Kavanaugh v. Ford

Judge Brett Kavanaugh in his high school yearbook photo

Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Professor Christine Ford in their high school yearbook photos
The on-going controversy surrounding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford has brought to the fore a number of issues. For starters it’s about alleged sexual misconduct, and when it’s appropriate for a victim to come forward. It’s about alcoholism and the effects that drinking can have on one’s behavior and memory. It’s about politics, as GOP senators tried to rush through Kavanaugh’s appointment, just in case the Democrats should take over both chambers after November. It’s about protecting the President who, with Kavanaugh on the high court, would likely never have to answer a subpoena, or be indicted for anything. It’s about keeping women like Professor Ford in their place, the same way an all-white male committee did with Anita Hill in 1991. It’s about women’s rights because Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court could spell doom for Roe v. Wade. It’s also about the rise of #MeToo, and how that movement tends to automatically believe alleged female victims even absent of any proof. But more than anything, it’s a story about entitlement. While the media was quick to harken back to Anita Hill for a comparative narrative, they should have been looking at why Ford allegedly found herself at the mercy of Kavanaugh to begin with.

Just as Ted Kennedy felt entitled to lie about leaving Mary Jo Kopechne to die in a stream, and Bill Clinton felt entitled to lie about his relationship with Monica Lewinski, 17-year-old Brett Kavanaugh might have felt entitled when he allegedly threw 15-year-old Christine Blasey onto a bed, held her down, attempted to undress her, and nearly suffocated her as she tried to scream for help. In his book, “Wasted: Tales of a GenX Drunk”, Mark Judge (who was a witness to the Ford incident, but says he can’t recall it), writes that Georgetown Prep was a hotbed of drunken parties. In fact, in his account of those prep school days, Judge wrote of a classmate named “Bart O’Cavanaugh”, who often got drunk and once threw up in a friend’s car. So perhaps Brett Kavanaugh felt entitled to lie about his involvement with Blasey Ford 36 years ago. After all, it was Kavanaugh who, in 2015, told a group of students, “What happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep, and that’s a good thing for all of us.”

But even if Kavanaugh did what Ford alleges, there are apologists who say that no one should be judged for what he did as a teenager. I disagree for the simple reason that what we do as a teen informs who we become as an adult, and that brings me back to entitlement. Some men do whatever they want, because they don’t have to be held accountable. That’s why if you’re looking for a parallel storyline to the Kavanaugh/Ford saga, don’t focus on Anita Hill. Just look at Mitt Romney.

As a high school senior Mitt had a sense of disdain for homosexuals and non-conformists, so much so that one night he and four of his preppy buddies spotted a gay student with long hair and Mitt became enraged, saying, “He can’t look like that.” Mitt and his gang proceeded to grab the gay boy, hold him down, and shave off his hair. When this story surfaced during the 2012 presidential campaign, Romney’s buddies came forward and apologized for the assault, while Mitt who led the attack, had his spokesperson issue a statement, which said, “Governor Romney has no memory of participating in this incident.” As with the Kavanaugh/Ford incident, many people chalked up Romney’s assault as a youthful indiscretion. I’m sorry, but cutting off a gay boy’s hair or holding a teenage girl against her will, are not youthful indiscretions. One is a hate crime, and the other is kidnapping.

If we learn nothing else from the Kavanaugh/Ford saga, it should be that character matters, and, going forward, we should be assured that the character of both accuser and accused is fully vetted before we appoint or reject someone for high office. The American people are entitled to no less.

 
 

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