As a young man I once got drunk and, during horseplay with friends that involved hurling piles of bagged street garbage at one another, slammed my face into a parking meter. When I awoke the next morning, my swollen, deep-purple left eye frightened my mother. I cannot be sure how old I was when this happened — I may have been over 18 — but I know I was basically an embryonic version of an adult, and I know I was not a choirboy.
We often remember such episodes in great detail, even if they took place decades ago. I still remember which particular rooftop I deposited my bodily waste upon. I still remember my mother’s stricken expression when she saw my mauled eye. I still remember my precise feelings at that moment — I was startled by just how anxiety-racked she appeared, and this made me feel sorry for her, but, like a dopey kid, I hoped she’d think it was kind of cool that I had done “bad” things, and that I was taking my injury like a “man.”
I still remember exactly which stoop on the streets of New York City I sat on with a friend as we drank beer together. I still remember the brand — Ballantine Ale. And the bottle size — 40-ouncers. And what we called them: “forties.”
Our memories play tricks on us about all kinds of things, but through the haze and the intervening years, certain episodes and the details about them remain with us — because they form an important part of who we are.
I would not lie about these episodes. On the other hand, I am not in the running for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.
Numerous classmates of Kavanaugh have come forward and told The Post that Kavanaugh badly misrepresented his teenage years when he presented himself on Fox News as a young saintly figure who was mostly focused on doing good. “Brett was a sloppy drunk, and I know because I drank with him,” one friend said. “He’d end up slurring his words, stumbling.”
Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of attempting to rape her when they were teenagers in the 1980s, also used the word “stumbling” when she described Kavanaugh and his alleged accomplice Mark Judge’s drunkenness at the time.
On Fox News, Kavanaugh allowed he went to parties, but where “seniors were legal and had beer there.” He claimed he “never” experienced memory blackouts from drinking. But the friend of his who spoke to The Post questioned this point. “It’s not credible for him to say that he has had no memory lapses in the nights that he drank to excess,” she said. One of Kavanaugh’s roommates recalled him being “frequently, incoherently drunk.”
A broader misrepresentation
But the misrepresentation is broader than this, according to these contemporaries. Kavanaugh also told Fox that at his “all boys Catholic school,” he was “focused on academics and athletics” and on “going to church every Sunday” and on “working on my service projects” and on “friendship.” He claimed he never had sex for “many years” after high school. When Kavanaugh said these things, you could practically see his halo glint.
But one fellow classmate in Kavanaugh’s freshman year has now asserted that Kavanaugh himself contradicted his claim to virginity. He claims to remember exactly where this conversation happened: “in Lawrance Hall at Yale, in the living room of my suite.”
Kavanaugh claimed on Fox that he has always treated women with “dignity and respect.” But this is belied by his high school hazing of a woman who pronounced his conduct “horrible” and “hurtful.”
In fairness, it should be noted that Kavanaugh has legions of defenders, some of whom flatly dismissed these claims about his drinking, as well. But the overall picture he presented on Fox just seems highly implausible.
“He’s trying to paint himself as some kind of choir boy,” a Republican woman who recalled encountering a drunken Kavanaugh at a fraternity event told The Post. “You can’t lie your way onto the Supreme Court, and with that statement out, he’s gone too far. It’s about the integrity of that institution.”
John Harwood documents a broader pattern still to Kavanaugh’s misrepresentations and evasions, including on his views of Roe v. Wade and on whether he knew he was trafficking in stolen documents as a partisan hatchetman in past confirmation fights. “The judge’s self-description strains credulity in multiple ways,” Harwood concludes, which “has deepened questions about his present-day credibility — a bedrock requirement for the lifetime job he now seeks.”
The ugliness of casual lying
The question of just how deep Kavanaugh’s misrepresentations run will probably remain inconclusive and mostly confined to the realm of he-said/she-said. But as Lili Loofbourow persuasively argues, the preponderance of the evidence does lean toward a decent amount of falsification, particularly since he is “doubling down on an unsustainable and untrue account of himself” as “all innocence,” which he did not have to do.
Never mind, for now, the bigger matters that Kavanaugh stands accused of misrepresenting and falsifying. This sort of casual lying about trivial things that one should own up to belongs in its own category of reprehensibleness. It betrays a special order of contempt for one’s listeners to feed them obvious crap about matters that most ordinary people would forgive, if only the speaker copped to them.
My guess is that Kavanaugh panicked. All that grooming for this position — Georgetown Prep, Yale, the Federalist Society gatherings and schmoozing, all the slimy, sordid partisan committee grunt work against Democrats, and, in fairness, all the grinding study and hard work — flashed before his eyes.
I don’t know if the content of these seeming misrepresentations about Kavanaugh’s drunkenness and frat-goon treatment of women should be disqualifying. I tend to doubt it. I do think this apparent willingness to casually engage in such trivial dishonesty — about who he once was and where he came from — amounts to an ugly mark on his character that says a lot about who he is now. And that is something one might add to the case against him.