Whatever benefit of a doubt I had given to Brett Kavanaugh about his suitability for the U.S. Supreme Court has gone out the window. Seeing is believing, and what I saw at the Senate judiciary hearing on Thursday was jarring. It convinced me that Kavanaugh is a liar and that Christine Blasey Ford is the one telling the truth.
I knew it was a long shot, but I hoped that Kavanaugh might be more forthcoming about his youth—the hard drinking, the hard partying and the consequences that can result.
Ten days ago, I made the controversial argument that his alleged behavior should be viewed in the context of the 1980s era, the culture he grew up in and his youth. I don’t believe in a black/white, hero/villain version of anyone, and I wished Kavanaugh would meet me halfway.
I would have fewer qualms about his nomination to the Supreme Court if he had said he made mistakes in his youth, learned from them and is now a changed man. I wanted him to be more reflective, more nuanced. But he was quite the opposite.
Not only did he persist in painting himself as a choirboy (how often did he allude to going to church during his youth?), but he also suggested—absurdly—that he was simply too academically engaged and accomplished to commit sexual assault. I lost count of how many times he mentioned that he busted his buns at school, served as captain of various sports teams, graduated No. 1 from Georgetown Prep, went to Yale undergraduate and got into Yale Law School—which, he reminded folks, is the No. 1 law school in the country (for those of you too unsophisticated to know).
What Kavanaugh was also conveying was that he deserves to be elevated: He’s got the right resume, and damnit, he’s worked hard for it. And, oh, he will also crush you if you get in the way.
I hate to call it a distinctly male entitlement, but I honestly can’t imagine a woman acting as if she should get an automatic ticket to advancement because she’s so great. I certainly can’t imagine any woman throwing the kind of testosterone-fueled hissy fit that Kavanaugh did for a prospective job. He ranted, he cried and he made threats. Among other things, Kavanaugh called the hearings a “national disgrace,” denouncing Democrats, the left, the Clintons, Trump haters and other ghosts and goblins of the Deep State. He also said, “What goes around, comes around,” which in my book is a veiled threat.
Overall, I found his testimony hard to watch, because I felt embarrassed for him. He lowered himself in a way I can’t remember other contenders for the Supreme Court doing.
But despite the overspilling emotions, he kept to his script, denying his heavy drinking, the derogatory sexual term that he and other male schoolmates used to describe a girl in high school and dodging questions about whether he’d insist on an FBI investigation into the sexual assault allegations made against him.
And Ford? She was a study in contrasts in every way. Though she’s the one who allegedly endured a sexual assault, she didn’t show any bitterness or anger. If anything, she tried to be cooperative (or “collegial” to use her word), in a room full of people out to tear her apart. (The all-male Republican judiciary committee outsourced the questioning to female prosecutor Rachel Mitchell.)
Ford recounted the details of her assault calmly, if a bit nervously. And she didn’t flinch when asked if she was sure if Kavanaugh was her attacker: “One hundred percent,” she answered.
What rang true the most about Ford was her demeanor. Seeing her in person—her awkwardness, her hesitation, her nerdiness—made her real and relatable. She reminds me of one of the “nice” girls in high school and college—some who were a bit shy, a little too eager to please and much too insecure.
Of course, there are holes in Ford’s version of events (like the lack of witnesses), which is why this matter and the two other sexual assault charges against Kavanaugh should be investigated by the FBI.
Will that happen? Who knows? But Ford deserves the FBI investigation that Republicans finally agreed to on Friday—and so do all of us.
Contact Vivia Chen at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @lawcareerist.