From “The Waking Up Podcast” Episode 139
Judge Kavanaugh, I don’t know what happened in 1982. But I’m deeply troubled by what I perceive as your lack of integrity last week. You told the Senate Judiciary Committee under oath that your “have you boofed” yearbook question referred to farting, that “devil’s triangle” was a drinking game, that a “Renate alumnius” was simply a friend of Renate with no sexual insinuations, that the drinking age was 18.
Really? As James Comey tweeted: “small lies matter, even about yearbooks.” No one sensible is going to hold teenage drinking against you, but we are bothered when you mislead senators and the public today and deny what is obvious: As you put it in 1983, “we’re loud, obnoxious drunks.”
.. What can we call these but lies? And they come on top of deeply misleading testimony about your knowledge of stolen documents when you were in the Bush White House and your involvement in judicial nominations then.
.. 2. Do you have empathy for those who aren’t so blessed as yourself?
An air of entitlement hangs over both your testimony
.. Where the Supreme Court has made its worst mistakes, the problems have arisen often not from a lack of intelligence but from a failure of empathy.
- In Dred Scott and Plessy, justices did not appreciate what it meant to be black in America;
- in Korematsu, what it meant to be a Japanese-American facing internment;
- in Buck v. Bell, what it meant to be a marginalized woman;
- in Lochner, what it meant to be a laborer;
- in Bowers v. Hardwick, what it meant to be gay.
If you had been on the court, Judge Kavanaugh, in 1873 for Bradwell v. Illinois, which upheld the State of Illinois’s decision to deny a woman a license to practice law based on her gender, your opinion no doubt would have been well reasoned — but would it have been just?The American Bar Association’s Model Code of Judicial Conduct states, “A judge shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.” Sneering at senators, even when feeling provoked, does not fit that code.
.. I’ve learned from my criminal justice reporting that witnesses err surprisingly often. You have earned a reputation as a first-rate conservative judge, and I thought it possible that there was some mistake and that you had been terribly wronged. But ultimately what perhaps damaged you most was not the unproven allegations of assaults decades ago, but your own lies and partisanship just last week.
.. President Trump has mocked Dr. Blasey, and Republican senators have released an explicit sexual statement to shame Julie Swetnick, another woman whom they have not bothered to listen to. So it appears that your side’s strategy is not to dispel the suspicion but rather to humiliate the accusers — violating them in a display of power and entitlement that is an echo of what they say took place so many years ago.
If that’s the path you choose, you should not sit on the Supreme Court.
The elite learn early that they’re special — and that they won’t face consequences.Brett Kavanaugh is not telling the whole truth. When President George W. Bush nominated him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2006, he told senators that he’d had nothing to do with the war on terror’s detention policies; that was not true.Kavanaugh also claimed under oath, that year and again this month, that he didn’t know that Democratic Party memos a GOP staffer showed him in 2003 were illegally obtained; his emails from that period reveal that these statements were probably false.
And it cannot be possible that the Supreme Court nominee was both a well-behaved virgin who never lost control as a young man, as he toldFox News and the Senate Judiciary Committee this past week, and an often-drunk member of the “Keg City Club” and a “Renate Alumnius ,” as he seems to have bragged to many people and written into his high school yearbook. Then there are the sexual misconduct allegations against him, which he denies.
.. How could a man who appears to value honor and the integrity of the legal system explain this apparent mendacity? How could a man brought up in some of our nation’s most storied institutions — Georgetown Prep, Yale College, Yale Law School — dissemble with such ease? The answer lies in the privilege such institutions instill in their members, a privilege that suggests the rules that govern American society are for the common man, not the exceptional one.
.. What makes these schools elite is that so few can attend. In the mythologies they construct, only those who are truly exceptional are admitted — precisely because they are not like everyone else. Yale President Peter Salovey, for instance, has welcomed freshmen by telling them that they are “the very best students.” To attend these schools is to be told constantly: You’re special, you’re a member of the elect, you have been chosen because of your outstanding qualities and accomplishments.
.. Schools often quite openly affirm the idea that, because you are better, you are not governed by the same dynamics as everyone else. They celebrate their astonishingly low acceptance rates and broadcast lists of notable alumni who have earned their places within the nation’s highest institutions, such as the Supreme Court. Iheard these messages constantly when I attended St. Paul’s, one of the most exclusive New England boarding schools, where boys and girls broke rules with impunity, knowing that the school would protect them from the police and that their families would help ensure only the most trivial of consequences... elites’ sense of their own exceptionalism helps instill within them a tendency to be less compassionate... Take drug use. While the poor are no more likely to use drugs (in fact, among young people, it’s the richer kids who are more likely to drink alcohol or smoke marijuana), they are far more likely to be imprisoned for it.. Kavanaugh’s privilege runs deep, and it shows. He grew up in a wealthy Washington suburb where his father spent three decades as CEO of a trade association. There has been a sense among his supporters that his place is deserved, which mirrors the climate of aristocratic inheritance he grew up around. His peers from the party of personal responsibility have largely rallied around him, seeking to protect his privilege... Ari Fleischer, put it: “How much in society should any of us be held liable today when we lived a good life, an upstanding life by all accounts, and then something that maybe is an arguable issue took place in high school? Should that deny us chances later in life?”American Conservative editor Rod Dreher wondered “why the loutish drunken behavior of a 17 year old high school boy has anything to tell us about the character of a 53 year old judge.”.. This collective agreement that accountability doesn’t apply to Kavanaugh (and, by extension, anybody in a similar position who was a youthful delinquent) may help explain why he seems to believe he can lie with impunity — a trend he continued Thursday, when he informed senators that he hadn’t seen the testimony of his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, even though a committee aide told the Wall Street Journal he’d been watching... servant leadership and privilege are often bedfellows. Both suggest not a commonality with the ordinary American, but instead a standing above Everyman. Both justify locating power within a small elite because this elite is better equipped to lead... Retired justice Anthony Kennedy, according to some reports, hand-picked Kavanaugh as his successor.. both allow space for lying in service of the greater good. Privilege means that things like perjury aren’t wrong under one’s own private law.
Kavanaugh’s many lies about small questions mean he’s probably lying about the big question
I think Brett Kavanaugh is probably lying about having sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford, and many other things, and has decided from the beginning to say what he has to in order to fulfill his career ambition. There is, however, at least some, small chance that he is telling the truth when he professes his innocence. And that small chance gives me some sympathetic human reaction to his emotional testimonial. If he is somehow innocent, as he claims, he has been subject to a horrifying and humiliating ordeal.
That, however, does not justify confirming Kavanaugh to a lifelong position on the Supreme Court. He has, for one thing, all but abandoned the posture of impartiality demanded of a judge. A ranting Kavanaugh launched angry, evidence-free charges against Senate Democrats. “The behavior of several of the Democratic members of this committee at my hearing a few weeks ago was an embarrassment. But at least it was just a good old-fashioned attempt at Borking,” he said, using a partisan term invented by Republicans to complain about ideological scrutiny of an extreme judicial nominee. “This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled by pent-up anger over President Trump in the 2016 election.”
Why they took this revenge against Kavanaugh, rather than the first justice who was appointed after the 2016 elections, when Democrats’ anger over both the election and the treatment of Merrick Garland ran hotter, he did not say. Kavanaugh does not seem able to imagine even the possibility that Democrats actually believe the women accusing him of sexual assault. He is consumed with paranoid, partisan rage.
.. The method Republicans have used to defend Kavanaugh has consisted of suppressing most of the evidence that could be brought to bear in the hearing, and then complaining about the lack of evidence.
The FBI could investigate the charges — which might not settle the question, but would at least advance the inquiry, and use the threat of perjury to force any witnesses to give straight answers. The Senate could subpoena Kavanaugh’s friend, Mark Judge, an eyewitness to the alleged attack on Ford, and compel him to testify. They have refused repeated pleas to do either..
.. Kavanaugh himself has dodged and weaved on this. In a Fox News interview, he changed the subject when asked about an FBI investigation. He tried to deflect when asked by Senate Democrats, saying he would do whatever the committee wants (knowing full well they do not want the FBI to investigate.) When asked what he wants, Kavanaugh responded with several seconds of damning silence.
.. Kavanaugh deserves due process. So does Christine Blasey Ford. Only one of those people is standing in the way of it.
.. Why do I believe Kavanaugh is lying? The charges are credible, and his accusers are willing to put themselves at risk, with no apparent gain to bring them to the public. Kavanaugh has said too many things that strain credulity for all them to be plausibly true.
- He almost certainly lied about having had access to files stolen by Senate Republicans back when he was handling judicial nominations in the Bush administration.
- .. His explanation that the “Renate Alumni” was not a sexual reference is difficult to square with a fellow Renate Alumnus’s poem ( “You need a date / and it’s getting late / so don’t hesitate / to call Renate”) portraying her as a cheap date.
- .. His insistence “boof” and “devil’s triangle” from his yearbook were references to flatulence and a drinking game drew incredulous responses from people his age who have heard these terms.
His claim that the “Beach Week Ralph Club” was a reference to a weak stomach seems highly unlikely.
.. The accretion of curious details ultimately overwhelms the small possibility that he is a man wronged. The conviction he summoned is the righteous belief of an adult who feels he should not be denied the career reward due to him by the errors of his youth, and who decided from the outset to close the door to that period in his life. Perhaps he believes he has made amends for his cruelty. I see a liar who has the chance to prove his good faith innocence, and has conspicuously refused.