Brett Kavanaugh might be innocent…
But should he be a judge at any level within the U.S. legal system?
The Kavanaugh confirmation hearings have brought up all the usual hard feelings and partisan posturing, as well as the horrible optics of a bunch of old white male senators holding all the power in deciding whether a woman is telling the truth about her sexual assault allegations. The hearings have largely been a waste of time, as the Republican majority in the Senate has no interest in trying to find the truth, or in fulfilling their duties of Advice and Consent.
They’ve already proven that with their decision not to hold a vote on Merrick Garland for almost a year. Their decision not to grant an FBI investigation of the Dr. Ford’s sexual assault allegation when there is a named party who was in the room during the event shows their determination to push this nomination down the throats of the American people.
But let’s assume that the Republicans’ strict legal defense that there is no evidence and no corroboration is valid. Let’s assume that Brett Kavanaugh is totally innocent of any inappropriate sexual conduct.
Let’s also assume that we shouldn’t judge a person based on his experience in high school, assuming that any poor choices he might have made have no bearing on how he’s lived the rest of his life.
Brett Kavanaugh is innocent… so why are there so many unresolved questions about him?
Like any fan of detective stories, I’m always looking for clues. When Chekov found a gun in Act I of a play, he expected that gun to be fired in Act III.
Why does Brett Kavanaugh sprinkle his story with clues and then expect us to stop asking questions?
CLUE #1: Suggestive Jokes
What first caught my attention was Kavanaugh’s riff on “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” when talking about his high school. Why on earth would anyone compare their experience at an all boys Catholic high school to a lost weekend of alcohol fueled wild behavior in Sin City?
While his buddies in the Senate giggled over that joke, how can any rational person not wonder what’s going on beneath the surface? And given the news about Dr. Ford’s allegations after his testimony, there certainly seemed to be an answer to the question “what’s this guy hiding?”
All I can ask is what kind of a debauched high school did this guy attend, and why didn’t I get to go there?
CLUE #2: The Pride in Past Achievements
I’ve probably lived too sheltered a life, because I’ve never seen a yearbook entry like Kavanaugh’s.
He definitely recorded a couple of drunken nights where he couldn’t remember what happened in the game, hinted at a serious drinking problem (“100 Kegs or bust” — are you kidding me?) and made a number of references (boofing, devil’s triangle, Renate Alumnius) that point toward sexual behavior.
In his testimony, Kavanaugh became very emotional when speaking about how he started to keep a calendar that doubled as a journal, just like his dad. He then used his calendar as a means to prove he was out of town for almost every weekend of the summer of 1982.
The problem I have here is Kavanaugh’s m.o. If he’s such a stickler for recording his life and has so much pride in his achievements, how can he expect people to not take the words he wrote in his yearbook just as seriously?
He was proud to record all of his misdeeds in the yearbook, never thinking anyone would see it who would be in a position to judge him. Even if we discount his wild twisting of the well known terms “devil’s triangle” and “boofing” to be completely innocent, he’s proud to tell the world he was so drunk he had no memory of certain nights.
And that’s a total contradiction of his boy scout narrative.
While we can’t crucify someone for stupid mistakes made as a teenager, his lack of self awareness, contrition, and arrogance in trying to rewrite his past history are character flaws that don’t seem to have changed with age.
CLUE #3: Order in the court
It’s one thing to show righteous anger when you feel you are being unjustly accused, but it’s quite another for a judge to act this way when they are supposed to be held to a higher standard.
I was dumb struck by the interactions between Senator Amy Klobuchar and Kavanaugh. The senator showed Kavanaugh total respect, and he thanked her for her kindness. And yet, he couldn’t stop himself from interrupting to repeat his resume for the umpteenth time instead of answering her questions. The contrast between her patience and politeness and the ease with which he talked over her seemed provided another example of bad optics during a hearing about sexual assault and sexism.
But even if his actions only occurred with the male Senators, I was shocked by Kavanaugh’s behavior, knowing his legal experience. What judge in this country would ever allow a witness in his court to show any kind of belligerence, interrupt or cross examine opposing counsel, or refuse to answer simple questions that require a yes or no answer?
How is it possible for a judge to not understand and recognize the legal authority of a Senate investigation and follow the rules of court?
Kavanaugh’s behavior as a witness revealed far more about his character than anything we could have learned from the polygraph he refused to take.
CLUE #4: Going back to the scene of a crime
At one point, Kavanaugh attacked the Democrats for performing a hit job on his character, saying their motivation was, among other things, anger about the 2016 election, retaliation for the GOP’s refusal to hear Garland’s nomination, and the desire to get revenge for the Clintons. Considering that the Democrats did almost nothing to stop the Gorsuch nomination, which came right after the 2016 election and the Republicans’ refusal to allow the Garland nomination to come to a vote, one has to ask if there wasn’t a different reason Kavanaugh’s nomination has encountered so much resistance. Could it have something to do with the allegations made by Dr. Ford and other women?
The most troubling part of his comment was about the Clintons. What possible connection do the Clintons have with Brett Kavanaugh and why would he mention them? While watching the testimony, it never occurred to me to look at the Democrats’ motivations, other than thinking about the sexual assault issue and what would happen if a sexist asshole were allowed to decide on legal issues that would affect the millions of women in this country.
But his comment about the Clintons, and the commentary by the news channel carrying the hearing reminded me of his role working for Ken Starr’s special investigation of president Clinton. I looked up his role in that investigation, and found he took three years and spent $2 million to investigate the death of Vince Foster, even though two other investigations had already concluded it was suicide. https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a22638554/brett-kavanaugh-vince-foster-investigation/
My guess is the vast majority of the people of this country were probably unaware of the role played by Brett Kavanaugh in Ken Starr’s special investigation of President Clinton. I’m pretty aware of current events, but I only remember a few small details:
- Starr’s law firm was working for Big Tobacco during the time the Clinton administration was prosecuting the industry for hiding their knowledge of the addictive qualities of tar and nicotine, and the connection between cigarettes and cancer since the 1950’s. Because of this Ken Starr should have recused from becoming the special prosecutor because of this conflict of interests.
- The Clinton investigation took 7 years and cost over $40 million, and came up with absolutely nothing related to the original focus, the Whitewater investigation, or any other expansion of the investigation, except for the Monica Lewinsky affair.
Why would someone return to scene of his old crime, the hit job Kavanaugh did in pushing to reopen the Vince Foster case? Could it be that he is projecting his own guilt about acting in an unethical, hyper partisan manner onto the Democrats?
While I only was focused on the credibility of the two parties with regard to Dr. Ford’s allegation of sexual assault, Brett Kavanaugh conveniently decided to dig up the bodies from a completely different crime. It may not make him guilty in the current case, but the old case certainly disqualifies him as an impartial arbiter of the Constitution and the laws of the land.
CLUE #5: If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck…
Finally, Kavanaugh’s comments about revenge for the Clintons made me think of a second connection: the comparison of the current hearing with the 25 years of unfounded rumors and attacks conducted by Republican party against Hilary Clinton, which culminated in the Benghazi investigations, the Clinton email scandal, and cries of “lock her up!” throughout the 2016 presidential campaign.
The national media and voters seemed to feel that Clinton proved her worth as a presidential candidate precisely because she held up emotionally while being cross examined by hostile Republican members of the House during the Benghazi hearings.
Kavanaugh’s comments brought the comparison between himself and Hillary Clinton into focus.
If Clinton could keep her cool while being attacked by Republicans for 11 hours on the stand, what does that say about Brett Kavanaugh crying and belligerence throughout his 3+ hours of testimony?
If the character requirements for a key public servant are the ability to stay cool under fire, and respect others (including opponents), it’s pretty clear who is the swan and who is the duck.