It was heartbreaking to watch the spectacle that played out last week before the Senate's Judiciary committee culminating in the approval of a tarnished candidate as a nominee for a position on the United States Supreme Court.
I'm old enough to clearly remember the Clarence Thomas hearings in 1991 when a reluctant Anita Hill came forward to offer evidence of sexual misconduct by the nominee only to have her reputation savaged by aging Republican males. What was even worse, however, was that the aging Democratic males on the committee did nothing to defend her.
I had hoped that in the 27 years since the Thomas debacle that the U.S. in general, and the gerontocracy in the Senate in particular, had educated themselves about sexual abuse and had learned to respect the stories of women who reluctantly come forward. Sadly, from where I sit, I see no evidence of any progress on that front.
Despite history's vindication of Hill, the advancements in women's rights and the recent #MeToo movement, apparently nothing has changed. In fact, if anything, the situation now is even worse.
In 1991, Hill spoke of Thomas's inappropriate behaviour although there had been no accusations of direct physical or sexual assault. In 2018, we have an even more serious accusation in the form of Christine Blasey Ford's account of what amounted to an attempted rape.
Surely the changes in our culture in the intervening 27 years should have resulted in Kavanaugh's nomination being withdrawn. Instead, the all-male majority of the Senate Judiciary committee steamrolled ahead with little or no regard for Ford's testimony or the fact that there were more qualified, untainted candidates to take Kavanaugh's place.
Looking back on the past hearing, I remember Thomas' aggressive self-defence filled with nasty accusations and charges, including the infamous, over-the-top "high-tech lynching for uppity blacks."At the time, I questioned the genuineness and sincerity of Thomas's words, and history has since supported my doubts. But, the fact remains, his approach worked.
Watching Kavanaugh's performance was eerily reminiscent of Thomas' speech, even to the point of Kavanaugh using Thomas' own words, such as "circus" and "national disgrace." It's as if he had studied recordings of Thomas and adopted the same sense of angered entitlement with accusations of wrongdoing against those he viewed as aligned against him, including Democrats apparently seeking "revenge on behalf of the Clintons." Even Thomas didn't go that far.
The evidentiary record strongly supports a picture of an entitled frat boy
To those who say that there was insufficient evidence to convict Kavanaugh of attempted rape in a court of law, that is irrelevant.
Kavanaugh was not on trial; he was effectively participating in a job interview for one of the most important positions in the land. As CNN contributor Jeffrey Toobin noted, if you were interviewing someone to be your children's babysitter and there were credible allegations of sexual assault against the candidate by three different people, you wouldn't likely hire them.
Quite apart from any allegations of sexual assault or impropriety on the part of Kavanaugh, it has become clear that he could have, and should have, been easily disqualified on other counts, including his intemperate behaviour and his passing familiarity with the truth.
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Here is a man who initially portrayed himself as a choirboy and later, only under pressure, admitted that he did sometimes drink a little too much beer. Even that admission is misleading as the evidentiary record strongly supports a picture of an entitled frat boy frequently drinking to excess and exhibiting misogynistic behaviour.
There is further evidence of Kavanaugh lying, including his false statement that he did not watch Ford's testimony before delivering his own, and his laughable definition of "boofing." It's one thing for his patron, United States President Donald Trump, to repeatedly escape punishment for lying; it's quite another to appoint a liar to the Supreme Court, if that occurs.
Americans should be offered sympathy for the death of one of their most cherished constitutional virtues. We will not see its like again.
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