WHITE HOUSE counselor Kellyanne Conway initially insisted — it seems like months ago now, but it was only Sept. 17 — that Christine Blasey Ford “should not be insulted, and she should not be ignored.” President Trump himself said last week that Ms. Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which she accused Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her, was “very compelling.”
Now, Mr. Trump apparently sees more political upside in belittling and insulting her. At a rally Tuesday, the president mocked Ms. Ford’s answers to the Judiciary Committee questions. “ ‘I don’t know. I don’t know.’ ‘Upstairs? Downstairs? Where was it?’ ‘I don’t know. But I had one beer. That’s the only thing I remember,’ ” the president said.
No, that is not the only thing Ms. Ford remembers. In her testimony she described vividly the room where the alleged assault occurred, that she was pushed from behind, that while Mr. Kavanaugh allegedly groped her, attempted to remove her clothes and put his hand over her mouth so she could not scream, she made plaintive eye contact with Mark Judge, the other boy she said was in the room. She described the boys’ laughter seared into her memory. Experts say the details Ms. Ford recalls are the sorts that sexual assault victims tend to remember and that the circumstances she does not recall are also typical for survivors of such attacks.
If you think the Democrats mishandled Ms. Ford’s allegations, fine. If you think Mr. Kavanaugh’s high school behavior is less relevant than his adult record, fine again. But a decent human being could hold those thoughts and make those arguments without besmirching Ms. Ford, and without casting doubt more generally on the memories and accounts of assault survivors.
It is a fact that false accusations are exceedingly rare, and no wonder: Who would choose lightly to expose herself to the vile sort of mockery that Mr. Trump is now deploying? Ms. Ford, we should recall, raised concerns about Mr. Kavanaugh before he was tapped, in the hopes that Mr. Trump might pick someone else equally qualified to sit on the Supreme Court. She offered to take a lie-detector test, something that cannot be said of Mr. Kavanaugh. She welcomed an FBI inquiry, again in contrast to the judge.
Mr. Kavanaugh fanned Mr. Trump’s insidious line of attack when he charged last Thursday that “this whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election” and an act of “revenge on behalf of the Clintons.” Whether Mr. Kavanaugh really believes this story or just said it to impress Mr. Trump, it was an unfounded smear. He, too, had an alternative; he could have proclaimed his innocence without resorting to such false accusations.
The judge’s conspiracy-mongering and Mr. Trump’s mockery both serve to set back the nation’s progress in understanding this kind of crime and will discourage victims from coming forward. Maybe Mr. Trump sees that as a plus. It certainly reveals more to the nation about his character than about Ms. Ford’s.