Is Kavanaugh Done?

Over the weekend, the Washington Post reported that Christine Blasey Ford, a professor and therapist from CA, accused Supreme Court Justice nominee, Brett Kavanaugh and a friend of assaulting her, while at a drunken party in high school.

Her story is highly credible in part because the details of her story are so familiar to many women who were in similar positions in the 1980s. Getting jumped by drunken guys happened a lot.

Is he done? Is it fair?

Advertisements

67 thoughts on “Is Kavanaugh Done?

  1. I’m of two minds about this–if we start expecting everyone to have led exemplary lives from birth on, we will certainly reduce the pool of potential candidates for any position. High school behavior by both men and women is frequently boorish and is not necessarily predictive of future behavior. Then again, if it were my daughter (who is 32), I would hope i would be as incensed now as I would have been at the time, had I known about it.

    One would hope that Kavanaugh’s obsequiousness to people in power (as long as they are Republicans) would render his confirmation impossible; sadly, toadies are what we seem to want these days. It’s a sad day for the Republic–but I’ve been saying that since inauguration day 2017.

    1. “if we start expecting everyone to have led exemplary lives from birth on, we will certainly reduce the pool of potential candidates for any position.”

      True, and I think what we should be doing is identifying redemption paths. I am using the term “redemption” not for its religious meaning or its financial meaning, but because it’s a common term in the pop culture narratives I love so much. (I.e., right now in Star Wars fandom there is a controversy over whether Ben Solo/Kylo Ren can be redeemed in the next movie.) I love a redemption story in fiction; can I love it in real life? Has David Brock truly redeemed himself for his execrable writing during the Anita Hill hearings? How does redemption happen? What could it look like?

      The troubling thing about Kavanaugh is that his current ideas about women seem to be similar to his ideas about women in the past. I wonder if we will see continued denial from him or if we will see him cop to it and say that he has changed. I am wondering if we will see the latter. (Clarence Thomas of course chose absolute denial, and was rewarded for it, so I don’t know.) Kavanaugh may admit to what happened simply because the witness, K’s BFF Mark Judge, denies any memory of what happened but also admits to having been a blackout drunk and all-around asshole for much of his life.

  2. The fact that other people did something in the 1980s does not make any particular accusation credible. It might be more persuasive to argue that such behavior is common among high school students in all eras, although that would also undercut any claims about the seriousness of the event.

    I really can’t get behind the theory that Democratic men who are pro-choice get a pass on sexual misbehavior, but those whose jurisprudential theories are inconsistent with the current left/liberal agenda do not.

    1. “…I really can’t get behind the theory that Democratic men who are pro-choice get a pass on sexual misbehavior…” y81, this is NOT THEORY. It is observed practice!
      The story here seems unlikely to me, not so much because I think a high school boy, drunk, might not have done it or something like it, but because it’s my observation that people tend to do the same thing over and over. Trump was able to bring four women to glare at Hillary at the debate, Keith Ellison seems to have been a violent abuser a number of times, Roy Moore targeted his creepy ephebophilic behavior at a number of teen girls, etc etc. Kavanaugh seems to have a long and blameless history, no hint of scandal – and suddenly at the eleventh hour an ancient incident is alleged? So I am skeptical.

      1. dave s. said,

        “The story here seems unlikely to me, not so much because I think a high school boy, drunk, might not have done it or something like it, but because it’s my observation that people tend to do the same thing over and over.”

        Right–and that repetitiveness seems to be especially true of predatory sexual behavior. If there’s any fire, there should be another accusation or two within the week.

        If no other accusers appear, or if Ford is unable to firm up a time and place, I think Kavanaugh deserves the benefit of the doubt.

      1. I had understood Laura to be saying that Al Franken would disagree with my rejection of free passes for pro-choice Democratic men.

    2. “I really can’t get behind the theory that Democratic men who are pro-choice get a pass on sexual misbehavior, but those whose jurisprudential theories are inconsistent with the current left/liberal agenda do not.”

      For the record, that is not what I said. Kavanaugh’s politics are an obvious sign of his lack of change of views. Someone who is Democratic or pro-choice could be giving lip service (Louis CK, Weinstein, and others).

  3. Feinstein says there’s more. If this is truly as important as she claims, she needs to stop playing games and get the information out there. If Feinstein just wants to play games with the information, then I don’t believe she takes it seriously.

    1. Doug said,

      “If he’s not done, then the conclusion is that everyone the Republicans could nominate for the Supreme Court could plausibly be accused of attempted rape?”

      Any adult biological male could plausibly be accused of attempted rape.

      1. Cranberry said,

        “Anyone can be accused of attempted rape. At any time.”

        I’m leaning hard on the word “plausibly.”

    2. Well, I’ll never get that two minutes back. I find Dahlia Lithwick unbearably fluff-brained, but if you’re already in the choir, I guess you like her preaching.

      1. OK, count me part of the choir, then, but what, exactly, did you find factually or logically “fluffy” about her piece? Just because you don’t like it doesn’t make it wrong.

  4. On the one hand, I believe her – it sounds precisely like something that would happen, where the woman would end up traumatized for years and the man would be so drunk he’d forget it happened. (Of course it’s possible he didn’t forget. In that case I hope his life is a living hell and he becomes a terrifying example to every man who pretended not to have done something horrible.)

    But on the other hand, to make a nomination rest entirely on this, on a single person’s un-investigatible testimony 30 years after the fact, seems like a bad idea. (What if it was one of the other men there, for example?) And I also think this will be a nightmare for her which will never, ever go away. Honestly, I am more worried about her than anything else.

    1. “But on the other hand, to make a nomination rest entirely on this, on a single person’s un-investigatible testimony 30 years after the fact, seems like a bad idea.”

      Is this really uninvestigatable, though? It’s not like there was no evidence that he and his friends, particularly the incredible douche Mark Judge, were immersed in a culture of morally questionable sexual activity and heavy drinking. They basically brag about it in their yearbook. Mark Judge’s brother basically calls him a sociopath. I’m not saying Kavanaugh is one, but I am saying he likes to hang around with sociopaths and he has a history of being led around/influenced by them.

      There are 2 current defenses of Kavanaugh, and they get mixed together very easily.
      1. He didn’t do it. There is no proof. This could be made up. We don’t want to make decisions based on these kinds of years-old accusations, and
      2. He did it, but really, everyone else did. Boys will be boys. It happened once long ago. Should we really punish him for that?

      I am arguing that #2 is invalid. This is a Supreme Court nomination. We get to hold very high standards.

      And I am arguing that #1 is still up for investigation. We can know a lot of things about the situation, and it doesn’t really speak to Kavanaugh’s likely innocence.

      I say this because I find that once you challenge someone on #1, they default to #2. And vice versa. But they are separate arguments, and Kavanaugh himself is saying #1.

  5. Lithwick’s piece has two components: a rehashing of the standard Democratic talking points against Kavanaugh, which have nothing to do with sexual assault, and a set of complaints about how women who make accusations have their credibility questioned. There is no sentence in the second part of her screed which wouldn’t read just as well if you inserted “Crystal Mangum” or “Jackie Coakley” as the subject of the discussion. Reasoning that superficial leaves me cold.

    1. For those who don’t keep up with those things, Crystal Mangum and Jackie Coakley turned out to be false rape accusers in the Duke Lacrosse and UVA-Rolling Stone story.

      It’s important to be respectful–but at the same time continue to use our common sense.

    2. Both Crystal Mangum’s case and Jackie Coakley’s case were different, though Coakley has slightly more similarity.

      I’m also curious about how people who question Kavanaugh’s accuser’s credibility feel about Amber Guyger.

    3. I’d like to see the conservative talking point about false accusations start including some cases where it wasn’t white frat boys who are the accused — say, Amy Yovino, Carolyn Bryant Donham, Victoria Price, Ruby Bates.

  6. My guess as to the next shoe that’s going to drop isn’t another accusation from a woman he directly abused, but of complicity in and knowledge of Judge Kozinski’s creation of a hostile work environment: https://hillreporter.com/court-employees-ready-to-come-forward-about-brett-kavanaugh-but-fear-retaliation-7492

    On that, you can argue about how big a deal it was, but if there’s confirmation that Kavanaugh knew about Kozinski’s making his clerks look at porn and similar stuff, Kavanaugh’s flat denial of anything of the sort to Congress is dishonest.

    1. Courtney Milan/Heidi Bond has been spearheading this aspect of Kavanaugh’s past.

      Again, Kavanaugh’s *documented* involvement in such “humor” in previous years is part of the evidence against him. And is, yes, part of a pattern of repetitive behavior.

    2. I think this is another part of the story — when I asked a someone who has been following the hearings about these allegations, with the assumption that a denial under oath was meaningful, the reaction was that Kavanaugh was willing to grossly mislead and potentially flat out lie (for example, the Kozinski questions).

    3. If there is going to be another shoe dropping, as to which I know no more than the next man, it will have to come from someone a lot less tinfoil hat than Sanai, the author of the letter linked to in the hillreporter story. Poor guy, it appears that the entire federal judiciary is engaged in a conspiracy against him.

  7. (On people saying that maybe it’s mistaken identity? I don’t think that fits with her story. She doesn’t say she was taken advantage of while she was stumbling drunk, she says she had a single beer — she was together enough to yell and fight and run for a bathroom. And she says she knew him, and that it was a small party — only four boys there total. That doesn’t make it necessarily true, but ‘how could she be sure who it was’ doesn’t fit the story she tells, which is of being assaulted while basically sober by a person she knew at a small party.)

    1. (Actually, I just looked at her letter, and ‘one beer’ isn’t in there — I know I saw it in the coverage someplace, but I can’t source it. But still, her story is one where she’s alert and active.)

      1. I hadn’t seen this (I haven’t been following it that closely). If she was basically sober and it was a small party, you’re right, it’s unlikely to be mistaken identity – though trauma sometimes affects memory.

        I’m definitely arguing Wendy’s #1, and not #2, though you’re right that they do get elided sometimes.

  8. I also have been making my branch trees.

    1) Kavanaugh did not assault Ford, which means that Ford is lying (or significantly mistaken) and Kavanaugh is not (once she testifies under oath and he makes denials under oath, sufficiently detailed for us to believe they leave out the “depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is” testimony).

    2) The incident did occur and Kavanaugh denies it, lying under oath. And if you believe Ford, even a little, who will also be testifying under oath, the denial, and lie, becomes big a problem as the assault. How much doubt do you need to have to deny a life-time appointment for a justice who is willing to lie in testimony? What if ultimately, you listen to the testimony and can’t tell which of them is telling the truth? Or, even, you think Kavanaugh’s denial is mostly credible, but you can’t be sure? It’s a different analysis than the one where you put Kavanaugh in jail because you think he is only 80% credible — first, because in a criminal trial, he could choose not to testify, thus avoiding the lie and second, because the lie itself isn’t the act that might have been criminal (if tried at the time).

    These considerations are precisely why we have “reasonable doubt” and the right to not incriminate yourself in criminal trials, but this isn’t a criminal trial. In a criminal trial, with reasonable doubt, we act on scenario #1 and do not deprive someone of their liberty without convincing proof. In a supreme court appointment? what do we do? Is it OK to have someone that is potentially a liar, and that many people believe is a liar on the court, until he dies or chooses to leave?

    3) The incident did occur, and Kavanaugh admits and apologizes for it (see Caitlin Flanagan’s “I believe her” in the Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/09/me-too/570520/“).

    I myself might go with an apology (though it is not as significant as Caitlin’s Flanagan’s attacker’s, which occurred without being caught and at the time).

    1. “What if ultimately, you listen to the testimony and can’t tell which of them is telling the truth? Or, even, you think Kavanaugh’s denial is mostly credible, but you can’t be sure?”

      Again, Republicans — this is the best you can do? This is the best possible person for the nation’s highest court?

  9. And, then, there are the political ramifications. We have three women challenging Republicans in the state. Patty Murray and Dianne Feinstein were elected to the senate following the ugly questioning of the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings. Is the constituency of women who can picture what Ford says happened between her and believe her, and thus believe that Kavanaugh lied under oath big enough to shift the balance of close elections? Unfortunately, I think so. The shocking thing about the me too movement is that so very many women have been assaulted, if that means being grabbed against their will and groped. As Laura says, “getting jumped by drunken guys happened a lot.”

    1. And, the constituency of white women who have been attacked by a drunken boy is probably bigger than the number of black women who have been harassed by their boss (’cause there are fewer black women).

    2. DiFi desperately needs something to boost her relative to Kevin Deleon, so her motivations in this thing are at least worth examining.

      1. Not really, because ultimately it’s about Ford and Kavanaugh, regardless of what shenanigans you think brought us here. If Feinstein was guilty of malfeasance, that would be a reason to vote against her, not relevant to the supreme court nomination and vote.

      2. Right. “Examining motivations” in a situation like this doesn’t really get you anywhere with respect to the politicians. Republicans are powerfully motivated to get this guy on the court, Democrats are powerfully motivated to keep him off, no one’s disinterested.

  10. So we’re rocketing toward the neo-Victorian age.

    Given the desire to believe any allegation, without proof, at a remove of decades, I predict today’s protective parents will increase the supervision of their sons. And ambitious students will make certain to follow the “Pence rule.” (Although perhaps 24/7 archived bodycam footage will suffice.)

    Reuters reports Ford has not agreed to take part in the hearing: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-court-kavanaugh/trump-court-nominees-accuser-has-not-agreed-to-testify-senator-idUSKCN1LY2E4

    Kavanaugh has reportedly stated he did not attend any party such as Ford describes: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/09/17/sen-orrin-hatch-says-kavanaugh-denied-being-at-party-described-by-accuser-ford.html Given that his father is a lawyer and his mother a judge, it’s unlikely they would support teenaged drinking parties during the heyday of MADD.

    If you want to revert to a time when men and women of the upper classes needed witnesses and chaperones, as it was (is?) believed men are unable to resist temptation, well, this is the best way to get there. However, that’s not the atmosphere in which women will get ahead in the workplace.

    1. Possibly there’s some middle ground between locking up women and men separately on the one hand and attempting to rape women on the other.

      I find it very easy to believe that a judge’s son was allowed to go to a party with drinking because I was that and I did that. Anyway, I saw plenty of regrettable shit done by drunk people, but nothing like what Kavenah is credibly accused of.

    2. So you can’t envision any middle ground between “chaperones everywhere” and “turning up music to drown out cries for help and holding hand over mouth also to prevent cries for help”?

    3. “Given the desire to believe any allegation, without proof, at a remove of decades,”

      What desire? Whose desire?

      “I predict today’s protective parents will increase the supervision of their sons. ”

      Which means what as compared to what? Our kids are already over-supervised. I had a minor meltdown yesterday because I couldn’t find E on Find My Friends.

      Also, damn right we should be supervising them more. The other night I told E that if I ever find out he touched someone without getting permission, I will force him to sit and listen to me read to him passages from romance novels involving men seeking consent in sex scenes. I am pretty sure I have now scared him straight. (No pun intended.)

      All I want in the world is to see people striving to become better people. I’m not interested in condemning someone for being an asshole in HS. I am interested in condemning someone for being an asshole in HS and not thinking that he has anything to be sorry for.

      “Given that his father is a lawyer and his mother a judge, it’s unlikely they would support teenaged drinking parties during the heyday of MADD.”

      Are you kidding me? Those are exactly the kind of kids who would have teenaged drinking parties. You don’t really understand it, do you? It’s not about wanting to have sex. It’s not about wanting to get drunk. It’s about being able to do these things and *get away with it*. They know their parents have enough power to let them get away with it. Why do you think Kavanaugh’s yearbook entry talks about the Rehobeth Police Fan Club? How much money do you think beach town cops make off rich kids’ parents covering up their crap?

  11. Borrowing a few sentences from Paul Campos over at Lawyers Guns & Money:

    “There are hundreds — more realistically thousands — of superbly qualified people for this job. For one thing, it’s a big country. For another, this isn’t rocket surgery. Very large numbers of those people have never tried to rape anybody (For some inexplicable reason the people in that category are disproportionately women). If it turns out a SCOTUS nominee has tried to rape somebody then you replace him with somebody who hasn’t. “

  12. I’m watching what happens with Ellison. How that’s handled will be instructive as to whether either party gives a shit about violence against women. The republicans have failed, but I have no faith in the democrats. There are text messages, therapist notes and medical records from the accuser, and people who say they heard about it at the time.

    1. Tulip said,

      “I’m watching what happens with Ellison. How that’s handled will be instructive as to whether either party gives a shit about violence against women. The republicans have failed, but I have no faith in the democrats. There are text messages, therapist notes and medical records from the accuser, and people who say they heard about it at the time.”

      I think people apply a somewhat different (and lower) standard to elected officials, maybe assuming that the people have spoken and this is what they wanted, so who are we to interfere.

      And then we expect appointed officials to be purer than Caesar’s wife–which is weird, given that the people vetting them are often skeevy elected officials.

      1. I grant you that there’s a range–but the public seems to be generally stricter with appointees than elected officials.

      2. The DFL could pull their support, refuse to endorse him etc. Ellison beats women, but the DFL will continue to support him, all the while claiming to be ‘good’ for women.

      3. If your report of sexual assault is to be taken seriously, it helps to (1) to be a member of the educated elite and (2) to be complaining against a Republican. Otherwise, you never know what you’re going to find if you drag a hundred dollars through a trailer park.

  13. This is shady:

    https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/18/politics/ford-letter-fbi/index.html

    “The woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault says the FBI should investigate the incident before senators hold a hearing on the allegations.

    “In a letter addressed to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and obtained by CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” Christine Blasey Ford’s attorneys argue that “a full investigation by law enforcement officials will ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a non-partisan manner, and that the Committee is fully informed before conducting any hearing or making any decisions.”

    The committee can pull in everybody concerned and hear their testimony–there is very little to nothing for the FBI to do in this situation.

    Susan Collins had a very good idea:

    https://www.vox.com/2018/9/18/17874938/supreme-court-brett-kavanaugh-susan-collins

    “Collins thinks that Kavanaugh and Ford’s respective attorneys should be able to, in effect, cross-examine the other witness as part of the hearing.”

    1. Wow, as an attorney, what a nightmare, to be told on Wednesday that you will be doing the highest-profile cross-examination of your life the following Monday. (I guess those weekend plans are canceled!) But it would be fair.

      1. Oh, I wasn’t even thinking of the attorneys!

        I was mainly thinking (like whoever I originally saw mentioning the idea) that it’s a way to cut down on the amount of time that members of Congress get to spend asking 5-minute questions where they don’t leave any time for the person being questioned to answer…which is the opposite of informative or constructive, but is somehow business as usual.

  14. An opinion in the Wash Post suggested that “professionals” do the questioning: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-senate-should-leave-the-kavanaugh-questioning-to-professionals/2018/09/18/b2a4e918-bb51-11e8-a8aa-860695e7f3fc_story.html?utm_term=.b5074b3f430d

    But, that couldn’t happen on Monday, if the goal is to understand as much of what might have happened as possible. A rushed questioning without investigation or witnesses won’t be much better than grandstanding senators.

    1. As somebody was pointing out, Ford has had a lawyer for months (hence the polygraph) and of course Ford sent Diane Feinstein a letter in late July.

      Hence, the anti-Kavanaugh side ought to be ready to roll immediately.

      That’s why it’s odd that they are the ones delaying testimony.

      1. Occam’s razor says–the reason that the anti-Kavanaugh side doesn’t want Ford to testify immediately and that they didn’t pull her out of a hat during the actual hearings is that they know she’s not going to be a convincing witness.

        I’m not saying she’s consciously lying–but she’s going to be a bad witness. She’s going to have an affecting tale of trauma–that she can’t give a time, place, or corroborating witnesses for. I’m not talking about nobody seeing Kavanaugh or Judge pounce on her, but the fact that so far, nobody has been able to substantiate her claim that there was a party of the type she describes in the time frame she describes involving the people she mentions–that’s a big deal given that there should have been half a dozen people present.

      2. Nope, I totally disagree. This is not about her qualifications as a witness. This is about doing a full investigation by an institution that would normally be seen as unbiased. Hill had an FBI investigation. So should Ford. Until this investigation is completed, it will be he said/she said.

        It’s not Ford’s job to do an investigation to support her testimony. It is the job of law enforcement. In this particular case, it is the job of the FBI.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s