Column: The GOP’s Slander, Misogyny and Suffocating Hypocrisy

  • U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh is surrounded by photographers as he stands with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) during Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Bourg/Pool Reuters/Jim Bourg/Pool

For the Valley News
Published: 9/22/2018 10:29:53 PM
Modified: 9/22/2018 10:30:15 PM

I know Brett Kavanaugh. Well, not the actual Brett Kavanaugh, but I spent my high school years on the periphery of his world. As a college philosopher’s child I had the privilege of being male and white, but was neither wealthy nor ensconced in private schools and clubs. I watched “Bretts” with curiosity and, for a short time, envy.

This early experience adds to my near certainty that Christine Blasey Ford is telling a painful truth about the attempted rape she experienced at Kavanaugh’s hands when she was 15 and he 17. It doesn’t occur to “Bretts,” either her Brett or those of my youth, that they can’t have anything they want. Those in the Upper Valley need look no further than St. Paul’s school in Concord to see the reality of power and sexual misconduct in bastions of privilege. The state of New Hampshire is overseeing the school’s social milieu because of a long-standing culture of “Bretts.”

The efforts to discredit Dr. Blasey (as the Palo Alto University professor is known professionally) are both vicious and inaccurate. On Thursday, The New York Times reported a handful of outright lies advanced by conservative social media to undermine her credibility and establish a political motive for her allegations. Thank goodness for journalists who debunk propaganda, although Fox News viewers and Republican senators tweet and re-tweet this slander without regard for the truth or the consequences to a good and brave woman.

Sens. Charles Grassley and Orrin Hatch refuse to call for an FBI investigation, despite being on tape in 1991 calling an FBI investigation into the Anita Hill allegations a “very good” thing to do. They know that their “base” doesn’t see such evidence, as it is judiciously ignored on Fox and in conservative circles. The hypocrisy is not breathtaking. It’s suffocating.

It is clear that Kavanaugh and his companion in the room that night, the acknowledged teenage alcoholic Mark Judge, are guilty and frightened. Blasey passed a lie detector test administered by a retired FBI agent. Kavanaugh and Judge refuse to submit to such a test. She is calling for an FBI investigation. They refuse to agree to such a probe. In what world does a liar submit to a lie detector test and ask for deeper scrutiny while the innocent refuse to participate? Brett’s world. Trump’s world.

I also oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination on ideological grounds. His views on reproductive rights, corporate infallibility and presidential authority are extreme and dangerous. But those views don’t necessarily disqualify him from service, if his background was otherwise impeccable. (I should add: And if he had been nominated by a legitimately elected president who was in possession of all his marbles. And if the Republican Party hadn’t illegitimately denied President Barack Obama the appointment that was constitutionally his to make.)

But his background is far from impeccable. He arguably committed perjury in testimony during his confirmation hearing as a Circuit Court judge in 2006. He apparently lied several times during his current confirmation process, most humorously when Sen. Kamala Harris asked him if he had any conversations with members of the law firm where Trump’s personal attorney is partner. He blushed, stuttered and lied, looking just like a child denying stealing cookies while licking the frosting off his fingers.

But despite all of this, Grassley, Hatch, Trump and the abjectly amoral Republicans in the Senate want to hold a perfunctory hearing, dismiss Blasey’s claims as “unproven,” and quickly put their good old boy in his lifetime seat. They refer to her as “mistaken,” or the more typically misogynist “mixed-up,” claiming that it is a “he said, she said” situation, despite it actually being a “he said” and “she said, her friends say, her therapist said, leading psychiatrists said, statistics say, common sense says, and many possible witnesses might say” situation.

According to the Republicans, if the attempted rape cannot be proven, he must be confirmed. Nonsense.

This is not a criminal trial. He’s an applicant for one of the most important jobs in America. Job applicants are rejected all the time — for vague suspicions, cloudy reputations or one reference who indirectly alludes to prior misbehavior. There is enough already revealed about him (his “misleading” testimony to Congress, his tacit complicity in a tawdry office environment and more) that he would not be hired as a mid-level administrator in the organization I led.

A Supreme Court seat is not a birthright. Why is this being discussed as though it’s his job to have unless there is overwhelming evidence that he is guilty? It works the other way around. The double standard is vivid.

Young black men are convicted of alleged drug offenses based on illegal searches after being racially profiled. They can’t get a job at McDonald’s thereafter and often can’t vote.

This rich prep school kid is credibly accused of attempted rape and he’ll sit on the Supreme Court with lifetime tenure. And he’ll get this “job” because a group of entitled white men choose to believe him instead of the woman who is courageously putting her own reputation and emotional well-being at stake.

Simply disgusting.

Steve Nelson lives in Boulder, Colo., and Sharon. He can be reached at

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