Like many people, I spent a fair amount of time the past few weeks watching the Senate confirmation hearings regarding the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. It was a bizarre political psycho-drama the likes of which I’ve never seen before, and hope to never see again.
The hearings started out in a normal manner, with the Judge answering the usual questions about Supreme Court cases, legal precedent, etc. After the hearings had concluded, a Palo Alto-based professor of psychology was outed in the press as someone who alleged that the Judge had sexually assaulted her when the two were in high school. More allegations surfaced after that, including an allegation that the Judge facilitated gang rapes of high school girls by drugging them. This all culminated in an extraordinary hearing in which the accuser and the accused testified before the Senate.
I thought the accuser’s testimony was credible, except that her memory lapse on key details prevented the possibility of corroboration or any sort of forensic investigation, which would have been a tall order anyway given that the alleged assault occurred 36 years ago. We never got to hear from the person with the gang rape allegation, which to me seemed like an acknowledgement that the allegation was just too fantastical for the Senate to consider seriously, even in the current environment of heightened awareness around sexual misconduct, otherwise known as the #MeToo movement. Yet another accuser claimed that the Judge exposed himself to her at a Yale frat party. We didn’t hear from her, either. I’m not sure why, since that allegation seemed at least plausible, if, again, lacking in corroboration or any evidence beyond the mere allegation.
The most interesting part of the hearing was the testimony of the Judge. To me, it seemed like he had already, in his mind, concluded that he was not going to be confirmed, and decided that he was going to use his time unburdening himself. His opening statement was angry, emphatic, and emotional. Perhaps the accused can be understood to feel that way, given the very public humiliation he was going through, but it went way over the top, in my opinion. After all, the accuser, who, if she is to be believed, was the one assaulted, traumatized, etc., managed to keep it together pretty well. Now we’ve got the guy who is being considered for a spot on the Supreme Court and he had to pause several times to collect himself. As I watched, I thought to myself that this person is someone who has never had anything bad happen to them, until now. If that seems uncharitable, well, I’m someone who has had plenty of hard knocks in my life, so I’m probably not as sympathetic as some might be.
The Senators seemed to be taken aback by the raw emotionality of the opening statement. On that count, you could see that the gambit, if it was a gambit, paid off. The Judge was going to have his say, even if that meant throwing the confirmation process in the crapper. It seemed like his mission was to get confirmed, or go down in flames. Oddly, he managed to achieve both.
But, to me, the max level of weirdness revolved around the Judge peeling back the curtain on the breeding lair of the elites who run this country. As someone who has lived in California my whole life, it was a revelation to learn that ground zero for the elites who run the US government is Chevy Chase, Maryland. I’m Chevy Chase, and you’re not! The disconnect between that world and the one inhabited by the average American is profound. I read an article that I perceived was intended to make the accuser seem like a sympathetic figure. It said, among other things, something to the effect that her mom was the type of person who would not just glide by her daughter’s friends reclining of chaise lounge at the country club, but would stop and make time for conversation. Really? They lost me at the country club.
Same goes for the Judge. We learned more than surely any of us wanted to know about the life of a teenage boy being groomed for the highest ranks of public service. Most of it was rather pedestrian, like the drinking. Some of it was just flat-out bizarre, like the Judge’s habit of maintaining detailed calendars of his teenage life. I thought: girls keep diaries; boys keep…calendars? The worst part of the Judge’s testimony was when he kinda sorta refused to answer the question from Senator Klobuchar as to whether he had ever “blacked out” (i.e., had a memory lapse as to events that occurred while drunk). He turned the question back on the Senator, who, it turns out, had an alcoholic father. The Judge later apologized. Too late. Look, I don’t know whether this guy sexually assaulted anyone, but I’m calling BS on the black out thing. While there is no corroboration about the sexual assault, there is plenty of corroboration as to his penchant for drinking to the point of slurred, stumbling oblivion. Lots of former classmates, including at Yale, described the Judge as being a belligerent, aggressive drunk at times. I’ve seen that type of guy in action; the jock who doesn’t know when he’s had enough and starts acting like a real jerk. In the hearing, the Judge managed to achieve that look when he wasn’t drinking! I shudder to think what he must have been like back in the day.
No matter. He was confirmed by a narrow margin, mostly along party lines. So now we’ve got a guy on the Supreme Court who, by my estimation, is at least a jerk. There needs to be another track for people who aspire to government service, other than the deep state breeding lair run out of Chevy Chase, Maryland.