, it is clear that this is not the man for the job. Leaving aside for the moment that he probably also told some lies under oath, the position demands a cool head, unbiased judgment and political neutrality.
Given the tribal partisanship and inflamed rhetoric that has been driving these hearings, unless someone produces a “smoking gun” of one sort or another—and who even knows what that could be 35 years after an event—we may never know the truth. It will remain a he said-she said confrontation that pits patriarchal authority with all its gravitas and pomp against the ….mere accusations of a woman. We have seen this scenario before, Clarence Thomas versus Anita Hill in 1991, when despite much credible evidence produced against Thomas, the insufficient weight given to a woman’s accusation was not enough to stop his appointment to the Supreme Court, a position that he still enjoys today.
Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, when asked his opinion of Professor Ford’s testimony while it was in progress, replied, “I don’t think she’s un-credible. I think she’s an attractive, good witness. But it’s way early”. When prompted to elaborate on his use of “attractive,” Hatch replied “In other words, she’s pleasing.”
Christine Blasey Ford, like Kavanaugh, also has reason to be angry. She has been dragged into the public eye when she wanted to do her civic duty in an unobtrusive manner, staying behind the scenes, she and her family have received death threats, she has been forced to leave her home and take refuge elsewhere, she is probably incurring a mountain of legal bills, and her credibility is being impugned. In short, if Kavanaugh’s supporters claim that his life is being ruined, so is hers. But contrary to the well-worn misogynistic stereotype of women as being emotionally uncontrolled—indeed, hysterical–her testimony was characterized by a calm and even-tempered tone. She was emotional at times, as is understandable, but she presented her testimony in a dignified and unbiased manner.
This cannot be said of the aspiring Justice Kavanaugh, who, “fumed that the sexual assault allegations brought against him in recent days had been a ‘calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election.” Indeed, he went so far as to call it “revenge on behalf of the Clintons” and asserted that the left-wing had spent millions of dollars in order to try to derail his appointment and to destroy him.
His tone, far from displaying the cool and neutral manner that we would expect from any judge, let alone a Justice of the Supreme Court, was aggressive and vindictive, as when being questioned by Senator Klobuchar about his drinking and the possibility of blackouts. When repeatedly pressed to answer the question, he sarcastically and aggressively turned the tables on her, “Yeah, and I’m curious if you have,” forcing her to defend herself with, “I have no drinking problem, judge”.
Given the man and temperament that we have seen during these Hearings, the inevitable question is this, if he should be confirmed as Justice will he make fair and unbiased decisions? Given his amply demonstrated venom against the Democrats, I’d say that his nomination is irrevocably tainted.
Politics today is driven not by truth and justice but tribalism, the interests of the party instead of the nation. Congress people and Senators will sell their souls to bolster the party position. It really doesn’t matter in the end which one of them is telling the truth. It will remain as a he-said she-said because no further tangible proof can be forthcoming after all these years. The so-called FBI investigation that Senator Flake finally attached as a caveat for his vote in favor of the confirmation of Kavanaugh, with all the restrictions that they have placed on it, is a sham, a sop to assuage the rage of the opposition. I believe in fact that he demanded this condition only after being harangued and shamed by the woman who cornered him by the elevator. This woman was voicing the outrage felt by a slew of women who have been dismissed and disrespected too many times by men such as Kavanaugh.
Let’s not forget that Bill Clinton, although impeached for lying under oath during questioning about the Lewinsky scandal, continued to enjoy respect and even affection from the American people. Donald Trump, despite a dozen accusations of sexual misconduct, other than hush money paid from his own pocket, has thus far suffered no harm as a result of any of them. This despite his own admission of despicable behavior against women flagrantly caught on the infamous “Access Hollywood tapes”. And while Senator Flake seemed to be genuinely stricken by the woman’s fury and tears, it’s more than likely that the caveat on his vote was simply a way to neutralize the charge that the GOP had ridden roughshod over Ford and justice. Thus far I’d say that all that his last-minute turnabout may accomplish is to delay the inevitable. Many people say that times are different now thanks to the MeToo movement. Let’s hope that this is true, that the all too familiar scenario may have a different ending this time around.