Either out of desperation, or out of the mistaken belief that the Supreme Court nominee had to convince conservative viewers of his innocence (it’s the Senate GOP moderates who must be won over), Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh shed any hint of judicial temperament on Monday night. He went right to the most partisan outlet, Fox News, which has been likened to “state TV.” He seemed a bit ill at ease in his role as victim during the softball interview. He teared up. He said he wouldn’t be chased out of the confirmation process. In doing so, he debased himself and the highest court.
By going to Fox News before appearing again before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he sank to the level of political partisan. As he claimed his growing list of accusers were . . . were what? — All loons? All partisans? — he made clear that he is not acting like an innocent man nor a judge. An innocent man and one of fine judicial temperament would demand an investigation to clear his name. An innocent man and a man steeped in due process and fair play would denounce reprehensible stunts such as trying to blame a completely innocent person using nothing but an old yearbook and Zillow. Such a man would not make a mawkish plea for sympathy, but rather, insist on a rigorous investigation of the facts.
Democrats will, of course, want to question Kavanaugh carefully on the details of his accusers’ allegations, his drinking habits and his association with a misogynistic fraternity at Yale. They will want to know whether he is telling the truth when he says students at Yale and Georgetown Prep say he didn’t do what he is accused of doing. (At best, some people don’t recall being in his presence.) But they should also bear down on his conduct during the confirmation proceedings with questions such as these:
- Why did you not insist that your entire public record be opened up for review? Wouldn’t that have given Americans greater confidence in your fitness?
- Thinking back once more, are you sure you “don’t recall” emails of a sexual nature from former judge Alex Kozinski? Are you aware other clerks did? Were you not included on an email list? If other clerks recall receiving these emails, why do you suppose you didn’t? You were close to the judge, right? Did you save emails from Kozinski?
- Why have you not offered to take a lie detector test, as Christine Blasey Ford has? Why don’t you want all the accusers and witnesses identified in media reports to be interviewed by the FBI?
- Is the FBI in charge of background checks for Supreme Court nominees? Does the FBI have the expertise and experience in researching the details of nominees’ lives — even events distant in time?
- Is it true that many victims of sexual assault don’t come forward at all, or for decades? Will you condemn and disassociate yourself from Republicans’ remarks challenging your accusers’ credibility because they did not report alleged attacks years ago?
- Is Ed Whelan a friend? Describe his role in your confirmation. Did he or any third party tell you that there was an effort to advance a defense of “mistaken identity”? Will you condemn and disassociate yourself from Whelan’s baseless accusation against a former classmate of yours?
- Many states have done away with statutes of limitations for sex crimes. Why?
- Do you believe Ford was sexually assaulted? Do you believe she would actually forget the identity of her attacker? Is she lying?
- What about Deborah Ramirez? Is she lying? How do you account for reports of students who were discussing the incident by email? Are they all lying?
- You have tried to characterize your drinking as nothing out of the ordinary. How do you explain the replete references to drinking in your high school yearbook? Your Yale roommate says you were an aggressive drunk. Is he lying?
- Why did you go on Fox News rather than first testifying before this committee? Who advised you? Why did you choose Fox? Did Bill Shine advise you as to how to talk and/or gesture? Who said your wife should appear? Did you practice for that interview? Why did you not choose another network? Did you know the questions ahead of time? Did you choose that network because you were confident you wouldn’t be aggressively questioned?
In sum, Democrats should make clear that, in his hunger to sit on the Supreme Court, Kavanaugh has further politicized an already broken confirmation system and has done damage to the court. His indifference to transparency and fact-finding in favor of hardball political theatrics alone should be grounds for rejecting his nomination.