24 Sep The Strange Case of Dr. Blasey and Mr. Hyde
As I write this, it’s still uncertain under what circumstances Dr. Christine Blasey Ford will testify Thursday before the Senate Judiciary committee about her alleged sexual assault in high school by Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s nominee for a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court.
I write “alleged” because that’s legally required.
But I believe Christine Blasey Ford. And I still believe Anita Hill.
We expect the usual ignorance and vitriol from Trump, who has broken his restraints and is attacking Dr. Blasey (as she prefers to be called). Were we terminally naive to think that perhaps Senate Republicans just might have learned something from the debacle of their performance in 1991, especially since it was later proven that Hill told the truth and Thomas lied? Yes, we were naive. And Thomas sits on the Supreme Court to this day, with no serious attempts to impeach him.
This time, the GOP guys claimed it was too late for Dr. Blasey to testify. Then, forced by public pressure, they scheduled her for only three days hence, to sit at the same table with her accused assaulter as if on a panel. They have brazenly abandoned regular order and precedent, which requires FBI investigation of the charges (and which Dr. Blasey specifically requested). Astonishingly, they have rejected the admission of witnesses corroborating her, including her husband, her therapist (and her therapist’s notes, of record), plus an FBI-agent-administered polygraph lie-detector test. They have even refused to call an eyewitness—Mark Judge, a drinking pal of Kavanaugh’s who was present in the room during the attack but claims to recall nothing. Judge nonetheless doesn’t want to testify under oath, having authored a book about how he spent his high school years in an alcoholic daze of blackouts and aggressive sex acts: Wasted: Tales of A GenX Drunk, in which he refers to his booze buddy and fellow miscreant as “Bart O’Kavanaugh.” Judge’s high school yearbook page references “100 kegs or bust,” “Devil’s Triangles” (threesomes), and “Alcoholics Unanimous (Founder).” The page includes a quote from a Noel Coward play: “Certain women should be struck regularly, like gongs.”
The Committee’s position—rejecting eyewitnesses and written evidence, forcing the survivor to sit next to the perpetrator who traumatized her when she was only fifteen, and traducing her reputation as a distinguished academic and author of 50 books (whose specialty is facts and statistical models of psychological research)—is both execrable and ludicrous.
Dr. Blasey has demonstrated the same remarkable courage shown by now millions of women who have come forward to break their silence about sexual crimes perpetrated on them, yesterday or 27 years ago or 35 years ago. She has done this despite knowing and fearing the price that is already being exacted: attacks on her character and reputation, death threats (to her and her family), being forced to leave her home, be separated from her children, go into hiding, and more. It’s a felony to lie to the FBI, so if she’s lying, why has she pleaded that the FBI thoroughly investigate her story? And since Kavanaugh and the Trumpers refuse to involve the FBI, what does that tell us?
Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R.-Iowa) stumbles from misstatement to blatant lie. Committee member Orrin Hatch (R.-Utah) flexes his fanatic glare muscles and announces “I don’t know who this woman is. But I know she is mixed up.” Hatch, the longest serving Republican senator in U.S. history, is treading in his own footsteps from the 1991 Clarence Thomas hearings when he impugned Anita Hill’s sanity, asking her whether her testimony wasn’t really a figment of her imagination inspired by the book The Exorcist. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Kentucky) has already announced that he and his Republican herd will place Kavanaugh on the Court no matter what anyone testifies. As of this writing, the entire Republican senatorial team has lined up like obedient curs to lick their masters’ boots, including the so-called moderates Bob Corker (R.-Tennessee) and Jeff Flake (R.-Arizona), the so-called reasonable Lindsey Graham (R.-S. Carolina), and the so-called champion of women’s rights, Susan Collins (R.-Maine). They may loathe Trump and hate Mitch McConnell, but when those two whistle, apparently they come running.
While we’re at it, former Vice President Joe Biden who, back when he was a Democratic Senator from Delaware chaired the Hill Thomas hearings, is now criticizing the Kavanaugh travesty—yet he still doesn’t take responsibility for what went down in 1991. He says, “I wish I could’ve done more to prevent those questions, the way they asked them.” Really? Well, what he could have done is call the two women he knew were sitting in a nearby hotel waiting to testify as corroborating witnesses to Thomas’s unlawful behavior. Biden didn’t call them. He was afraid of looking racist after Thomas had referred to the hearing as a “high tech lynching of a black man.” Apparently the fact that Hill, too, was black didn’t count—because she was a woman.
And please spare me the friends, former law clerks, and mentees of Kavanaugh who proclaim he never did this to them. If you’re charged with robbery and 500 of your friends cry out that you never robbed them, that won’t get you off the robbery you are charged with. But Kavanaugh’s “such a nice man,” claim his pals. Until she moved out of their shared residence last June, Camille Cosby said the same thing about the numerous sexual assaults of which Bill Cosby has been found guilty (to be sentenced today): ”That’s just not the man I know.” Have these people never heard of the “boy-next-door serial killer” Ted Bundy? Have they never heard of a book by Robert Louis Stevenson titled Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?
Ironically, whatever happens, the cognitively impaired GOP members of the Judiciary Committee lose. Without the FBI investigation that’s normal in these circumstances, they’re exposed for being the bullies they are, trying to ram through Kavanaugh’s appointment without due process. But if they accede to Ford’s reasonable request for standard procedure, then they’ll have to face whatever the FBI discovers—and with each passing moment more women will likely come forward, since such behavior in men is rarely singular—which is precisely what the GOP guys fear. Furthermore, if/when Dr. Blasey testifies, the nation will witness the spectacle of a dignified female psychology professor/expert statistician facing a committee with a Republican majority composed entirely of pompous white males livid that their sense of entitlement is being challenged and desperate to defend their institutionally sclerotic political party. Terrified of such an optic, these cowards are trying to get off the hot seat by breaking all precedent and importing an outside inquisitor—a hand-picked woman, of course—to interrogate Dr. Blasey, claiming they want to do so out of “sensitivity.” As of this writing, her attorneys are insisting that the senators themselves do the job they are Constitutionally required to do.
The country is already furious about this, with Kavanaugh’s disapproval rating swiftly climbing from a plurality toward a majority. Women are sitting in outside Grassley’s office and massing in front of the Senate. Demonstrations are planned across the country. Online, women leapt to respond to Trump’s accusation that not reporting sexual offenses at the time of the offense means women are making it up, #WhyIDidntReport not only trended but overflowed with thousands and thousands of heart-rending stories. To rush, deny, disbelieve, trivialize, and insult a sexual assault survivor in the #MeToo era makes one wonder if the GOP has a suicide wish. While it looks as if they may indeed lose the House of Representatives in the midterms, they can also lose the Senate if they continue abusing this particular survivor.
Meanwhile, if you haven’t already, please deluge Senators—your own and others, especially the teetering Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska—with emails, tweets, faxes, and phone calls. And send loving thoughts and raised fists of support to Dr. Christine Blasey, another accidental activist who found herself changing history when she found her own voice.
As for the men—the Louis CKs and Charlie Roses and Mario Battalis who think they have a right to return to prominence after a few months of enforced vacation—Senator Maizie Hirono (D.-Hawaii) spoke for all of us. Hirono is a true portrait in courage who is battling stage 4 kidney cancer yet shows up to represent her constituents every single day. When asked what men should do about all this, she spoke with real passion:
“We all know when something is not fair, when something smells. Why should we participate in the victimization of someone who has the courage to come forward? I expect the members of the press to talk about how unfair that is. I expect the men in this country and the men in this committee to demand an FBI investigation. But really, guess who is perpetuating all of these kinds of actions? It’s the men in this country! I just want to say to the men in this country: just shut up and step up, do the right thing for a change.”
It seems that Republican men have learned even less than other men, however, since 1991. But women have learned—a lot.
This is going to be quite an interesting week, don’t you think?