The spectacle of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee last Thursday has sickened many Americans for a variety of reasons.
The most valid reason to feel ill centers on the culture Kavanaugh grew up in, one in which many young men didn’t think it was a big deal to grope and restrain and go further in assaulting young women, sexually and emotionally. As more and more women recall events that happened to them, the excuse of “boys will be boys” echoes, hollowly, across the land.
Yes, it was a different time. Much has been written about how movies of that era, from “Animal House” to “Porky’s” to “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” made light of and virtually normalized teen actions that today are recognized as sexual assault.
But that doesn’t make the offense any less traumatic for Christine Blasey Ford and other women coming forward with their stories.
As reported in the H-T, the details of what happened to Ford have prompted a huge spike in calls to sexual assault crisis lines. As of last Friday, Bloomington’s Middle Way House crisis line had seen a 52-percent increase in calls in September compared to the same month in 2017. On Thursday, as testimony from Ford and Kavanaugh was broadcast live, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network saw a 147-percent increase in calls.
Sarah Hunt, Middle Way House outreach communications coordinator, told the H-T’s Abby Tonsing: “We know survivors right now can’t watch the news or scroll through their news feeds without triggering their own trauma of sexual assault.”
Another good reason to be sick about what’s happening is the great divide illustrated in the reactions. The conservative political camp is quick to support its man, Kavanaugh, and demonize his accuser, Ford. “Why didn’t she come forward sooner,” they ask? They accuse her of lying. They accuse her and Democrats of the dirtiest of politics. The left asked for a deeper investigation, which is ongoing, but one wonders if there’s anything that investigation would find that would make Kavanaugh a suitable justice in their eyes. This man is guilty, they believe, and nothing will prove him innocent — which is a perversion of our justice system.
On Thursday, Kavanaugh was defensive and angry, which was forgivable. His direct and partisan attack on the other side of the political aisle, though, was unsuitable for a potential justice on the Supreme Court.
“This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups,” he said during testimony.” He called Ford’s accusation and the events surrounding it “a circus” and said: “The consequences will extend long past my nomination; the consequences will be with us for decades.”
The same way sexual assault stays with survivors. For decades.
This whole thing is a circus, complete with some unpleasant smells one expects from animal acts. For the sake of the independent judiciary and the nation, the best thing that could happen now would be for Trump to withdraw this nomination and go to the next conservative judge on the list he prepared before his election.
Kavanaugh’s nomination has been irreparably damaged, by the allegation and by his partisan reaction to it. Republicans should accept that. And Democrats should recognize Trump will get to name the next Supreme Court justice no matter what happens in the midterm elections.