September 19, 2018

Kavanaugh Continued

Editor’s note: Thank you all so much for your kind and thoughtful answers to our questions. If you haven’t yet had a chance, it’s not too late! Here’s the short 4-minute survey we put together to help us better understand our readers and learn how we can serve you better. It’s completely anonymous so please don’t hold back!

P.S. we know today’s edition is a bit long, but given the high stakes and intense political climate, we thought it best to err on the side of more rather than less. We’ll return to our usual length tomorrow!

“Republicans on Monday abruptly called Brett Kavanaugh and the woman accusing him of sexual assault decades ago to testify publicly next week... The move forced Republicans to put off a planned committee vote for Thursday on Kavanaugh’s nomination.” AP News

On Tuesday, the accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, communicated through her lawyer that she “wants her allegations to be investigated by the FBI before she appears at a U.S. Senate hearing.” Reuters

See past issues

From the Left

The left deems Ford a credible witness and thinks her accusation should be taken seriously.

“[Ford] has nothing obvious to gain by exposing herself this way and a lot to lose."

Chicago Tribune

“Ford has come forward, with full knowledge that she is likely to experience threats, smears, the usual gamut done to women who speak out against men in power."

Huffington Post

“The idea that we should just ignore Ford's allegations because we are unlikely to know beyond a shadow of a doubt who is lying and who is not is beyond ridiculous."


“In a criminal case, the burden of proof would be necessarily high, in order to make sure that an innocent man is not punished. In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, the burden of proof is not about punishment but about evaluating qualifications and also [appraising] potential harm if a bad person is made a judge...

"If there is credible reason to believe [Ford’s account of events], even if those reasons don’t meet the threshold of legal certainty, then the accusation is highly relevant.”

New Republic

“Experts say that some of the most commonly raised causes for doubt, like a long delay in reporting or a foggy recall of events, are the very hallmarks of sexual assault."

New York Times

“Studies have found that false accusations are quite rare, but when they do happen, they tend to share several important characteristics. To anyone familiar with false rape accusations, the striking thing about this story is that it’s so undramatic. False stories typically have a lurid quality, often involving bizarre forms of cruelty that don’t always strictly make sense... [Moreover] Ford doesn’t fit the profile of somebody who makes a false accusation."


Many point out that even if one were inclined to excuse the alleged behavior, it would first be necessary for Kavanaugh to take responsibility.

Instead, “he’s denied that the incident ever happened and has stood by while those who support his nomination mock and smear Blasey Ford. If one were to argue that we should consider that a person can harm another, acknowledge the harm, do the best they can to work on themselves and try to mitigate that harm, Kavanaugh has done none of these things.”


Some are asking, “should Brett Kavanaugh withdraw?... One can believe that Kavanaugh might be perfectly innocent and still think that, unfair as it is to him, the political interest of the country would be better served with a nominee who didn’t have to be confirmed under a cloud of suspicion."

New York Times

“The choice — the dilemma — will be whether to block the rise of a widely respected judge based on something he might (or might not) have done as a juvenile, or to promote to the highest court a man accused of trying to rape an underage girl. Either choice presents the acute possibility that a grave injustice will be done... [But] Kavanaugh can put the country ahead of his personal ambitions. While maintaining his innocence, he can withdraw for the sake of the court’s credibility.”

Washington Post

From the Right

The right does not believe the allegation should disqualify Kavanaugh, as there is not enough corroborating evidence on either side to definitively determine what occurred 35 years ago, and resists further delay of the confirmation process.

The right does not believe the allegation should disqualify Kavanaugh, as there is not enough corroborating evidence on either side to definitively determine what occurred 35 years ago, and resists further delay of the confirmation process.

“Letting an accusation that is this old, this unsubstantiated and this procedurally irregular defeat Mr. Kavanaugh would also mean weaponizing every sexual assault allegation no matter the evidence. It will tarnish the #MeToo cause with the smear of partisanship, and it will unleash even greater polarizing furies...

"There is no way to confirm her story after 36 years, and to let it stop Mr. Kavanaugh’s confirmation would ratify what has all the earmarks of a calculated political ambush.”

Wall Street Journal

“Even for those who are inclined to believe her account and think that she is due some restitution, no true justice can be meted out that doesn’t infringe on the rights of the accused. Those in the commentary class who would use Kavanaugh as a stand-in for every abuser who got away, every preppy white boy who benefited from unearned privilege, every hypocritical conservative moralizer to exact some karmic vengeance are not interested in justice. They want a political victory."

Commentary Magazine

“Ford's allegations against the judge are such that they can’t be proven or disproven. Ford recalls neither the day, nor the month, nor even for certain the year that the alleged assault took place. She doesn’t recall where it happened except that she thinks it was in Montgomery County, Md. Ford recalls only that the alleged assailant was a young Brett Kavanaugh."

Washington Examiner

Many point out that memories can be unreliable.

“William Hirst, of the New School for Social Research... followed more than 3,000 [victims of 9/11] over a 10-year period. [He] found that, over time, many forgot key details of the attacks, while others had false memories involving events that did not happen. Yet most surveyed remained confident in the accuracy of their 9/11 memories, even as the consistency of those memories declined with time... ‘Flashbulb memories’ formed by upsetting events, he wrote, are often wrong.”

New York Post

It’s crucial to see whether this accusation is a one-off or part of a pattern. Everything we know about Kavanaugh — from his friends, colleagues, students, and community — suggests that he is not just a good guy, but an extraordinarily generous and upright person... Maybe it’s all a charade, but we should be loath to draw that conclusion without at least one more woman stepping up to recount a similar experience."

National Review

If you believe that Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Keith Ellison, Al Franken, and Bobby Scott are all falsely accused, while Brett Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas, Donald Trump, Blake Fahrenthold, Roy Moore, and Eric Greitens are all guilty as sin — or vice versa! — you’re part of the problem."

National Review

“Even if it happened as she says, should that kind of thing — as vile as it was — disqualify Kavanaugh?... I think we should be reluctant to hold teenage behavior against adults 35 years after the fact."

The American Conservative

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