The Kavanaugh calamity rears its head again one year after the Trump-appointed Supreme Court Justice was sworn in. Thanks to the persistent, deep-diving journalistic efforts and (now) authors of The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation, Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly shed much needed light on the details of accusations waged against Kavanaugh as well as the woefully inadequate FBI investigation that ensued immediately before his confirmation.
Last year around this time, many of us were busy demonstrating our enduring support and deep appreciation for the resolute courage of the accuser who found herself caught squarely in the spotlight, Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford. Neve and I dressed in black the day she was compelled to testify before Congress.
Following Dr. Blasey-Ford’s testimony, I wrote this account to memorialize the historical moment in a note to Neve:
“It was a scarce Friday night in our house when your father didn’t have a gig and we could embrace a long, leisure evening at home. Earlier in the week, I promised you could have a sleepover, and Dad and I invited the parents of your friends to join us for snacks and beverages when they dropped their girls off. The whole nation, and world at large, was gripped by the political chaos du jour, which had become customary under the predictably unpredictable Trump Administration. This week was especially jarring for me and for many, many women across the globe. The day before, we had watched, in live time, Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford present wrenching testimony of the sexual assault she suffered in her teens at the hands of a man, Brett Kavanaugh, who was nominated by Donald Trump to fill the vacancy left by Justice Anthony Kennedy on the US Supreme Court. She was real, raw, articulate, and authentic. She recalled heart-breaking, vivid moments of being pushed and held down. She remembered trying to scream for help and Kavanaugh covering her mouth to quiet her. She remembered knowing he wanted to rape her and fearing he might accidentally kill her in the process as she struggled for breath under the weight of his drunken hand held against her face. She remembered uproarious laughter emanating from her attacker and another high school guy who entered the room. It was only after this second guy jumped on Kavanaugh that Blasey-Ford was able to escape from the room. She did not share this experience with anyone immediately and the incident was not reported to police. In fact, she suppressed the horror she endured in silence and isolation for many years. According to her testimony, it was not until a therapy session in 2012 that she revealed the details, and it was not until the perpetrator of this crime was nominated for the most prestigious legal seat in the land that the story became public.
I was simultaneously emotionally exhausted and deeply inspired by Dr. Blasey-Ford’s story. She is a hero, and I remain convinced her truth must prevail for justice to be served.
Even before the enraged rebuttal, cloaked in privilege, dripping with entitlement, and seething for power (regardless of the casualties in its path), offered by Brett Kavanaugh, I was certain that Mr. Kavanaugh is and has long been ill-suited to occupy a seat on the High Court.”
A week later I updated this letter with the additional narrative:
“I have consumed more news from various outlets – NPR, Democracy Now, CNN, NY Times, NBC, etc. – over the last several days than I have since Donald Trump’s election nearly two years ago. Like the last time I felt addicted to the perpetual high hopes followed by deep disappointments, I am gripped by a fiery sense of shock and rage. This same sentiment of rage was on full display by two women who confronted Arizona Senator Jeff Flake over his willingness to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court despite the mounting sexual misconduct allegations against him. These women employed their passions, voices, and personal experience with strength, grace, and determination as they challenged Mr. Flake, demanding that he consider the message he is sending to all survivors of sexual abuse and violence by dismissing the claims brought forward by these women from Mr. Kavanaugh’s past. After an emotional, tearful plea recorded in an elevator car, Mr. Flake relented. He agreed to only move forward with approval for Judge Kavanaugh on the condition that an FBI investigation would be conducted into “current, credible” allegations against the Judge. In an astonishingly unexpected turn of events, the Senate Judiciary committee agreed to this stipulation and delayed their committee vote on the nominee.
The elation of this news was palpable. My heart was filled with renewed hope and joy and a profound sense of satisfaction seeing a glimmer of success of democracy in motion. My stomach churned with nervous excitement and a chill came over my skin. Relief. Deep seeded relief overtook my fear and disappointment as I witnessed our leadership embrace a common sense approach in agreement to slow down, gather facts, and make an informed decision on the nominee.
Fast forward five days and I was forced (yet again) to realize that having lived my entire life in urban and suburban areas between the San Francisco Bay Area and Portland, Oregon, I see the world clouded through a liberal lens. My relief was informed more by my progressive worldview and the meaning I ascribed to an FBI investigation and not by the true intent of the Senators making the crucial decision that will impact American jurisprudence indefinitely. These so called leaders acquiesced to an investigation not to bring truth and transparency to the process, but to provide sufficient cover with their constituents come the next election cycle. After all, these elected officials prove repeatedly that their primary objective is job security, which guarantees disprportionate power and influence, an endless stream of money, and comforts in life’s most lavish luxuries. On the eve of another white, privileged, American man advancing in his career at the expense of justice, righteousness, and the greater universal good, I headed to the kitchen with beer in hand and cooked.”
Weeks later, the Kavanaugh confirmation was final and there was perhaps nothing left to do except to show Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford that our gratitude and solidarity are undying, so I crafted thank you cards for friends and neighbors to write and send.
A year on, I believe with increasing vehemence that Mr. Kavanaugh’s confirmation should have been precluded by his repeated display of egregious sexual misconduct toward young women. It troubles and pains me deeply that one can escape the deserved consequences of their reckless behavior because they are born male, white, wealthy, straight, and Christian and they’re willing to capitalize on every bit of that American-ascribed privilege.