MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, MD. Many of us sat riveted to the tube last week watching the Senate hearings for a new Supreme Court justice. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh presented testimony about events that allegedly took place in or about 1982 in the Maryland suburbs of our Nation’s capital. In addition to the testimony of each witness, Americans also got a rare glimpse into the rarified world of American social privilege and entitlement.
Dr. Ford testified that Kavenaugh assaulted her while in a state of intoxication. She claimed that she was followed to the bathroom in a second floor, pushed from behind into a bedroom, thrown on a bed, where she found herself under Kavanaugh. She said Kavanaugh groped her and tried to remove or shift her clothing but was too drunk to be effective. When she tried to scream for help, she said that Kavanaugh covered her mouth and she testified that she was afraid to be suffocated accidentally.
According to Dr. Ford, Kavanaugh and a friend appeared to be having a great time while they laughed throughout the encounter. She said she was finally able to get away when Kavanaugh’s friend jumped on the bed and all three tumbled to the floor. She then ran into the bathroom and waited until she heard the two boys go downstairs.
Except for the details of the attack, Dr. Ford appeared to have a fuzzy memory when it came to other facts and details, including the exact date of the alleged incident, the address of the house and others that were present.
Judge Kavenaugh denied that this incident ever happened and assured the committee that while he drank beer as a student, he never did to the point of losing control and forgetting what happened. He also stated that he had stayed celibate until much later in life.
He described how his life had been very successful thanks to his hard work and said had never done anything like what Dr. Ford described. He believed she had confused him with someone else.
Both Ford and Kavenaugh appeared to be very emotional at times during this special hearing. But while the former related her experiences and answered questions without sarcasm or bombastic statements, Judge Kavenaugh did not. He cried several times during his testimony and used sarcasm in response to some of the questions posed by Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He also made a bizarre accusation that the Clintons had set up the whole thing as revenge.
When it comes to memories, it depends
It is very likely that most people would have forgotten details related to an incident that happened over 35 years ago. But psychologists agree that if a high degree of trauma is involved, the act itself would stay alive somewhere in the mind of the victim forever. Details concerning location, the names of other people present, how an alleged victim got to the destination and how the alleged victim got home could most likely be forgotten with time.
Yet a violent act like a sexual attack and the identity of the perpetrator would likely stay fresh forever. This phenomenon is in some ways similar to the experience of this author, who still remembers the iron gate that fell on him when he was only four years old.
The level of detail in Dr. Ford’s narrative relating to the attack was compelling. On the other hand, it is possible that Judge Kavenaugh does not have any recollection of the alleged event. Maybe it was not that important to him, especially if he was in a high state of drunkenness. While he claimed that he never drank to the point of losing control or blacking out, others have come forward to contradict that statement.
In the end, it is possible that both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh may be telling the truth. As they remember it.
Glimpsing a world of privilege and entitlement, what do average Americans see?
Most of the rest of us who did not grow up in posh Bethesda, Maryland, who did not attend prep school and could not attend Yale or some other elite school or college, have at least some misgivings after this most recent Senate hearing. Both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavenaugh were children of privilege. But they behaved very differently during the hearings.
Dr. Ford appeared to be out of her element and reluctant to participate. She confessed her nervousness to be in front of the Senate and her reluctance to come forward and reveal parts of her life that were obviously traumatic.
He came out swinging and full of rage. He clamored about his hard work, his successful prep school and Ivy League experience and his sports accomplishments. His denial of drinking to excess and losing control sounded hollow. He showed sarcasm and contempt for the Democrats that dared question his veracity. It was clear that he had a sense of entitlement. The way he chose to attack committee Democrats also showed that he is very partisan.
The recently concluded hearings and Judge Kavenaugh’s choice to behave emotionally and antagonistically have damaged his candidacy. Tough words by at least one Republican and mocking words by the President have also resonated badly for the judge.
Statements by several of his fellow students in prep school and college indicate that Judge Kavenaugh did drink to excess. In addition, some classmates said he would frequently lose control. This directly contradicts what the judge testified before the Senate.
Is Judge Kavanaugh damaged beyond confirmation? Not even close. The reasons why? He potentially holds the key to at least two critical Supreme Court decisions. Both would benefit the Republican cause and, specifically, President Trump. One could involve a repeal of Roe v. Wade. The other could involve the extension of Presidential pardons to cover individual states. This latter decision could potentially render any decision on the DOJ’s ongoing Russia probe null and void.
— Headline photo: Dr. Christine Blasey Ford during recent appearance before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. (U.S. Congress photo, public domain.)
Mario Salazar, the 21st Century Pacifist, believes that a judge in the Supreme Court should have the character to make decisions of life and death and decisions regarding the successful continuation of our country. He is on Twitter (@chibcharus), Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook (Mario Salazar).