Empathy, Accuracy, and Credibility

One wished that Ford could at last have named one witness who could corroborate her allegations that the 17-year-old Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her 36 years ago in a place where witnesses were apparently present, or at least produced convincing evidence that the testimonies of those alleged to be at the party who had no memory of her narratives were sorely mistaken.

Ford might have been deemed more credible had she just been able to locate the scene of the alleged assault, or to explain how and why the alleged gender and number of those at the scene of the alleged assault were not reported by her consistently, or to remember how she arrived and left the scene.

The “process” of memorializing Ford’s testimony involved a strange inversion of constitutional norms: The idea of a statute of limitations is ossified; hearsay is legitimate testimony; inexact and contradictory recall is proof of trauma, and therefore of validity; the burden of proof is on the accused, not the accuser; detail and evidence are subordinated to assumed sincerity; proof that one later relates an allegation to another is considered proof that the assault actually occurred in the manner alleged; motive is largely irrelevant; the accuser establishes the guidelines of the state’s investigation of the allegations; and the individual allegation gains credence by cosmic resonance with all other such similar allegations.

Those assumptions played out as extensive examination of minute details of Kavanaugh’s teenage life with little commensurate inquiry into Ford’s. The premise was that victimizer Kavanaugh thought he had an entitlement to be on the Court, rather than the fact that victimized Ford had initiated the entire line of inquiry, whose aim was to establish that a teenage Kavanaugh 36 years ago was a sexual assaulter and foiled rapist, and therefore now unqualified to take Antony Kennedy’s vacant Supreme Court seat. All that meant that the accuser was exempt from providing substantiation at a level required from Kavanaugh. I don’t think the American people have yet evolved to accept such a line of reasoning or quite yet believe that the U.S. Senate is entirely free from the spirit of the Constitution when conducting confirmation hearings and investigations.