USian politics has become such an interesting quagmire (why should their military have all the fun?) that you can barely look away before things change. With this in mind, let’s talk about Brett Kavanaugh, a judge on the US Court of Appeals, DC, nominee to the Supreme Court and current Senate grillee.
It all began on 13 September, when the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dianne Feinstein, forwarded information involving Kavanaugh to federal investigators. As the world found out later, that information consisted of an accusation from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a professor of psychology at Palo Alto University, and researcher at nearby Stanford University.
As I’m a woman, I know a lot of readers will naturally assume that I’m going to side with Dr. Ford but, in fact, I find reprehensible actions on the part of both Democratic and Republican partisans.
The first incredible thing for me is that, within twenty-four hours of this news breaking, sixty-five (65) women who knew Kavanaugh in high school testified to his good character. Sixty-five. I can’t muster sixty-five people to say I even exist within thirty days, much less tell everyone publicly what a Good Soul I am within one! And it wasn’t even a yes/no question, but a letter to the Committee on the Judiciary. From high school. More than thirty years ago. Assuming that Kavanaugh has an equal number of male and female friends from high school, that means he’s in contact with around one hundred and thirty people from an era of his life more than three decades ago. (He actually says two hundred and twenty in the Fox interview.) Really? If I were to put my sceptic’s hat on, it sounds more than a little convenient.
But then we come across Dianne Feinstein, who withheld the letter for almost two monthsbefore referring it on to federal investigators. Does that sound like a champion of women’s rights to you, or someone who is using words as a political weapon?
I could go on but leave the latest news to the interested reader. Does Kavanaugh’s alleged behaviour towards Ford disallow him from appointment as a Supreme Court judge? As the factional crocodiles started muddying the water with their contortions, Deborah Ramirez stepped forward via an article in The New Yorker magazine, although (as of this writing) she refuses to make a legal statement on the “extreme flashing” episode that allegedly occurred at Yale. Hmm, that’s a bit unfortunate. So, luckily, Julie Swetnick stepped forward with “confident” accusations of spiked drinks leading to gang rape at high school (after she had already enrolled in college).
Do I believe the young men who attended all-male Catholic schools and, later, Yale are capable of this sort of behaviour? Absolutely. I studied next to such males in secondary school and they were animals. As for Yale…elites…Skull and Bones. Not a shred of doubt in my mind. They were capable of such behaviour. Do I believe Kavanaugh was capable of this behaviour? Honestly? I don’t know.
But that meant that, after this musing, I was curious about what kind of man Brett Kavanaugh is, so I sat through the Fox interview with him and his wife, Ashley. Twice. It gave me nothing. Ashley Kavanaugh was basically a slightly more interesting patch of wallpaper. Brett Kavanaugh was obviously coached (“All I’m asking for is a fair process where I can be heard”, “America is about fairness”, although he forgot his lines every now and then) and the two moments where he seemed to be on the verge of strong emotion were a nice touch, but too little to sway me. What I did find interesting, and which leads into my major point, is that Kavanaugh came across as a very bland character. No noticeable indignation, no swipes at the Democrats for concocting this last-minute artillery barrage (for that is surely what this entire exercise was). Just bromides and an absolute refusal to be drawn into any kind of opinion. This is important.
Now that I’ve set the scene, let’s get to the meat of this post. Kozinski.
Judge Alex Kozinski is a former Circuit judge for the US Court of Appeals. Brett Kavanaugh clerked for Kozinski in the early 90s and has maintained (and continues to maintain) a close relationship with the man who introduced him to the Senate in DC. Nobody would really give a fig about Alex Kozinski except for one thing: the “Easy Rider Gag List”.
The Gag List was an email list of people Kozinski sent off-colour/raunchy/sexually explicit jokes to.
[Tangent: Working and consulting in many single-sex-dominated areas, I can tell you that this is common across all fields and that I’ve been on such lists in an office environment many times. It doesn’t mean that the source of such lists is automatically a rapist. All it says is that they have no taste, few filters, an inappropriately extrovert nature and—this is most important—they are ways to let them know they are crossing a line which they will respect if you’re firm enough and don’t come across as some kind of victim. But, as with prey and predators, show any kind of weakness and you’re toast. Is this fair? No. Is this the price to pay if you’re working in a male- or female-dominated field? (I’ve heard and seen what happens to individual men who work in an office full of women; it ain’t much better) Yes.]
Knowing the close and continuing relationship that Kavanaugh had and has with Kozinski, can a person reasonably assume that Kavanaugh was on Kozinski’s Gag List? I would say so.
Yet, when specifically asked by Senators Orrin Hatch and Mazie Hirono if he was aware of such a list, Kavanaugh said he couldn’t recall anything like that. “I do not remember such comments”.
And that’s why I think Kavanaugh does not deserve to be a Supreme Court judge. Not because he’s a man and thus automatically guilty of any/all sexually-related crimes if a woman makes the accusation. Not because he was on some pathetic dirty joke list. But because if he can pretend that certain things in his life don’t exist in order to either protect himself or his friends, if he can so subsume everything that is human in order to achieve a personal goal, then he doesn’t deserve a place on the highest judicial panel in the United States. Or maybe, for that exact reason, he does. Your guess is as good as mine.
* According to USian political folklore, Bill Clinton won his first term as President with the slogan “It’s the Economy, Stupid!”.