It is with some trepidation that I make today’s statements and observations, but I told you last week I might have something to say about the recent Supreme Court nomination.
And I still strongly believe in civil discourse.
I might offend any number of people and all I can say is it is not my intention. If you read carefully you will see that, while I might have some leanings, I’m still fairly conflicted over it all. With that disclaimer, here goes.
Ever since Ronald Reagan nominated Robert Bork to the high court in 1987, the nominations have become hyper political with each party being equally guilty of making the nominee a pawn in their respective power plays.
Until the Brett Kavanaugh nomination, this was most recently demonstrated when Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland in 2016.
Republican leaders, with straight faces, espoused the outlandish theory, while stalling, that Garland should not be confirmed because it was the final year of President Obama’s final term in office, as if the Constitution made some kind of exception for a president’s duty to nominate a Supreme Court justice under those circumstances.
Their ploy worked, and the nomination expired as Barack Obama’s second term did. But their proverbial chickens would come home to roost.
With the failed Garland nomination, the GOP set itself up for bitter revenge by Democrats who would not forget. While they were unable to find anything on Neil Gorsuch, nominated by President Trump and confirmed by the Senate to succeed Justice Scalia, they hit pay dirt when Christine Blasey Ford came forward with the alleged goods on Kavanaugh.
Even though he was confirmed, the Dems will make political hay of all the drama by portraying themselves as the party that listens to and cares about women.
Senate Judiciary Committee hearing
As I listened to Ford testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee, I believed her. I do not believe she made up the scenario she narrated. But as I listened to Kavanaugh testify, I also believed him.
My opinion – and that’s all it is, of course — is that there is either a case of mistaken identity on her part, or he was so blind drunk he does not remember it. And unless some startling bit of after-the-fact evidence comes to light, we will never know exactly what happened.
I believe Kavanaugh made a tactical error in mouthing off to the Democratic committee members as he began his testimony. While I understand his anger, especially if he is, in fact, innocent of the charges, he would have done better to hold his temper at bay and leave the commentary out of it, other than to stand firm in his innocence.
He obviously realized this later, as shown by the piece he wrote for the Wall Street Journal days later, in which he admitted he said some things he probably should not have said. By then it was too late, as his critics were quick to question his temperament as a judge and some former supporters even changed their minds about him.
The investigation and ultimate outcome
While the FBI investigation was probably a good idea and gave the senators who voted for the nomination more to hang their hats on (with there being no corroborating evidence), the vote along party lines (except for a couple) shows that, for most of them, their minds were made up before the investigation, if not before the hearing.
Bottom line? The Republicans wanted him in. The Democrats, still smarting from Merrick Garland, wanted him out. It did not matter much what was said in the hearing or what the FBI investigation showed. With the Republicans’ narrow Senate majority, they prevailed.
Silly stuff and good lessons
Since the Senate committee members asked Kavanaugh detailed questions about his drinking and other habits in high school and beyond, I wonder if anyone thought of asking Ford why, at age 15, she thought it a good idea to go the party she referenced? A silly line of questioning, I agree, but no sillier than asking Kavanaugh about yearbook and calendar entries from his high school days.
And along those same lines, while Kavanaugh pointed out the legal drinking age at the time was 18, he was clearly drinking earlier than that. As I recall, nobody asked who bought the beer.
This entire ordeal is vindication for parents the world over who have ever given the warning to their children to be careful about the choices they make and the people with whom they associate.
Yes, legions of us did stupid things in our youth we would not want rehashed for all the world to see and hear. (While I don’t anticipate a Supreme Court nomination, in an abundance of caution I am in the process of destroying all my high school memorabilia).
But listen up, young folks, because there is a good lesson here. Christine Blasey Ford (I guess she was just Christine Blasey at the time), at 15 years old, went to a party she had no business going to.
Brett Kavanaugh partied with a vengeance and drank to excess in high school.
If she had not gone to that party, and if he had been more prudent about his behaviors and associations, then 37 years later, maybe . . .
Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.