Like most of you (at least those of you that live in the United States) I was completely engrossed by the testimony of both Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh in the 2nd round of the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings.
So the first thing to notice is that one cannot believe both Christine Ford and Brett Kavanaugh at the same time. She was 100% certain that it was Kavanaugh; he was 100% certain that he didn’t do it (although, he conceded, it might have been “someone, somewhere at some time”). Now, if a friend (or even just a well-known acquaintance) had punched me in high school, I might have been confused about why I was punched, but I would not have been confused about who did the punching. I also found it significant that Ford so vividly remembered Kavanaugh laughing, along with his friend Mark Judge.
Speaking of Mark Judge, that guy literally wrote a book named “Wasted,” subtitled “Confessions of a GenX Drunk.” This was Kavanaugh’s running buddy throughout high school.
Kavanaugh’s great outrage seemed like false outrage to me. My sense was that he had been told to go with the Trump playbook and to double-down on his previous denials. And to “hit back harder than he had been hit.” That, as we know, is the Trump playbook. To be sure, I also believe that Kavanaugh might have been genuinely distressed that his path to the Supreme Court – for which he had been groomed for years and years – was suddenly running into a serious roadblock. Sure, his privileged white frat boy future was being confronted, and he definitely did not like that. But I think his fake outrage was so awkward in large measure because it was such a put-on. He was playing for an audience of one: Donald Trump.
Also playing for an audience of one was Senator Lindsay Graham, who, as is common knowledge, has been angling to succeed Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. Graham has been positively schizophrenic this year, sometimes kowtowing, sometimes pretending to be independent, sometimes playing the spoiler.
Kavanaugh is a Republican Hack. This, also, is well known. He was on the Ken Starr investigative team and authored a memo that suggested that Bill Clinton should be required to testify in detail about his sexual habits and preferences. Since then, he has (of course!) done a 180, and now argues that a President shouldn’t be distracted by the possibility of an indictment, because that’s against the national security interest. Kavanaugh was part of the Bush White House, where one of his jobs was to help shepherd Bush Supreme Court nominees through the confirmation process. Somebody unearthed a fantastic picture of Kavanaugh and Karl Rove arm-in-arm, clearly already the best of friends. Republican hack all the way!
Kavanaugh lied repeatedly under oath, not only through these hearings, but also in previous hearings. For example, at previous confirmation hearings he lied about emails he received in 2003 containing documents stolen from Democratic senators and staff. He has also lied about his involvement in the nomination of controversial federal judges William Prior and Charles Pickering, and about his role in the nomination of William Haynes, the Pentagon general counsel involved in creating the Bush administration’s interrogation policies. In the hearings last Thursday he clearly lied about claiming not to know what the terms “devil’s triangle” and “boof” meant, or about the meaning of “Renate Alumnius” in his high school yearbook.
Kavanaugh distorted what Leland Ingham Keyser, Ford’s friend and classmate, said about her recollections of the party at which Ford said Kavanaugh assaulted her. Keyser never “exonerated” Kavanaugh, as the judge claimed. She simply affirmed that she had no independent recollection of the incident (because Ford, as she herself has acknowledged, did not share what happened that night with Keyser or anyone else). Ford doesn’t remember how she got home (as the Republican’s hired-gun prosecutor, Rachel Mitchell established).
We all have some responsibility for empowering Kavanaugh. The defense that the “rules were different” thirty-six years ago does have some merit. But I do have to say in response to the notion that “boys will be boys” that by 1982 I had participated in “Take Back the Night Marches” and would never ever have thought it appropriate to throw myself on a woman or grope her or do anything sexual without her consent. So it’s not that men of my (or Kavanaugh’s) age didn’t know better in 1982. It’s just that back then nobody held Kavanaugh to account.
The FBI investigation will confirm what we already know: that Christine Ford is certain that Kavanaugh assaulted her, but that there is no independent corroborating evidence that is available now. Leland Keyser will tell them that she has no recollection of the incident, but believe Ford now when she was assaulted. Mark Judge will also tell them he has no recollection of the incident (and he has every possible motive to lie). Who knows what Deborah Gonzalez will tell FBI investigators, but like with Christine Ford, there is unlikely to be any corroborating evidence from that incident at Yale (this one only 35 years old) either.
The purpose of the investigation is not to ferret out the truth but mostly to give comfort to those Republicans who need comfort before voting for Kavanaugh. Like Jeff Flake and Chris Coons. Or Susan Collins. Flake said the other day that he might not vote for Kavanaugh if the FBI investigation proved that Kavanaugh had lied. He did lie. Not only the lies already detailed above, but also lies about his own character. While Kavanaugh totally soft-pedals his drinking (and the effect it had on him) we now have people like Charles Ludington, a former varsity basketball player and friend of Kavanaugh’s at Yale, who told The Washington Post on Sunday that he plans to deliver a statement to the FBI field office in Raleigh on Monday detailing violent drunken behavior by Kavanaugh in college.
It won’t make any difference. The Republicans will get their man. Trust me on this. They’re all going to vote for Kavanaugh, and they’re all going to say that the FBI investigation was not conclusive and that the debate between Kavanaugh and Ford boils down to a he-said she-said scenario. It doesn’t. But it doesn’t matter. The fix is in. The GOP will have completed the “weaponizing” of the Supreme Court, and we’ll end up with two justices who have committed criminal sexual assault (but were never indicted for it) making judgments about women’s bodies and the balance of power between corporations and labor and all the other item’s on the right wing’s “to do” list.
 That, of course, doesn’t make Ford any different from thousands of other rape or assault victims, who don’t remember how they got home after their traumatic experience.
 And frankly, although I didn’t know Kavanaugh, it’s doubtful that I would have held him to account back in 1982 because he was a jock, because I would have doubted that he would have cared about anything I said, and because I wouldn’t felt that the system would have backed me up if I had tried to hold some frat boy like Kavanaugh to account.
 If there is no corroborating evidence against Kavanaugh, there also won’t be any corroborating evidence against Mark Judge.
 Charles Cameron Luddington is currently an associate professor in History at North Carolina State University.