To the Editor:
On Sept. 27, Americans witnessed a crime being committed before a huge TV audience, although no one will ever be prosecuted. The crime was perjury before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Since Christine Blasey Ford came forth with her accusations of Brett Kavanaugh, I am not aware of any prominent Republican politician who has stepped up to the plate and denounced her as an outrageous liar. Even Donald Trump, whose modus operandi is to immediately and aggressively attack the veracity of any woman who charges him with sexual misbehavior, was initially restrained in his response. Republicans were afraid that an all-out attack on Ford might alienate many women who are inclined to believe any woman who describes a sexual assault upon her.
How then to assure American voters that Ford’s allegation was untrue without actually condemning her as a despicable liar? A number of Republicans, including the swing voter, Susan Collins, chose to make a conciliatory reply to her.
They expressed their respect and deep sympathy for Ford. They believed she must indeed have been a victim of sexual assault. But they were certain that she had somehow gotten into her 15-year-old teenage brain the mistaken impression that Kavanaugh was the perpetrator.
This extremely dubious, almost laughable rationalization, that this was a case of mistaken identity was definitively disposed of by Ford on Sept. 27. She testified emphatically that she was “100 percent certain” Kavanaugh had assaulted her. She named his close friend, Mark Judge, and two other people as present in the house where the alleged assault occurred.
Was she hallucinating? Did she mistake the identity not only of Kavanaugh, but of three other people? Hardly.
There are only two possibilities. One is that Ford is an unscrupulous, malicious woman who decided to concoct an elaborate false tale of assault by Kavanaugh, and had such bravado, and such confidence in her talent as a con artist, that she believed she could make her lies credible to a national TV audience.
The other possibility is that Ford spoke the truth, and Kavanaugh lied when he denied her allegations.
Two witnesses testified on Sept. 27. One of them testified truthfully. The other lied under oath.
There is an element of déjà vu all over again here. In 1991, Clarence Thomas, seething with fury, went before the Senate Committee and made nonsensical statement that Anita Hill’s testimony constituted the “high tech lynching” of an “uppity” black man.
In a comparable display of anger, Kavanaugh embarrassed himself by making the equally nonsensical charge that Ford’s testimony was in some way prompted by Bill and Hillary Clinton’s determination to revenge themselves upon him.
There is also a note of irony here. Has Trump really enriched the quality of Kavanaugh’s life? Will Kavanaugh, his wife, and daughters find life happier than if he had not been thrust into the limelight?
Had he not been nominated, it is almost certain that Ford would not have come forward with her accusation. It seems unlikely that anyone would ever have made a public allegation that cast doubt on his moral character. He could have gone through his career as a lifetime appointee to a prestigious Federal Appellate Court and retired as a respected jurist of unblemished reputation.
This is no longer true. Kavanaugh, in his high school and college years, often drank himself into a state of belligerence or incoherence. We know that Kavanaugh and his coterie of prep school friends joked about being “obnoxious drunks” and frequently vomiting after their hours of drinking. We know that they cruelly maligned another teenage girl (not Ford) by portraying her in their Georgetown Day class yearbook as generously distributing her sexual favors among them. We know that two more women have joined Ford in accusing Kavanaugh, whether truthfully or falsely, of sexual misbehavior, and that the FBI made no serious effort to investigate their allegations.
Kavanaugh also did irreparable damage to his public image in his appearance before the Senate Committee. He erupted in an unrestrained tirade against Democrats, “leftists,” and the Clintons. He bristled with hostility in some of his exchanges with Democratic senators. He inexplicably chose to insult Senator Amy Klobuchar. His behavior was so offensive that hundreds of law school professors joined in a public statement that, entirely aside from any issue of sexual misbehavior, he had shown himself to be temperamentally unfit to serve on the Supreme Court.
Today a majority of those who watched and remember the 1991 hearings believe that Anita Hill told the truth and that Clarence Thomas disgraced himself by his response to her.
Years from now, a huge number of Americans will still believe, rightly or wrongly, that Kavanaugh assaulted a 15-year old girl and then lied about it in a Senate hearing.
As with Thomas, a large, dark question mark will hang over his head for the rest of his career.
The Kavanaugh controversy is far from over. There is a story to be told here, and writers will compete to tell it. Resourceful investigative journalists, with book contracts in prospect, will talk to far more people than the FBI contacted. They will follow up on the leads the FBI never followed. They will not be subject to time constraints imposed by Donald Trump and Republican senators.
They will publish their findings in books and articles, and discuss them on TV programs. I doubt the portrait they paint of Kavanaugh will be flattering.