Skepticism on the capabilities of Kavanaugh
by Conrad Bascom
How supremely ironic is it that the latest power-player on the Hill to be embroiled in a sex scandal stemming from his past is a former underling of Kenneth Star and one of the co-conspirators in the investigation into the Clinton/ Lewinsky tryst that resulted in the failed impeachment attempt? As a staunchly-conservative and hard-partying postgraduate fellow with Starr at the Office of Independent Counsel, Brett Kavanaugh was instrumental in the creation of the Starr Report—which unequivocally urged Congress to file articles of impeachment.
Kavanaugh’s years of digging up dirt on the Republican Party’s most wanted of the executive branch ended up paying ample dividends for the young lawyer, as he was next appointed to aid in the George W. Bush campaign’s arm of the Florida recount. After demonstrating his efficacy in navigating such crisis situations, Kavanaugh was then appointed by President Bush to serve as White House Staff Secretary. During his tenure as Staff Secretary, Kavanaugh logged many hours in service of identifying and confirming judicial nominees for the administration. Once again proving his mettle to his higher-ups in and around the Oval Office, Kavanaugh was rewarded with a nomination to the U.S Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The hearings were a point of partisan contention—and Democrats reluctance to confirm Kavanaugh back in those days was ultimately borne out, as Kavanaugh’s policy rulings established the honorable Judge as the most conservative of Judges on the D.C. Court.
Which brings us to today—to Kavanaugh’s nomination for Supreme Court Justice and the ensuing PR imbroglio that has engulfed the nation. Kavanaugh has come under fire for multiple instances of alleged sexual misconduct from his past—the first two dating to his days as a promising Georgetown Prep high school student and a third from his studies at Yale.
I primarily want to talk about Judge Kavanaugh’s statements, behavior, and composure while being questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation that Kavanaugh forced himself upon her at a high school kegger in the early 1980s.
Dr. Ford exhibited immense courage and self-sacrifice in testifying before the Senate Committee; she provided an excellent and humble example of the way to comport oneself while under the scrutiny of the Senate, an example that Kavanaugh would have done well to follow.
Unfortunately, Kavanaugh declined to pattern himself after the gracious testimony given by Dr. Ford, and that’s the reason that I feel we can safely assume that Kavanaugh is, at the very least, partially guilty of some of the allegations levelled against him. You see, Kavanaugh displayed some of the characteristic behaviors of someone with something to hide: he equivocated, he obfuscated, he talked back, he was belligerent, and he did his darnedest to turn the interviews on their heads.
In particular, I’m reminded of the moment when Kavanaugh venomously spat a question back at Sen. Klobuchar of Minnesota right after she’d asked it: “Have YOU ever blacked out from drinking, Senator?”
That exchange illustrates what has become one of the major themes of the scandal—alcoholism and substance abuse. Even more so, whether someone being appointed to the highest judiciary position in the land should be held accountable for the mistakes of adolescence. Or, better yet: are we capable of outgrowing the destructive and self-destructive tendencies of our youth?
As someone in recovery . . . as someone who used to traffic in a fair amount of fibs, self-justifications, overly-zealous declarations of victimhood, and deliberately muddy declarations—all rhetorical devices turned to in service of maintaining and protecting my past habits—I can tell you, frankly and honestly, that I could see quite a bit of my past behavior reflected in Kavanaugh on the stand and during cross-examination.
If he had merely fessed up to having a drinking problem during his youth, instead of trying to downplay all of the references to drinking and sex in his yearbook and journals, we might have been able to take him at his word. But instead, all the little lies about the meaning of “ralphing” and “Devil’s Triangle” have confirmed what I most feared—that he is, in effect, lying to the Senate about having sexually assaulted a classmate during his high school years.