However Senate Republicans choreograph the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday at which Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford are set to testify, 11 mute Republican men, too nervous to interrogate a sympathetic witness, will be hiding behind (or alongside) a woman hired for the purpose of making the men look less like bullies. (Watching loquacious Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) try to remain mute while someone else does their job should prove interesting.) Understand that the male GOP senators are stacking the deck — by depriving the accuser of the opportunity to bring in witnesses, scheduling a vote the very next morning and limiting the questions to one round (!) — because they need to give themselves every advantage they can get.
Still, the stage is Ford’s. She is the star. The camera is on her. She can talk as long as she wants and say anything she wants — what, will commitee chairman Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) interrupt and gavel her out of order? Democrats can only pray for such stupidity.
She should feel free to make an opening statement, even if it means taking over the time allotted for the first question and answer. She can respond directly to the hired gun’s queries or slide by them, as Kavanaugh did so often in the confirmation hearing. She can tell the country how the attack transformed her life, how the memory is seared into her mind and the price she has paid, first for living with a terrible secret and now for coming forward. She can describe to Americans what it feels like to be called part of a “con” by the president or to be told by Graham and others that she’s got nothing they care to investigate. She can rightly describe that treatment as another assault on her, another attempt to dehumanize her.
Furthermore, she can explain the difference between letting someone talk and actually listening. The latter requires one to pay attention and act on what is said. She can explain how important it is to survivors of sex crimes to be listened to and to have their credible, detailed accounts acknowledged as something other than a scam or figment of a hysterical mind.
She also can tell the American people (for they — not the senators — are the real audience) the list of people who should be interviewed (e.g. Mark Judge) and what sort of other evidence could corroborate her story.
She should repeat as many times as she likes, “I am willing to sit down with the FBI. I just want the judge to do the same.” She can express how disappointed she is in his refusal to do this, given his concern for “fairness” and all. Kavanaugh played the victim ineffectively in his Fox News interview, insisting that all he wants is fairness. Ford can certainly mention that no process, civil or criminal, would intentionally disregard evidence. What could be more unfair than to say it’s a “he said/she said” case and then refuse to find all of other he’s and she’s? If you are hiring someone for a big job, would you make a decision to deliberately ignore references?
Ford can provide whatever evidence at her disposal — and list whatever witnesses she can think of, who could amplify his drinking and conduct while drinking. Because he claims not to know her, she also can describe whatever encounters they might have had before or after the incident.
She can point out that the issue of how much Kavanaugh drank and how he behaved when drunk is critical to the fact-finding. Kavanaugh painted himself in the Fox News appearance as an innocent in high school, chaste and un-involved in the debauchery and alcohol-infused culture his classmates recall. In his written testimony he goes further and concedes drinking at times too much. This is just the sort of issue the FBI is eminently qualified to untangle.
With a third accuser, Ford can show support for Julie Swetnick. The Post reports:
In a declaration, Julie Swetnick, who attended Gaithersburg High School, said she observed Kavanaugh drinking excessively at house parties and engaging “in abusive and physically aggressive behavior toward girls.”
Swetnick said she witnessed efforts by Kavanaugh and others to get girls inebriated so they could be “gang raped” in side rooms at house parties by a “train” of numerous boys.
“I have a firm recollection of seeing boys lined up outside rooms at many of these parties waiting for their ‘turn’ with a girl inside the room. These boys included Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh.”
Kavanaugh says this is out of “The Twilight Zone” and denies this allegation, as he has every sexual misconduct claim by the three women to step forward. Ford can make clear that Swetnick deserves to be heard and have her allegations investigated.
She will also have the chance to support Deborah Ramirez and urge the senators to listen to her as well. She could point out that being open-minded and fair means demanding answers, as three Yale alumni who endorsed Kavanaugh did, when they learned of her allegations and demanded an investigation. (Maybe one of them should be on the court instead.)
Whatever is asked, Ford will have the chance to tell her story and thereby provide confidence and support to millions of survivors. She should make the most of it. Let the male Republicans stew in silence if that is their preference. At least they won’t be interrupting her.