A Progressive’s Defense of Kavanaugh
Originally published Oct 4, 2018
Let me make it clear up front that Kavanaugh would not be my choice for the Supreme Court. His judicial tendencies clearly favor the-powers-that-be and the prerogatives of the Deep State — he’s a perfect choice for Republicans, particularly because, by all accounts, he is a diligent legal scholar. Those who support torture and mass surveillance should be well pleased with Kavanaugh on the Court. The Democratic senators planning to vote No on his confirmation are on perfectly sound ground — at least those few of them that actually care about torture and mass surveillance. Watch Ben Swann for a concise discussion of the principled reasons to oppose Kavanaugh:
But consider what Kavanaugh has been subjected to the last few weeks.
First, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford accused him of attempted rape; currently, she claims this occurred in 1982. But her accusation, unsupported by any corroborative evidence, simply doesn’t add up, and has “evolved” over time. Just read the well-reasoned, fact-based analysis written Rachel Mitchell, the experienced prosecutor of sex crimes whom the Republicans recruited to question Ford at the hearing.
And journalist Margot Cleveland has elaborated on this theme:
Here are Mitchell’s key contentions, each of which she confirms with multiple documentable facts:
>Dr. Ford has not offered a consistent account of when the alleged assault happened
>Dr. Ford has struggled to identify Judge Kavanaugh as the assailant by name
>When speaking with her husband, Dr. Ford changed her description of the incident to become less specific
>Dr. Ford has no memory of key details of the night in question — details that could help corroborate her account
>Dr. Ford’s account of the alleged assault has not been corroborated by anyone she identified as having attended — including her lifelong friend
>Dr. Ford has not offered a consistent account of the alleged assault
>Dr. Ford has struggled to recall important recent events relating to her allegations, and her testimony regarding recent events raises further questions about her memory
>Dr. Ford’s description of the psychological impact of the event raises questions
>The activities of congressional Democrats and Dr. Ford’s attorneys likely affected Dr. Ford’s account
Cleveland notes that Ford’s recounting of the event has evolved to prevent its falsification by emerging facts. Here are her concluding comments:
Since media leaks of Ford’s charges first broke, Kavanaugh and his supporters have stressed the impossibility of proving the negative: Kavanaugh could not prove he did not attack Ford. But Kavanaugh could prove that Ford’s story could not possibly have happened by showing that none of the individuals at the supposed party lived in a house near the country club, and that none of their houses matched that described by Ford. Kavanaugh and investigators were poised to do so when Ford changed her story.
Open-minded Americans of all stripes should see that — emotions aside — Ford’s testimony is completely devoid of credibility: so much so, that Mitchell told the Senate this week that Ford’s allegations do not even meet the preponderance of evidence standard. That standard, which governs in civil litigation, asks whether it is more likely than not that an event occurred.
Yes, victims must be believed. But Ford is not a victim — at least not of Kavanaugh.
The consideration that I find most compelling is Ford’s failure to have any memory of how she returned home from the alleged party where she allegedly was assaulted. After the assault, she rushes out of the house without talking to anyone or placing a call. Her home is about 7 miles away. She doesn’t have a car, is too young to drive. She doesn’t have a cell phone in 1982. She’s in a suburb, so taxis and pay phones probably aren’t readily at hand. This would have been a real conundrum for her — it would have been a significant part of the trauma that had supposedly burned itself into her memory. If she had walked the long distance home, she certainly would have remembered that. And yet she has no recollection whatever. That just doesn’t add up. Of course, if she named the person who had taken her home, that’s a claim that could be readily falsified by the named person if not true — so perhaps there is some method in her madness.
If that were the only problem with her story, I might be generous enough to cut her some slack, but in the context of all of the other inconsistencies that Mitchell and Cleveland cite, it’s the coup de grace.
The tale of the alleged assault was first brought forth three decades after the event during a family counseling session in 2012; in her testimony, Ford declared that she and her husband were having marriage problems because Ford insisted that, owing to the post-traumatic stress disorder she purported to have, she needed a second front door for her home. (Perhaps I am somewhat lacking in generosity of spirit, but I find this to be batshit crazy.) The alleged attack was then evoked as the reason for her alleged PTSD.
Except now we know that Ford lied under oath about this. The doors were installed back in 2008 so that portions of the house could be rented to others. And one of the first tenants was a psychologist who specializes in the “recovered memories” scam.
Once Ford formulated her “memory” of the assault she experienced in high school, I presume that her therapist encouraged her to explain and excuse various failures in her later life on the trauma induced by this assault — for example, her poor performance as an undergraduate in college. Unfortunately, this can’t account for why her subsequent performance in high school was good enough to get her into the University of North Carolina — a cogent point made by Mitchell.
Do I think that Ford is sincere? That’s a difficult one. She might be one of those people who has a remarkable ability to truly believe fantasies that her brain has concocted. The fact that she first described the alleged assault three decades after it occurred, in the course of a psychotherapy session — and she won’t turn over the notes from that session — is highly suspect. False memories are often implanted during psychotherapy, often with use of hypnosis. Was hypnosis employed in Ford’s therapy? We don’t know, and she won’t tell us. And, in her professional writings, Ford has referenced studies in which self-hyponosis has been employed for “recovering memories”. False memory syndrome has caused so much havoc in the lives of so many people that there is a foundation devoted to understanding it:
It’s also curious that Ford’s accusation against Kavanaugh came forth soon after Kavanaugh had been mentioned in the press as a likely Supreme Court pick if Romney was elected. False memories are often shaped by current events.
In any case, it’s clear to me that she consciously hammed it up during her description of the assault at the hearing, just for political effect. I would wager that most women who literally had been raped 36 years ago could describe their assault without Ford’s dry-eyed, little girl weeping. No doubt her partisan attorneys coached her on this. And the possibility that partisan motives might have something to do with her recollection of Kavanaugh as her attacker can’t be ruled out. If Kavanaugh had been a liberal jurist, would she have come forward? And why did she scrub her Facebook page and her high school yearbook from the internet prior to coming forth with her accusation? Anything to hide? In contrast, Kavanaugh was forthcoming with his high school calendar.
And in at least one instance, Ford has told a readily documentable and significant lie under oath — her tale of the two doors. So it is giving her too much credit to view her simply as a victim of a false memory — she is also being consciously manipulative, in a deceptive way.
Indeed, Ford’s story of the assault appears to have been cleverly crafted to avoid falsifiability. Kavanaugh and Judge could have been expected to deny it, as they are the alleged perps. PJ Smyth and Leeland Keyser couldn’t be expected to remember a party 36 years ago at which, to the best of their knowledge, nothing exceptional had happened. She claimed she couldn’t remember who took her to the party or back home, so no one could be questioned about that. She had told Feinstein in her letter that only four other people were present at the party — those cited above. Then, when it may have occurred to her that her story would appear dubious if none of those present had lived near the Columbia Country Club at the time, she added a fourth unknown boy to the party-goers when she testified to the Senate. (Ford testified that the party house was near the country club, between it and Ford’s home 7 miles away. The map which Mitchell displayed at the Senate hearing showed that the boys who lived closest to the club, PJ Smyth and Kavanaugh, lived about 3 miles away almost due south from the club, whereas Ford’s home was due west. Indeed, none of the named boys lived between Ford and the club.) The failure of Ford to recall the date of the attack makes it impossible for Kavanaugh to establish an alibi.
When she talked about her confrontation with Mark Judge several weeks after the party at a Safeway, she made a point of noting that her mother had gone in through a separate door, so that her mother couldn’t be called on to verify the encounter. (Yep, she could remember that her mother went through a separate door, but couldn’t remember how she got home from the party.) No one could be expected to validate that Ford had told them about the assault at the time (rather like some friends of Anita Hill had done years previously in regard to her claims about Clarence Thomas) because, at least until 2012, she had told no one, not even her boyfriend or parents, about this attack so traumatic that would it scar her life for decades to come.
And what a coincidence that the three boys she fingered as being present at the party were Mark Judge and the two friends that he describes in his 1997 book, “Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Drunk”, as his party-going companions during the summer of 1982 — Kavanaugh and PJ Smyth. And that this book also mentions Judge’s employment at a local supermarket that summer. Philip Bump of the Washington Post and others quickly seized on these “coincidences” as confirmations of Ford’s story — it not having occurred to them that Ford might have used the book to concoct her tale. (Rather like the fabulists crafting the Steele dossier made use of news reports of Carter Page’s trip to Moscow to provide “confirmation” of their claims regarding Page’s treachery.)
With respect to Kavanaugh’s calendar for the summer of 1982, interest has focused on the party which Kavanaugh attended on July 1st, as this is his only calendar entry possibly consistent with his attending the party that Ford described. “Go to Timmy’s for Skis w/ Judge, Tom, PJ, Bernie, Squi.” Kavanaugh identified all of these individuals in his Senate testimony (and all have now been interviewed by the FBI). “Timmy” is Tim Gaudette, who, then and now lives in a townhouse 10–11 miles from the Columbia Country Club, as reported by Inside Edition. As noted, Ford testified that the site of the party was near that country club, between her home at the time — 7 miles away — and the country club. Unless Ford’s geometry is extremely bad, Gaudette’s home therefore is not the site of the party she describes. So either the party Ford reports did not happen, or Kavanaugh provided no clue of it in his otherwise rather meticulous calendar.
And why do Ford’s lawyers refuse to turn over to the Senate her therapist notes and the audio tape of her lie detector test, as Senator Grassley has requested? As Sara Gonzalez notes, why shouldn’t she be eager to provide any info that could corroborate her testimony?
Grassley has responded:
You have claimed repeatedly that the evidence I have requested supports Dr. Ford’s allegations against Judge Kavanaugh. She even provided some of the evidence to national news…
Indeed, if the evidence supported your client’s allegations, you surely would produce it as quickly as you could.
But you have repeatedly refused to produce this evidence to the Senate. In doing so, you are preventing the Senate from considering the evidence most crucial to Dr. Ford’s allegations. I don’t know what other inference we should derive from your refusal but that the withheld evidence does not support Dr. Ford’s allegations in quite the way you have claimed.
We are asked to believe that Ford’s memory of the alleged assault 36 years ago has been etched in stone owing to the trauma inflicted. Yet we know from the Washington Post story that those therapist notes indicate that 4 boys were involved in the attempted rape. Ford alleges that her therapist simply got it wrong, and had indicated that 4 boys were at the party. (That’s her current version, although in her letter to Feinstein she had stated that 3 boys were at the party.) Having access to those notes might help us to understand whether Ford did indeed have a razor-sharp memory of the assault, or rather gradually “recovered” a memory of it. How much of Ford’s tale is a legitimate memory, and how much of it is a creative reconstruction of the events, which Ford now interprets as the truth? Additionally, it is most peculiar that, as Mitchell emphasizes, Ford claims that she can’t recall whether she gave the Post her therapist notes, or just her own summary of those notes.
Possibly pertinent to Ford’s state of mind is the fact that Ford is a professor at Palo Alto University, an institution dedicated to empowerment of women — and wallowing in women’s grievances. While it is perfectly reasonable for a university to offer courses dedicated to such issues, building an entire college around them is — to put the best face on it — innovative. 80% of the students are female. Like slavery, this is a peculiar institution.
One other point about Ford that I haven’t seen made before: if I had been the target of a sexual assault that had severely screwed up my life, and at last was given a chance to confront my accuser, I’d try to get in his face and rip his throat out — figuratively, of course. (Had Kavanaugh been guilty, it would have been delicious to watch Kavanaugh’s face as Ford delineated his crime.) But, when Ford was given this chance, first she made several demands that would make her appearance difficult (I can’t fly — sheer BS; Kavanaugh must testify first — completely braindead), and then she would only testify if Kavanaugh were out of the room. I’m sure there are many strong women who will join me in finding this behavior quite peculiar. But, if she were really so scared and antsy, why didn’t she insist on a private hearing — which the Senators were fully amenable to? Because she wanted political impact, of course. This likewise presumably explains why Ford either refused to be interviewed privately on her home turf — or her partisan attorneys failed to inform her of this offer. Ford’s initiative was evidently intended to stick a knife in Kavanaugh’s nomination — and that could most effectively be achieved with a sensationalized public hearing.
Sadly, if Ford’s accusation had been handled properly by the Democrats who had access to it, nothing would have come of this, and Ford and Kavanaugh wouldn’t have been put through this circus. Either Feinstein should have had the FBI investigate the allegation confidentially — in which case, they would have found no corroboration and quietly dropped it — or Feinstein may have decided that it was simply inappropriate to pursue such a nebulous, uncorroborated accusation from so along ago, and simply sat on it. If that was indeed her intention, it was undercut by whoever leaked Ford’s accusation to the press. That person is the real villain of the piece, and doubtless had partisan motives. As to whether Feinstein was complicit in this leaking, I don’t have a clue —albeit her performance at the hearing suggests that she is less than deeply interested in determining who the leaker is.
Once Ford’s claim became public, and was greeted with rapturous acclaim by most Democrats and by the anti-Trump press, the smell of blood was in the water. That’s when Deborah Ramirez came forth with her half-way-coherent memory of the penis episode. The fact that Ramirez had had to question her friends to help her clarify her memory indicates that this is something that should have never been brought forth publicly at this time. Apparently, she had a week of coaching from partisans who convinced her that it was her public duty to help save the Republic from Kavanaugh. Ramirez at least has enough clarity to realize that her memory is indistinct; she simply showed poor judgement in allowing herself to be used for partisan purposes.
As to Swetnick — there is ample reason to suspect that her inherently absurd recollections of multiple gang rapes that somehow went unreported are a conscious ploy. Her past history suggests that she can be brazenly manipulative and phony. If evidence emerges that she concocted her allegations, she needs to be prosecuted as an example to others.
Take a step back and realize that what we are talking about are claims about Kavanaugh as a hard-drinking frat boy during his high school and college days. Could a drunken Kavanaugh, back in his teen years, have engaged in some inappropriate grab ass behavior, as many of his contemporaries did? Possibly. We know that he threw some ice in someone’s face during a drunken bar quarrel. What is notable is that we have seen no evidence that, during his adult life, Kavanaugh has been sexually abusive or a drunkard. Do you know that the namesake of our current pope, St. Francis, was also a hard-drinking rake during his salad days? He clearly demonstrates that redemption is possible.
Granted, if I thought that Kavanaugh actually had attempted to rape Ford, I never would approve him for dog catcher, let alone the Supreme Court. But, even if we assume that Ford’s account is accurate, it is purely her presumption that her assailant intended rape. She had her clothes on over a one-piece bathing suit; Ford alleges that her assailant tried to remove some of her clothing, but hasn’t stated how far he got. What she describes sounds more like simulated sex (a.k.a. “dry hump”), rather than an earnest rape attempt. In any case, I would find it very difficult to believe that young Kavanaugh, a church-going virgin (no woman has come forward to deny that), would have seriously attempted rape — when his subsequent conduct with women has apparently been unobjectionable.
So put yourself in Kavanaugh’s shoes — after several weeks of rigorous, dignified questioning, as you await the confirmation vote that will cap your career, you are subjected to a series of salacious charges that, to the best of your recollection, are total BS. You go on Fox News to defend yourself. Your calm, retrained denials are immediately panned by many Republicans, who claim that your performance seemed rehearsed and lacking in passion. They remind you of how Dukakis tanked his candidacy by showing insufficient passion when questioned about how he would react to the rape of his own wife. After Ford had testified, the general sense was that she had all the appearance of sincerity, and had tugged on the heartstrings of the nation. So there was tremendous pressure on Kavanaugh to come out like a raging bull — which is what he did. He had every right to be as angry as hell about the uncorroborated charges that had been thrown at him. He had every right to feel the anguish of his family. And when he wept when he recalled the extraordinary Christian generosity of his ten-year-old daughter, his tears were sincere — and much of the nation shed a tear along with him.
So the reaction of the Dems and most of the media to his earnest cry of pain was to conclude that he lacked the “judicial temperament” for the job. Just to add insult to injury. Put this in the context of the fact that, throughout his long career as a jurist, his “judicial temperament” had never before been brought into question.
Granted, Kavanaugh screwed up by implying that Hillary Clinton had had something to do with his predicament — I doubt he has any evidence for this, and Hillary had a right to cackle in response. But, aside from that, I don’t feel his presentation was out of line, given what he had been subjected to, and the pressure he was under. And the inquisition he was treated to regarding entries in his high school yearbook was really beyond the pale. This is how we choose a Supreme Court justice? Kavanaugh was right to be contemptuous of this line of questioning.
What I find most degrading about the whole affair is the behavior of the Democrat pols who immediately insisted that Ford must be believed, in the absence of any independent corroborating evidence, simply because she was a woman making a sex crime accusation. No doubt they would have made good prosecutors at the Salem witch trials. As someone who lived through the farcical but tragic days of “satanic child molestation” in the 80s and 90s — during which dozens of innocent people were imprisoned owing to false memories implanted in children by pseudo-psychologists — and more recently, the discredited allegations that have clouded the later years of one of our most distinguished auteurs, Woody Allen, I am acutely aware that uncorroborated false memories can ruin lives. We should have learned our lesson a couple of decades ago. The Democrats who are trashing our foremost judicial principle, presumption of innocence, and who are encouraging the worst tendencies of the #MeToo movement, simply in pursuit of partisan advantage, have wholly dishonored themselves. Just as with the “Russia interfered, Trump colluded” narrative, they are affecting to believe something, in the absence of credible confirmatory evidence, simply because its truth would be of partisan advantage to them. And their legacy will be to lessen the public’s credence of women who in future will come forward with honest accusations of sexual abuse. Plus, they have blown their opportunity to stress the important constitutional reasons for opposing Kavanaugh’s nomination.
As expected, the one-week FBI investigation demanded by Jeff Flake and the Democrats has turned up nothing new — most likely the accusations against Kavanaugh simply can’t be corroborated, because they are not true. The Democrats will demand that many more weeks of investigation are needed before a vote is taken — at least as many weeks as are required to postpone the confirmation vote until after the midterm elections, where the Democrats hope to wrest back control of the Senate. This transparent ploy will not work; Kavanaugh will soon be confirmed, and then expect the McResistance to outdo themselves in street antics. I had been planning to watch football this week, but I may need to switch to The Riot Channel.