Gut check on Kavanaugh

  • 17 September 2018
  • NormanL

The Senate Judiciary Committee is apparently leaning toward having Judge Brett Kavanaugh's accuser testify under oath before his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court is sent to vote:

Christine Ford, a California-based professor, revealed her identity in a Washington Post report on Sunday, following her letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., alleging sexual assault. She said that Kavanaugh, 36 years ago while in high school, pinned her down, tried to remove her bathing suit and put his hand over her mouth when she attempted to scream.

Kavanaugh has denied the allegation, and the White House has stood by that denial.

“I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time,” Kavanaugh, 53, said in a statement last week.

But White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway said Monday on “Fox & Friends” that both Ford and Kavanaugh should be heard on the accusations.

“This woman should not be insulted and she should not be ignored. I think the Senate is headed toward a reasonable approach, allowing this woman to be heard in sworn testimony, allowing Judge Kavanaugh to be heard in sworn testimony,” Conway said. “I spoke with the president, I spoke with Senator [Lindsey] Graham and others. This woman will be heard.”

Conway said the committee will decide “how and in what form” Ford would share her account, suggesting it could be in a public setting or even over the phone. Conway, though, noted that Ford’s account, while it should be considered, should also be “weighed against” other evidence.

“This has to be weighed against what we already know—which is that Judge Kavanaugh is a man of good character and integrity,” Conway said, noting he has been through half a dozen rounds of FBI “vetting” and has been “lauded by women in every aspect of his life,” including former classmates, and mothers of young girls he coaches in basketball.

Whatever one thinks about Ford's charges, the politics are fairly clear: Pushing Kavanaugh through without hearing from Ford would guarantee a political firestorm the GOP cannot afford. Put her under oath, and let her speak -- the sooner the better. And let Kavanaugh have his chance to address the matter as well. Lay everything out, and let the facts lead where they may.

Of course, this assumes there are open minds in the Senate willing to let facts determine their actions. That's giving the Senate worthies far too much credit. The Democrats were never going to back Kavanaugh, and now they have an iron-clad excuse not to. Most Republicans were always going to vote or him, but their task has become more difficult. Not impossible, of course. Kavanaugh has shown he is more than qualified for the court, and has scores of friends and colleagues ready to testify in defense of his good name and reputation.

But there are many unknowns ahead. What will Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins - publicly uncommitted on Kavanaugh -- do now? We do not know. Nor do we know what might be said under oath, either by Ford or Kavanaugh. 

We do know, however, that the clock is ticking. There's little time between now and the November elctions to get Kavanaugh through. If he is somehow derailed, then there may be no time at all to get another nominee approved before the end of the year.

Our cynical side says this is all a massive dirty Democratic trick, timed perfectly to thrown the entire process into chaos. This is politics, after all, and politics isn't for the squeamish or faint of heart. But let's hear Ford testify under oath.  Let's her be questioned. And let's hear from Judge Kavanaugh, too -- under oath, and questioned.  We can weigh the facts, their responses, and then let our Senators know what we think they should do.