The Divide Deepens

A teary moment for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh during his opening statement


Christine Blasey Ford Says She’s 100% Sure It Was Brett Kavanaugh Who Sexually Assaulted Her. Kavanaugh Says He’s 100% Sure He Didn’t.


Here they are in stark contrast (click on the photos to play):

Neither of those allegations or responses came as a surprise. In fact, not much new came out or came up during the testimony. (Except one thing: Kavanaugh’s contention that the forces at work against him include the Clintons, hungry for revenge. A conspiracy theory worthy of the Trump playbook. Kavanaugh also spent a lot of time building the case to impeach President Clinton while working for Independent Counsel Ken Starr.)

Temperment. Honor. Credibility. Veracity. Or lack of it. That really was what it was all about. And that’s what everybody who was watching was judging for themselves.

Ford kicked it off. When Committee Chair Chuck Grassley asked if she needed anything before they began, she asked only for some caffeine.

The moment of her testimony that moved us, was Ford’s recounting, under questioning by Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, of how she remembered the laughter of the two boys as one of them assaulted her. Here’s that clip:



In the afternoon it was Kavanaugh’s turn. He portrayed himself as righteously aggrieved, and was immediately combative during a lengthy opening statement. He then directly accused and berated the Democratic Senators on the panel, which hardly seemed like a viable approach to gaining approval, until we realized it was not them he was intending to impress.

Democrats spent a lot of their time pressing Kavanaugh on whether he’d be wanting to ask the F.B.I. to investigate his friend whom Ford says was also in the room at the time of the alleged attack, and pointing out the Committee seems to be letting that witness go with just a short written statement submitted by a lawyer. A tactic we didn’t quite get since even though it seems like it’s an important topic to bring up, it’s an easy one for Kavanaugh to deflect since he can’t really authorize such an investigation.  (Following Kavanaugh’s testimony, the American Bar Association called for that investigation before a confirmation vote.)

Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal tried something a little different, attempting to point out little things that seem obviously false that Kavanaugh has said and has continued to say. And extrapolates to say if even those small things make Kavanaugh seem untrustworthy it’s fair to judge him similarly on bigger things. Here’s that exchange (click on the photo to watch):


Republicans meanwhile spent a lot of time criticizing Democrats for withholding and mishandling Ford’s original communication to the Committee. And the most astounding moment of the day might’ve been when Republican Senator Lindsey Graham used his time to completely throw a fit. The gist of his message seemed to be that since he voted for Justices Kagan and Sotomayor, it’s time for Democrats to suck it up like they would’ve done in the good old days.


To which we’d point out regardless of whether you believe Kavanaugh or not, or believe he’s been treated unfairly, Graham’s leaving out a whole chunk of history: while he may have voted for Kagan and Sotomayor, he did not vote for Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to replace Justice Scalia, because there never was a vote. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decided to challenge Obama’s power and refuse to let Garland even have a hearing, instead holding that seat open for more than a year until Trump got elected and appointed Justice Gorsuch (who did get some votes from Democrats BTW).

Kavanaugh cried quite a bit, especially in his opening statement. And Trump usually likes to make fun of men who cry. Still, he got high marks from the President:


We are concerned, as others, that the events of the day are especially important at a time when the Supreme Court is increasingly being used to legislate. Don’t like a law? Get a few state Attorneys General to challenge it. Obamacare only exists today because Chief Justice John Roberts surprised almost everybody and pulled a reason out of a hat allowing it to continue. Medicare for all? Free public college tuition? What are the chances those things–even if they’re passed as laws by Congress and signed by a future President–will hold up if challenged before a High Court in which Ultra-Conservative activists have the deciding votes?

In that sense, Kavanaugh is an insurance policy. Which is why we think, in the end, we don’t see anything that’s likely to change the minds of the 11 Republicans–all white men with an average age of 63–who sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee and have the deciding vote.

Of all the reporting and commentary we read–and there’s so much to read–we really liked this piece from Robin Abcarian who asks in the Los Angeles Times: “Do we really want a man consumed with rage, self-pity and hate on the Supreme Court?” The answer to that is pretty obvious. But it’s also true we may not have a choice. 

What happens next? Barring a last minute decision to call for further investigations and hear more from Kavanuagh’s friend, Mark Judge, a vote to confirm–could be today–followed by a vote in the full Senate.

On the way home on the evening train, we noticed groups of people huddling together, speaking in hushed, fatalistic tones. Until two slightly aging bros entered the train car. “Kavanaugh kicked ASS!” one shouted, as the two of them high-fived. A fitting tribute for a child of privilege who could not stop talking about how “I busted my butt” to get everything he got.