Kavanaugh confirmation rolls along

“It’s a very scary time for young men in America,” the president of the United States said this week.

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Opinion

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 04/10/2018 (1575 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

“It’s a very scary time for young men in America,” the president of the United States said this week.

He could have left out the “for young men” part.

Donald Trump’s statement on Monday was, of course, related to the controversy that has enveloped U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in the wake of multiple allegations of sexual assault dating back to his high school and college years.

Christine Blasey Ford is sworn in to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Sept. 27. (Saul Loeb / Pool / Associated Press files)

The most prominent of the accusers is Christine Blasey Ford, a university professor who says she was assaulted by Mr. Kavanaugh at a high school party when she was 15 and he was 17. Both of them appeared last week during a highly charged session of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Ms. Ford’s emotional testimony, in which she declared she is “100 per cent” certain it was Mr. Kavanaugh who assaulted her, was judged by most observers to be credible, while Mr. Kavanaugh’s fiery denials were immediately received as passionate and convincing, despite several inconsistencies and deflections that were pointed out in post-hearing analyses.

Only one of them can be telling the truth.

The session ended with no one on either side of the partisan divide having been swayed. The next day, however, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake was sufficiently shaken by an elevator encounter with two abuse survivors that he declared he could not vote in favour of confirmation until the Senate took a “pause” to allow the FBI to further investigate the allegations.

One week was allowed for the investigation. After only a few days, however, it became clear that — despite claims to the contrary by Mr. Trump — the White House had placed severe restrictions on what the FBI could investigate and who it could interview. As of late Wednesday, neither Mr. Kavanaugh nor Ms. Ford had been questioned; also not interviewed by the FBI were the nominee’s second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, or the 20 people she says may be able to corroborate her claim, or a third accuser who claims to have witnessed multiple assaults at parties Mr. Kavanaugh attended, or any of the former schoolmates of Mr. Kavanaugh who came forward after his testimony to say he had been untruthful about his drinking habits and behaviour as a student.

The FBI report, such as it is, was delivered to the Senate committee Thursday morning; final votes on the Kavanaugh confirmation are expected by as early as this weekend.

President Donald Trump mocks Christine Blasey Ford. (Rogelio V. Solis / Associated Press files)

Despite serious and credible allegations against an individual seeking a lifetime appointment to the United States’ highest court, it seems the thing the White House and Senate Republicans are taking most seriously is their determined effort to get Mr. Kavanaugh confirmed before the U.S. midterm elections.

The Republican attitude toward Ms. Ford’s complaint — and, perhaps, toward the trauma of sexual-abuse survivors and the #MeToo movement in general — is perhaps best summed up by Mr. Trump’s recent antics. After referring last week to Ms. Ford’s testimony as “credible” and “compelling,” the president uttered his ill-advised but elucidating comment about tough times for young American men, and followed up Tuesday at a rally in Mississippi, where he openly mocked Ms. Ford, to the expected raucous cheers from placard-waving (including “Women for Trump”) supporters.

“Vicious, vile and soulless” is how Ms. Ford’s attorney summed up the attack, adding this assessment of Mr. Trump: “He is a profile in cowardice.”

A scary time in America, indeed. But not, it seems, for hard-partying privileged white frat boys who grow up to be Supreme Court nominees.

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