Since the older we get — and statistics back this up — the more engaged we are with the political process, the more likely it is that many of us have taken sides in the controversy over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. But what we hear from baby boomers more than anything else is that there’s blame to go around, politics has become dysfunctional, and a pox on both their houses. In this Boomer Opinion piece, BoomerCafé executive editor and co-founder Greg Dobbs writes about unworthy behavior from both sides of the aisle.
Oh, so now we know: Brett Kavanagh didn’t do it!
Or maybe I have it wrong: Brett Kavanaugh did it.
To hear our nation’s leaders talk about it — from both political parties — they already know the truth. Before the hearing, before more evidence is presented.
A pox on both their houses.
So what, that Kavanaugh’s Republican defenders haven’t yet heard from his accuser under oath— check that, make it two accusers.
If you listen to them, apparently there’s really no reason to hear what Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has to say under oath (let alone Deborah Ramirez, who told The New Yorker that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her, and worse, when they were classmates at Yale). These senators already have read his accusers’ accounts. To hear them tell it, they already know the women are lying.
Like Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who, without hearing them out, promised to “plow right through” with Kavanaugh’s nomination — as if to say, we’ll sweep that pesky PhD’s claims into the trash, don’t you worry — and asserted that Brett Kavanaugh “will make an exceptional justice.”
Or Utah’s Orrin Hatch, who declared that the Democrats who got Dr. Blasey to go public “will stop at nothing to prevent Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation.”
Or South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, who complains, “I’m not going to ruin Judge Kavanaugh’s life over [an] accusation this vague, not verified in any way.”
Or of course the President himself, who weighed in on Kavanaugh’s second accuser, calling her “messed up” and “drunk” at the Yale party she recounts. Maybe she was. But guess what: maybe Kavanaugh was too. Doesn’t matter; the President has said he backs the judge “all the way.”
How can they all be so sure that the man’s worth backing, that these accusations of sexual assault are just a slimy smear campaign to discredit a conservative nominee to the high court? Because Judge Kavanaugh says so, that’s how. And to use a Trumpian turn of phrase, “everyone knows” he’s honest. And respectable. And would never do a thing like that.
Neither would America’s Dad, Bill Cosby.
No, it’s not fair to pair Kavanaugh and Cosby. After all, maybe this is a smear campaign without merit. Maybe Brett Kavanaugh is telling the truth and Dr. Blasey is lying, or at best, recklessly mistaken. We haven’t yet heard him under oath either.
But to make up your mind before they testify? As private citizens, we’re free to reach any conclusion we like, whenever we like, with as little to go on as we like. But for United States senators who will be sitting in judgement? It’s dishonorable.
And that goes for Democrats too. From California’s Dianne Feinstein to Hawaii’s Mazie Hirono to Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. All we know so far is that Judge Kavanaugh’s accuser, Dr. Blasey, is an “alleged” victim, not a victim. Yet Democratic senators have used language that convicts the man before his trial. The fact that in the past year a growing collection of renowned and respected leaders from business and entertainment and politics have been credibly accused of assault doesn’t mean Judge Kavanaugh deserves to be mentioned in the same breath. It doesn’t mean he deserves to have his life ruined. At least not yet.
I haven’t made my own mind up. Yes, evidently there is corroborating evidence — not conclusive, but corroborating — that supports Blasey’s story. At the very least, it seems more than what Senator Graham characterizes as a “vague” accusation. The expositive session recorded by the therapist, the affirmative lie detector test. And one can’t help but wonder, would a woman fabricate a story this bad, then beg the FBI to look into it?
Of course President Trump couldn’t help but wonder something too, as he opined in a tweet: if an attack on Dr. Blasey “was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities.” Maybe (for a change) the president should have spent even more time on Twitter that day. He’d have read literally tens of thousands of tweets from women across America, elaborating on what became the hashtag, “#WhyIDidntReport.”
And the names. In Judge Kavanaugh’s favor is that those Blasey names as participants at the high school party three-and-a-half decades ago say they don’t remember the incident she describes. But in the professor’s favor, the only ones who are likely never to forget it would be the ones who were at the heart of it. And that includes the other teen alleged to have been directly involved in what Dr. Blasey describes: Mark Judge, author of a book tellingly titled “Wasted: Tales of a GenX Drunk.” He describes the wasted behavior of his pseudonymically-named buddy “Bart O’Kavanaugh.” Coincidence?
If Kavanaugh did what Blasey says he did, there is no excuse for his behavior, no matter how young he was. A 17-year-old is not a child. Maybe more important, if his denials prove to be lies, there is no justification for his appointment to our highest court.
Judge Kavanaugh deserves the presumption of innocence. If he is telling the truth, then the charges against him are shameful.
But Dr. Blasey is equally deserving. If she made it all up, she deserves to be shamed, or worse. But first she deserves to be heard, to be taken seriously.
And both the accuser, and the accused, deserve to be judged by a panel with open minds.
The evidence so far suggests, that might not happen. On either side.