The case of Brett Kavanaugh is not the first time the country has been faced with the question of conduct disqualifying a potential appointee.  Clarence Thomas, of course, but many others.  The hard question is what to do with, for or to Mr. Kavanaugh.  I here offer the thoughts of an old white male.

First, the charge being leveled against Kavanaugh by his first accuser is very serious, so serious that, had he been found guilty of it at the time, he would, just about now, be getting out of prison.  Second, assuming arguendo that he did what he is accused of, the reason he was not charged with the crime, and the reason why his victim did not report the crime, was because, back in the 80’s, every woman in America knew that if she reported the crime she would be the one treated as a defendant.  “Wearing a skirt, were you?  OHHHHHH, A SWIMMING SUIT!  AT A DRINKING PARTY!  WELL DON’T WE KNOW WHAT YOU WERE LOOKING FOR!”

So, third, I would not be surprised if he did it, and I am not surprised that she didn’t report it.  The question, then, is:  should her report have any effect on his appointment to the court?  I have a slightly off-key opinion.  It is not the incident that should drive our response.  It is, rather, Kavanaugh’s reaction that should matter.

Imagine the following.  On hearing of the accusation, Kavanaugh calls a press conference and says, “I have no recollection of the events described by Professor Ford.  I did drink at under-age parties while in high school, and I may have drunk so much that I did this awful thing and I was so drunk that I can’t remember it.  If, therefore, I did it, then this is the first I have heard of it, and I am profoundly sorry for having caused Professor Ford so much grief.  I have lived my entire adulthood trying to respect the rights of others, and I can assure you that I have the deepest respect for the rights of others and particularly the rights of all women to be free from sexual harassment, sexual discrimination, and most of all sexual assault of any kind.”

Imagine, I say, that Kavanaugh had said something like this.  I would imagine that all but the extreme would have said that he was appropriately contrite if in fact he did such things, and that he should, therefore, be allowed a vote on his ascension to the Supreme Court.

Here is the problem.  He didn’t say that.  Instead, he said that it never happened.  He categorically denied that he was at the party (a problem since no one can identify exactly what party we’re talking about), that he had never engaged in such conduct, etc.  His handlers, while assuring the public that no such thing ever happened, refuse to allow any kind of investigation into the alleged events.  They refuse even to allow the alleged witness to the events to testify, despite the fact that that witness seems to confirm that it never happened.

So I think Mr. Kavanaugh stands on shaky ground,  shaky largely in part because of his own conduct.  That being so, the obvious solution is for Mr. Kavanaugh to announce that he is withdrawing his name from consideration for the appointment.  Why?  In the interest of justice.  To save this country from yet another tortuous conflict.  To remove from the Supreme Court even the appearance of a shadow on one of its members (like the shadow that has hung over Clarence Thomas for all his time on the court).  To save his family further anguish and embarrassment.  Et cetera, et cetera.

There is, or at least should be, no room on our Supreme Court for politics.  By withdrawing his name, Kavanaugh will at least be making a step toward reducing what odor of politics there is.  As painful as it would no doubt be for him, it is the only decent thing to do.














  1. You’re right again.  Why isn’t this essay printed as a letter in the NY Times? Phil

    Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

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