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The Kavanaugh/Ford Hearing

Rich Galen

Friday September 28, 2018

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    While watching the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford:

  • As I was watching the Ford/Kavanaugh hearing Thursday morning, two things occurred to me. First, this entire episode is a searing example of the tribalism that has not just infected our American political system; but is squeezing the life out of it.

  • Over the past few weeks, I have sent and received hundreds emails and texts as the accusations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh have piled one atop another. Virtually every one of the communications stated an absolute position of Kavanaugh's guilt or innocence.

  • I have no idea what weight to put on the accusations. Anonymous allegations are subject to a higher level of skepticism than an accusation by someone who has identified themselves, but the fact of anonymity is not, in and of itself, a disqualifier.

  • I have tried to make the case in each of these communications that I have not idea what happened that night in Montgomery County, Maryland 35 years ago. And, it is possible - even likely - that the FBI could investigate for another 35 years and never find out what actually occurred.

  • I am not a particular fan of Judge Brett Kavanaugh and haven't been since the first set of hearings. I felt that he lacked the charm and personality of John Roberts - now Chief Justice of the United States, and he also lacked the intellect of Neil Gorsuch - now Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

  • Does that mean Judge Kavanaugh is unqualified? No. But, I wonder if he was the best choice based upon his legal background and insight; or whether he was the best choice based upon his political history and skill.

  • I thought Dr. Ford was credible when I read the interview she did with the Washington Post. Watching her testimony was riveting.

  • As I was watching her I remembered a long scene in former FBI Director James Comey's book when he described his he and his brother being trapped in their New Jersey home by an armed robber and how that affected his thinking for decades.

  • I am also remembering what we've talked about a number of times: Covering municipal court I was struck by how, listening to the prosecution make its case against someone who was charged with, say, drunk driving, I thought the defendant was the worst person on Earth.

  • Then, listening to the defense attorney mount his or her case, I thought that the defendant was, like Raymond Shaw, "the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life."

  • We'll see how this goes when Judge Kavanaugh gets his turn this afternoon.

    While watching the testimony of Judge Brett Kavanaugh:

  • I Tweeted, earlier, that we needed to give Kavanaugh his time at bat. He started out swinging for the fences. Jarring, I thought, after the soft, halting, testimony of Dr. Ford, but a legit tactic.

  • An effect of his roaring opening statement was he got himself emotionally wound up. He choked up when talking about his 10-year-old daughter praying for Dr. Ford. He choked up again when he talked about his dad. Then, as he tired, he needed to stop often for a sip of water to compose himself.

  • As the process moved into the questioning, Judge Kavanaugh was responsive to the questions from the Mitchell who did the questioning on the part of the Republicans but, was bellicose when questioned by Democratic Senators.

  • Putting aside which of the two witnesses you believe (if either), Judge Kavanaugh did not sound like, look like, or act like a Justice of Supreme Court.

  • The Republicans apparently decided that having Rachel Mitchell continue to ask questions on their behalf was not working, so the Senators took over.

  • The first Republican Senator to actually ask a question was Lindsey Graham of South Carolina who attacked the Democrats saying that the way they have treated Judge Kavanaugh will stop good people from wanting to serve in high government office.

  • Probably true.

  • The Dems were reduced to going through Kavanaugh's high school yearbook which he described as being a combination of National Lampoon, Animal House and other off-beat movies of the time.

  • They also tried to get Kavanaugh to specifically ask for a reopening of an FBI investigation. (A) Kavanaugh's a witness. (B) It is a ploy to attempt to stop the committee from voting on Friday morning.

  • Under questioning by Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, Kavanaugh said, "My life is totally and permanently altered" by this process.

  • Also, probably true.

  • Which made me think that Judge Kavanaugh understood that he may not become a member of the U.S. Supreme Court but was working to begin to restore his reputation.

  • Watching these two people was exhausting.

  • I can't begin to imagine what it must have been like to have been those two people.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring today: A link to the original interview in the Washington Post, to an article about James Comey's book, to that "Raymond Shaw" line.

    The Mullfoto is by Mullpal Tim Hyde of demonstrators on Capitol Hill during the Judiciary Committee hearing.

    -- END --

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