First things first. Brett Kavanaugh deserves the same assumption of innocence as any other American, this is only right and fair. The fact that someone has laid a charge of sexual assault on him does not mean that he's automatically guilty. By the same token, he should not be deprived of his rightful seat on the Supreme Court simply on the basis of one accusation. The Senate should not seek retribution, it should seek justice.
One thing has substantially changed over the past forty-eight hours, however. Whereas once, the accuser was some nameless, faceless entity pointing an accusing finger at an ostensibly honorable man, now that accuser has come forward and has indicated that she would be willing to testify in public before the Senate Judiciary Committee. She has presented a fairly credible story. Unfortunately, she can provide no corroboration for her spectacular charges against Judge Kavanaugh. And thus we are presented with the classic he said/she said dilemma. Specifically, who are we to believe?
All things considered, there are aspects of Dr. Ford's story that are at least plausible. It is not beyond the realm of the possible to envision two male high school students at a party. They're stumbling drunk. They encounter a vulnerable woman who is unescorted. In a drunken stupor and not entirely in control of themselves, these two boys decide to take advantage of the situation and at least one of them sets about groping and pawing her. This sexual misconduct did not go as far as rape, but sexual assault is bad enough. The question before the house is whether or not a simply plausible story is enough to bar Brett Kavanaugh from a seat on the Supreme Court.
Clearly in times past, Dr. Ford's story would have been dismissed out of hand. She has no witnesses and therefore no corroboration. The first time she mentioned this incident to anyone was six years ago during a marriage counseling session, some thirty years after the alleged assault took place. It might be reasonable to suppose that her memory of this incident might be a bit hazy. Worse yet, she makes her accusations at the last possible moment, just in time to derail Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation by enveloping him in a sexual trap. This scenario does not inspire confidence.
On the other hand, as a result of the #Me Too movement we have discovered that allegations of sexual misconduct should not be dismissed lightly. We have learned, to our regret, that some men are fully capable of doing truly heinous things. For all we know, Judge Kavanaugh may be one of those men. Just because Christine Blasey Ford is not a notable celebrity or a wealthy socialite does NOT mean that she's necessarily lying. She should be given the same presumption of innocence to which Brett Kavanaugh is entitled.
So where do we go from here? One alternative for Committee Chairman Grassley is to try to sweep the whole thing under the rug, completely ignore Dr. Ford's accusations, and hold the committee vote on Thursday as scheduled. Of course, this would be terribly one-sided and completely unfair to Dr. Ford. On the other hand, it would take Brett Kavanaugh one step closer to a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. Under the circumstances, however, it would appear that on open hearing where these charges can be examined before the court of public opinion is called for. This would significantly delay the final vote on Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation. But it would avoid the possibility that Senate Republicans could be accused of writing another chapter in the Republican War on Women. With mid-term elections only seven weeks away and with Republicans already twenty points down among women in congressional polling, this may prove to be the most prudent course of action.
Ultimately, the real point is that we get to the truth, whatever that may be. In the end, the goal of this confrontation is to arrive at justice for both sides. Giving each side of this controversy the opportunity to speak out in public in an open hearing is something Chairman Grassley should consider. In conclusion Republicans should heed the sage advice of a paraphrase of this old saying: "Confirm in haste, repent at leisure!".
Filed under: Politics