by Errington C. Thompson, MD –
Oh, were you riveted to the TV?
In a completely meaningless late-September confrontation, the Senate Judiciary Committee decided to hold hearings in which they would interview Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh. It is almost like we learned nothing from the Anita Hill–Clarence Thomas debacle from 27 years ago.
Anita Hill, as you recall, came forward with allegations of sexual harassment against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. She outlined several specific allegations. The highlight of Thomas’s testimony was his angry denunciations, which included him calling the hearing “a high-tech lynching.”
That was the phrase that galvanized Republicans to lift this “brave black man” onto the Supreme Court. Of course, in retrospect, Clarence Thomas was lying, and Anita Hill was telling the truth. She was a martyr. She basically exposed her life to tell the truth. (I am voting for Anita Hill for president!)
Now, a generation later, the latest Supreme Court nominee has been accused by Dr. Blasey Ford of being drunk at a high school party and sexually assaulting her.
Please understand, there are thousands of ways that the Senate Republicans on the Judiciary Committee could have responded to these accusations when they set up their hearing.
Brett Kavanaugh could have demanded a fair and open process—one that would have ended with a definitive conclusion on whether he was guilty or innocent.
Instead of holding a misleading, public-relations interview on Fox News days before his testimony, Kavanaugh could have announced that he wanted a real hearing, with witnesses from both sides to tell their tale.
He could have insisted that the process take as long as necessary in order for justice to prevail.
Instead, like Clarence Thomas before him, he gave an angry, contentious, emotional rebuttal that contained no facts—only the self-portrait of a perfect little choir boy. The hearing devolved to “he said/she said.” Do you believe the rich white kid who grew up with privilege? The beer-guzzling (but never, never drunk), church-going, sports and academic star who carefully maintained his virginity for years? The bright boy who got into Yale Law School on his own merits (despite his wealthy grandfather being a Yale alumnus)?
Or do you believe the highly educated white woman who stepped out of her comfort zone in order to tell this gut-wrenching account of sexual assault?
Well, “he said,” so that is the end of the story.
Oh, wait! Julie Swetnick came forward and stated that she, too, knew Brett Kavanaugh in high school. She said she personally witnessed women being verbally abused and molested and that use of alcohol and drugs was rampant. Of course, that brought an instant rebuttal from Kavanaugh and his classmates. According to Kavanaugh’s friends, no one ever heard of Julie Swetnick: “she wasn’t part” of their elite circles. I have my doubts. This story has yet to really get fleshed out.
Deborah Ramirez was at Yale the same time as Brett Kavanaugh. She has accused him of exposing himself in a drunken stupor at one of the infamous Yale parties. (The famous movie Animal House was a parody of Yale fraternities.)
Of course, Brett Kavanaugh has denied this. He has even gone so far as to say that he does not even know Deborah Ramirez. He has never heard of her. He has never seen her. Yet, a photo has surfaced that shows both Brett Kavanaugh and Deborah Ramirez—in the same picture—at one of his friends’ weddings.
Another friend, or former friend, of Brett Kavanaugh sent a letter to CNN stating that he knew Kavanaugh in college. They ran in the same circles. They hung out together. They both drank to excess. He stated that the picture that Brett Kavanaugh painted of himself in high school and college was simply a lie.
Now, I did not go to Georgetown Prep with Brett Kavanaugh. But I did grow up in similar circumstances. I went to school with people who had great wealth. In spite of the fact that the class size was relatively small compared to public school, there were still cliques.
There was a group of guys who could do anything and get away with it. For example, on spring break my parents would take me to the Ozarks—a nice, comfortable vacation. Their parents would take them to climb the Matterhorn, or on a seven-day excursion to China—at a time when China was inaccessible to us mere mortals.
If you do not personally know these guys, you have heard of them. They exist everywhere, like the “affluenza” kid who almost got away with murder after drunkenly killing four people with his car and seriously injuring nine others—and was sentenced to ten years’ probation.
These kids got into trouble, their parents bailed them out. Their records were expunged like it never happened. At parties, we regular kids would have one or two beers, while they would have already had a few before the party ever started. They would act like they were your best friends when they needed you to drive them home afterwards, because they were too drunk to drive. Then they threw up in your car—and on Monday morning they ignored you like a bad date.
I am not sure that Brett Kavanaugh should be disqualified as a Supreme Court justice because he drank as a teenager. I am not sure that he should be kicked out of the elite justice club just because he drank and was boorish in college. We have all made bad decisions. We have all done stupid things that we regret. But, we have NOT all lied about it.
If Brett Kavanaugh had shown the character to stand up before the Senate Judiciary Committee and state that he drank, and probably drank to excess, and did some things that he was not proud of, I would have respected him. If he had stood up and apologized for doing things that he may not even remember, I would have stood up and applauded. If he had expressed remorse and sorrow for the pain and trauma that have afflicted Dr. Blasey Ford for years, it would have made all the difference. Because that is the kind of honesty and decency we need on the Supreme Court.
Unfortunately, he did not do that. He lied. He obfuscated. He played the angry partisan card by blaming his problems on the Democrats as part of some HUGE conspiracy dreamed up by George Soros or the Clintons or someone. He allowed—perhaps even encouraged—his fellow Republicans to smear his accusers’ names and reputations.
Yes, we all know Brett Kavanaugh. He does not belong on the Supreme Court.
Listen to the Errington Thompson Show, available through Podcast and download at: www.whereistheoutrage.net