ON CREDIBILITY

I am a lawyer.  I have been trying cases for over forty years.  I cannot count the number of witnesses that I have prepared.  I tell each of them that their testimony is far more about credibility than it is about information.  So, I tell the witness, the best thing you can do to preserve your credibility is to give a direct answer to a direct question.  There are, I tell the witness, two things that a witness does that ruins his or her credibility.  The first is to not answer the question but to go on and on in some other direction.  The second, which is, aside from lying is the worst thing a witness can possibly do, is to argue.  Why?  Because it communicate to the listener that the witness doesn’t believe that a straight answer is not enough.  Nothing makes a witness look like a liar more than the witness arguing.

I listened to the testimony of Dr. Ford and of Judge Kavanaugh on the radio.  Later I saw bits of the testimony on television.  With one exception, in my entire experience I have never heard a worse witness than Kavanaugh.  He consistently did both of the things that indicate a lack of credibility.  He never answered a direct question with a direct answer.  Never.  Worse, he didn’t just argue.  He snarled.  He yelled.  He ridiculed.

Here is my single observation.  Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony was so bad that I find myself unable to believe a word he said.  He was evasive beyond virtually every witness I have ever had.  He was argumentative in the extreme.  By the time he got around to a substantive answer, it did not answer the question asked, and it sounded totally rehearsed.  He was, in sum, patently incredible.

I do not know what he did as a high schooler or college student.  No one ever will except those who were there.  What I do know is that we are putting on the Supreme Court a person who is dishonest and a person who has demonstrated himself absolutely incapable of being the impartial jurist that we so desperately need on the court.  The majority will likely succeed in putting him on the court, but in doing so they will risk doing more damage to our tripartite democratic government than anyone, including Trump, has ever done.

Someone once observed that the genius of the founding fathers was to create a system which, in the hands of the competent, is excellent, and in the hands of the incompetent, is adequate.  People like Trump and Kavanaugh are putting that observation to the most severe of tests.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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