September 29, 2018

A Quick Take on the Kavanaugh Hearings

Judge Brett Kavanaugh
If you have come here looking for profound insight on the Senate hearings in which Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, you won't find it here. This is not going to be anything more than me sharing some brief thoughts and reactions to what I saw.

Before the hearings started, I found myself with one simple question: Would anyone change his or her mind as a result of the hearings? It seemed like everyone had already decided whether they supported or opposed Kavanaugh's appointment to the Supreme Court. Could anything that came out of these hearings change that?

Prior to the hearings, I opposed Kavanaugh's appointment. I expected that he would be appointed, but I certainly counted myself among those who would prefer that he not end up on the Court. I still feel that way; however, some of what happened in the hearings was unexpected and changed my views in other ways.

Before I address the big surprise, I'll touch on a few expectations that were confirmed. First, I expected that Ford would be credible and sympathetic. She was. Second, I expected that the hearings would likely be a "shit show" after which I would feel embarrassed to be an American. They were, and I did. The level of partisan hackery and extreme tribalism evident on both sides was pathetic. The lowlight was when Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana asked Kavanaugh whether he believes in some sort of god, a question that would be illegal during a job interview (which is what this was). Great to see that a member of the Judiciary Committee has so little regard for the law. I thought that the Democratic Senators handled themselves better than the Republican Senators, but that really isn't saying much. Third, I expected that we would learn little that would shed light on the veracity of the allegations against Kavanaugh. We didn't, and that did not seem to be the point of the hearings.

So what about the surprise and how my views changed. The big one was that I expected Kavanaugh would come off much better than he did. I expected him to be calm under fire, poised, articulate, rational, and effective. With his experience as both a political operative and a judge, I expected him to handle the situation with dignity and grace. I figured he'd come across appropriately non-partisan as he defended himself from the accusations against him.

None of this was the case. He yelled, he cried, he fired crazy accusations one might expect to hear from Alex Jones. I do not recall seeing another Supreme Court nominee behave so inappropriately and in such a blatantly partisan manner. I could not help thinking that this, by itself, should be disqualifying. Before the hearings, my main concerns about Kavanaugh had to do with how he would likely vote on cases involving reproductive rights and separation of church and state. After the hearings, I found myself being concerned about far more than that. Forget the Supreme Court; this guy seems poorly suited to be a judge of any sort.

And while we are on the subject of people being poorly suited for various positions, I'd like to learn more about this Sen. John Kennedy, whether our secular organizations are paying attention to him, when he comes up for re-election, etc.