Christine Blasey Ford presented herself to the Senate Judiciary Committee as the victim-survivor of a sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. She testified in a hearing filled with tears, invective, sadness, and rage by her, Kavanaugh, and Senators. Kavanaugh came in like a lion with an angry defense of self, tearing into Democrat committee members and testifying his denial of the charges, again and again. The Senators themselves displayed a range from thoughtfully inquisitive to cheap shot attempts at creating gotcha moments, to denouncing their committee colleagues.
Paging Dr. Ford
After all the “will she or won’t she” drama of the last week, Christine Ford presented herself not quite so much the hothouse flower. Her testimony mirrored that of her earlier released prepared statement. She appeared well kept, well spoken, sane and articulate, if a bit flustered by the event and its surroundings, plus a smidge of West Coast affect.
Brett groped me and tried to take off my clothes. He had a hard time because he was so drunk and because I was wearing a one-piece bathing suit under my clothes. I believed he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from screaming. This was what terrified me the most, and has had the most lasting impact on my life. It was hard for me to breathe, and I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me.
Rachel Mitchell, a sex crimes prosecutor from Arizona, was brought in by Republicans to handle the questioning of Ford. She took her through the allegations, clarifying certain points and learning new details about some aspects of the story. Mitchell did not challenge her significantly, and has already faced considerable criticism for it. The absence of a negative, however, is hard to quantify, and not having this group of older white men say something wildly (or mildly) insensitive to the sympathetic Ford is surely worth its political weight in gold.
Ms. Mitchell conducted her questioning in five-minute segments, in the stead of each Senator who yielded her his time. After each five-minute segment, the floor was given to Democrat Senators whose time was generally consumed with heaping praise on Ford, celebrating her fortitude in going forward with the testimony, and almost always asking if she wanted an FBI investigation started. Republicans, too, were soft and nice to the witness, to the extent they addressed her directly at all.
Sow the Wind
“You’ve tried hard, given it your all, no one can question your effort. But your coordinated and well-funded effort to destroy my good name and destroy my family will not drive me out.”
Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony ranged from a near tirade at the fantastic allegations reported against him and the Democrat senators who helped start the fire and fan the flames, to a tearful retelling of his own daughter’s suggestion from the night before that the Kavanaugh’s include Ms. Ford in their nightly prayers.
He denied these and all allegations of assault, rape, etc., concerning Ford’s charges and all others, over and over again. Kavanaugh told the committee members, “[y]ou have replaced advice and consent with search and destroy.”
“You may defeat me in the final vote, but you will never get me to quit,” he said. “Never.”
World’s Greatest Deliberative Body
The most impactful voice from the other side of the hearing table was from Lindsay Graham. He was outraged and disappointed with his Democrat Senate colleagues and let them have it during his time.
“Boy, you all want power,” he said to the Democrats. “God, I hope you never get it. I hope the American people can see through this sham, that you knew about it and you held it.”
Graham went on, declaring “[y]ou had no intention of protecting Dr. Ford. None!” He said Dr. Ford was as much a victim as Kavanaugh at the hands of his Committee colleagues.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination on Friday morning. Absent further delays, the full Senate will vote next week. The Supreme Court starts its new term on Monday, October 1.