Kavanaugh confirmation process needs a good scrubbing
When it comes to the nomination process of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, are neither conservatives nor liberals thinking clearly?
How I miss the good ol' days, when the process of confirming a Supreme Court justice was boring and technical -- and didn't make you feel like you needed a shower.
There is a new allegation of sexual misconduct against Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump's embattled choice for the Supreme Court. The latest charge -- dating back to when Kavanaugh was a freshman at Yale during the 1983-84 academic year -- involves a college classmate.
While initially reluctant to come forward and tell her story, Deborah Ramirez has now had her identity revealed, because The New Yorker contacted her after learning about the incident. She told the magazine that after six days of sorting through gaps in her memory and consulting with her attorney, she felt confident that Kavanaugh thrust his penis in her face at an alcohol-fueled dormitory party.
Time out. We are right to be suspicious of those who consult with an attorney to help them remember something this politically sensitive. A therapist, fine. But not an attorney. How much of what Ramirez is now charging comes from the recesses of her mind as opposed to whatever political leanings her lawyer might have?
Ramirez wants the FBI to investigate the alleged incident. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford also wants the FBI to look into an alleged incident that supposedly occurred when Ford was 15 and Kavanaugh was a 17-year-old student at Georgetown Preparatory School.
We're going to need a bigger FBI. Besides, let's give the bureau a break. These are cops, not psychics. It won't be easy to get to the bottom of any of this, given that so much time has passed.
But right-wingers defending Kavanaugh are also off-base. First of all, they don't have the foggiest idea what happened at these specific parties in the 1980s. They also put too much stock in the fact that Kavanaugh has undergone a half-dozen background checks. So what? Those knowledgeable about such inquiries have told reporters that they're meant to find any kind of current problem, not something from the distant past -- especially if there were no criminal charges.
In a statement, Kavanaugh responded to Ramirez's claim as follows: "This alleged event from 35 years ago did not happen. The people who knew me then know that this did not happen, and have said so. This is a smear, plain and simple."
Both Kavanaugh and Ford are expected to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are investigating Ramirez's allegation, and no doubt hoping that there will be more women coming forward with additional new accusations against Kavanaugh. Republicans are pushing for a vote on the nomination as soon as possible -- perhaps trying to head off additional claims.
You have to pity everyone involved. This is like one of those science-fiction movies where machines rise up against people. In this case, the institution of government -- which is supposed to serve and represent constituents like Kavanaugh and Ford -- now seems determined to destroy them. And why is that? Because doing so serves the interest of the political parties. Kavanaugh and Ford are both collateral damage in this drama, which is being completely driven by politics and politicians.
People are asking why anyone in their right mind would accept a nomination to anything in this climate. But it's also fair to ask why anyone in their right mind would dare to speak out against a nominee to anything in this climate. Either way, you'll be raked over the coals.
Conservatives are not thinking clearly. Many reflexively shrug off every allegation against Kavanaugh. There ought to be a trigger number. For me, as a journalist who has covered many scandals, the tipping point is the number five. One or two instances might be explained away. But by the time you get to five, you're looking at a pattern. Besides, if Republicans are right that Kavanaugh is innocent and this is just politics, why didn't Trump's first Supreme Court nominee -- Neil Gorsuch -- meet a similar fate?
Liberals are also not thinking clearly. They tend to believe wholesale every woman who comes forward with any accusation against Kavanaugh. They do so, they say, because women don't make this stuff up or because the same thing happened to a woman they know. The hashtag -- #WhyIDidntReport -- is trending, as scores of women share their stories of being sexually abused or harassed. How long before we see another hashtag trending among men: #TheTimeIWasFalselyAccused?
Showers all around. But if the goal is to get totally clean, I doubt the country has enough soap.
Ruben Navarrette's email address is [email protected]. His daily podcast, "Navarrette Nation," is available through every podcast app.