That a Supreme Court nominee has to go on TV -- and on a cable news station we all accept plays to President Trump's base and not much more -- to try to “control the narrative” is a political move, not a typical Supreme Court move, a court that until recently we all held in the highest esteem as a fair arbiter of the law.
Kavanaugh and his wife Ashley sat down with Martha McCallum who is not a Fox talking head but comes from the news’ side. McCallum did a mostly a more than capable job in the interview asking many of the questions you or I wanted to know the answers too. Kavanaugh, though, stuck his talking points that he will defend his integrity, that the accusations aren’t true and that he has always treated females with respect.
Getting into his virginity was probably a step too far and irrelevant to the discussion since Kavanauagh isn’t accused of rape and one could still sexually attack someone without making penetration. Plus, if you want to go down that road, opponents of his nomination might say that still being a virgin might be a reason for a drunken teenager, assuming he was even in the house, to sexually attack a teenage girl.
President Trump surely had something to do with the change in strategy for Kavanaugh to be more aggressive, something Trump has preached for decades, and something he learned at the feet of the late attorney Roy Cohen, known for his aggressive and dishonest tactics in his day.
Some GOP senators have made clear that whatever happens in Thursday’s hearing, featuring Kavanaugh and Christine Ford who is accusing him of a sexual assault when they were teenagers, they have already decided their votes. Many senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have made clear Kavanaugh will be confirmed, no matter what is learned in Thursday’s hearing. To be fair many Democrats also have already made up their minds to oppose him. The hearing is unlikely to change their votes either.
While some level of politics has always played a role in Supreme Court nominees and the confirmation process, it has never been as blatant as it is this year. And that is unfortunate.
The Court becomes just one more American institution that is suffering a reputation hit because of this nomination process and a few decisions over the last 30 years (settling the 2000 election allegedly being among them). Nominations have become a partisan exercise, no more, no less.
I’ve never met Judge Kavanaugh, though I have friends who worked with him in the Bush White House who, to a person, have stood behind him in this nomination process. I trust those people and I’m sure Kavanaugh has displayed none of the behaviors he’s been accused of when in high school and college. Kavanaugh as much as admitted heavy drinking was part of the culture at his private high school. If we accept the word of other of his schoolmates that he was a heavy drinker in those days, it is possible he doesn’t remember the attack being alleged by Dr. Ford.
Some of have said, in effect, “what happens in your teenage years stays in your teenage years.” I disagree. You can be an effective, sober (no pun intended) judge today and still have done dumb things when young, and under the effects of alcohol.
While many are basing their decision of support or non-support of Kavanaugh on the alleged sexual attack, to me that is a factor as is whether Kavanaugh is telling the truth. If, for example, he overdid the drinking in his teen years, he should just say that and further he could say he doesn’t remember any such alleged attack, if that is the case.
That may be closer to the truth than we’ve gotten so far but I’m completely making that up.
My guess is after Thursday’s hearing there still will be no clear insight into what actually happened decades ago. I’m guessing Dr. Ford will look credible, as will Judge Kavanaugh.
This is a difficult decision. It should not – but will – be a political decision. If Kavanaugh is confirmed it will likely be on a straight party-line vote.
And we will be no closer to the truth than we are now.