Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday afternoon has left the Senate, and the country, even more divided. A hearing that should have been a bipartisan effort to uncover the truth behind Ford's accusations turned into the partisan "circus," Kavanaugh claimed it to be.
And this "circus" became so through the behavior of Kavanaugh and the Republican senators. While the Democratic senators did want to delay Kavanaugh's hearing for political reasons as well as for the allegations by Ford to be fully investigated, they presented their questions professionally and treated both Kavanaugh and Ford with respect. They didn't assume anything when asking questions and they never showed anger, indignation or disgust. In other words, they left their emotions at the door, knowing they needed to keep a calm demeanor in order to investigate Ford's allegation.
Ford, also, understood the need for professionalism and honesty in a high-stakes hearing such as this. During her testimony, she presented as an intelligent, calm and credible witness. She answered all questions to the best of her ability and ceded to memory lapses, common amongst assault survivors. She was polite and gracious with the committee and stirring with the country. Her account of the assault was serious, specific, and believable. The country was moved. Even conservatives acknowledged her credibility.
Kavanaugh came into the room with guns blazing. He wasn't wasting any shots as he fired at the Democratic committee members for creating what he called "a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election...Revenge on behalf of the Clintons." He vehemently, angrily, emotionally denied all allegations. He was a decibel away from shouting during his opening statement, flushed with anger and tearing up at times. He answers to questions from the Democratic senators were terse and aggressive, if not completely dismissive.
While the Republican Judiciary Committee members were silent and polite during Ford's testimony, allowing the female lawyer to do the questioning, their true feelings were revealed at Kavanaugh's hearing. They exploded with anger and resentment, and instead of probing Kavanaugh for the truth, they used their time to soliloquize on the injustice of Kavanaugh's treatment.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) delivered a Trump-like tirade, declaring the hearing to be "the most unethical sham since I have been in politics," and a conspiracy to "destroy this man's life." Sen. Mike Lee (Utah) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) took their time to deliver similar rants. Sen. Hatch repeated Sen. Graham's sentiments, calling the hearings a "circus atmosphere that...brought us the worst in our politics.". Sen. Cornyn said he couldn't think of "a more embarrassing scandal for the United States Senate since the McCarthy Hearings"
The differences in behavior between Kavanaugh and Ford and Republicans and Democrats is extremely telling in a case where truth can't be revealed through tangible evidence. The process of finding answers must always be an objective one. The practice of law has always stood by the idea that emotion and bias will get in the way of discovering truth. The Democratic senators and Dr. Ford presented their questions and answers without emotion or bias. They were serious, calm and cooperative.
As described above, Kavanaugh and the Republican senators were quite the opposite. Their fury and indignation reveal a fear underneath their performances. The blustering, red-faced Kavanaugh repeats himself throughout his questioning, refuses all cooperation in an FBI investigation and dismisses Democrats' attempts to get a full picture of his high school and college lifestyle, questions that would lead to insight into whether Ford's allegations could be credible. In dismissing those probes, he's essentially telling the world he is hiding something.
Being accused of something you didn't realize was criminal activity would warrant an emotional reaction from anyone. His anger and frustration with these allegations is not out of line. To present this anger in a hearing investigating the truth of the allegations is a bad idea if you are innocent. It shows guilt.
The disgust shown by the Republican senators tells America that they don't believe any such allegation should be taken seriously. For them, it's not about believing her, it's about whether or not these actions should have consequences. They don't want to set the precedent that those actions should be punishable decades later because then their own past could come back to hurt them.
It's not about believing Dr. Blasey Ford. It's never been about believing women. It's about whether or not men should be punished for their behavior. And they don't want to be punished.
A lot of people think it's unfair for someone to lose their career over something they did when they were a dumb, immature teenager who didn't know any better. But what is unfair is that they got away with it in the first place.
We believe Dr. Blasey Ford. But more importantly, we stand behind her. We stand behind the belief that all people should be held accountable for their actions, no matter what age, time period, or status. The government needs to set this precedent so survivors can feel safe in a country that promised to protect them.