22 September 2018

Will Democrats Give Christine Blasey Ford Anything?

As of this writing, Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh of attempted rape when they were in high school, has yet to agree to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, despite Committee Chairman Senator Chuck Grassley repeatedly extending the window for her to make up her mind. It is far from certain that she will testify, given Senator Grassley's unwillingness to accede to certain demands, chiefly that she testify after Judge Kavanaugh and that other witnesses be subpoenaed as well, in advance of her testimony.

The potential outcomes are that she either will or will not testify.

(Update: sources close the Senate Judiciary Committee are reporting that Ms. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh have agreed to appear Thursday, 26 September 2018. Some details are still being worked at this time.)

If she testifies, Judge Kavanaugh will appear to rebut her claims and defend himself against her accusations. Whether Mark Judge, an high school friend of Judge Kavanaugh whom Ms. Ford places in the room when she was attacked is subpoenaed seems unlikely, although a compelling statement by Ms. Ford could cause the committee to call him and potentially others as witnesses. If, as seems likely based on news reporting thus far, Ms. Ford's testimony largely repeats the charge without adding new detail pointing to new witnesses or possible corroborations, after the testimony is taken Judge Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court will likely proceed out of committee on a strict party line vote, and if he is confirmed it will likely again be on a strict party line vote.

If she does not testify, then Judge Kavanaugh's nomination appear to be a foregone conclusion. Certainly Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell feels quite confident about his chances before the full Senate.

Against the backdrop of these scenarios, with the strong probability that Judge Kavanaugh will be confirmed regardless of what she does, one can forgive Ms. Ford for not wanting to appear. A sense of futility would quite a normal state of mind under the circumstances.

Yet futility should be accompanied by frustration, for it need never have come down to this binary choice.
  • Senator Diane Feinstein did not have to withhold Ms. Ford's letter for six weeks, then leak its existence to the media rather than forwarding it to either the committee or to the FBI for inclusion in their background check on Judge Kavanaugh.
  • Democrats did not have make the ludicrous demand that the FBI investigate Ms Ford's claim, conveniently overlooking the jurisdictional reality that the FBI does not investigate sexual assault claims, and the procedure reality that the FBI does not make determinations of witness credibility when conducting background checks. As of this writing, the number of Democrats who have requested the Maryland State Police and the Maryland Attorney General investigate her accusation remains exactly zero.
  • Ms. Ford's attorney, Democrat activist Debra Katz, did not have to issue a serious of demands before Ms. Ford would deign to appear before the committee, demands which are not merely presumptuous in the extreme, but also fly directly in the face of American legal tradition--namely, that Judge Kavanaugh testify before Ms. Ford and not after, thus preventing him from effectively confronting her allegations.
  • Senator Kirsten Gillibrand did not have to absurdly and fatuously suggest that setting a time for a hearing where Ms. Ford could give her testimony and present her case against Judge Kavanaugh was, somehow, "silencing" her.
What should have happened? 

When Democrat politicians first met with Christine Ford and arranged for Debra Katz to represent her in this matter (it is no great leap to presume that Katz comes in via Senator Feinstein's office, given that Ms. Katz is a Beltway insider), they should have been preparing her from that point forward to testify. Senator Feinstein should have shared Ms. Ford's letter with the FBI immediately, allowing for Ms. Ford to be interviewed in private and for Judge Kavanaugh to respond in private, sparing both the public spectacle of the current media feeding frenzy. Senator Feinstein should have informed the Judiciary Committee of Ms. Ford's allegations, so that they could have been addressed in the regular order.

No Republican had a hand in any of these failures by Democrats. These are the results of choices made by Democrats and Democrats alone.

Further, to suggest, as Senator Gillibrand did, that Ms. Ford should be believed on the basis of her statement alone is monstrous. To believe blindly is to not care, neither about truth nor about Ms. Ford herself. Crime victims--assault victims in particular--get details wrong in almost every instance, including the identity of the perpetrator.  Add in the muddling influence of alcohol and the effect of time on memory, and the potential for error in her story increases exponentially. It is not a questioning of Ms. Ford's veracity to inquire skeptically as to her accuracy. 

Rather, to ignore her accuracy is to say her veracity is irrelevant. To ignore her accuracy is to say that it matters not what happened to her, it matters only that she is a woman, and that as a woman she is a victim of...something. To ignore her accuracy and proceed to destroy Judge Kavanaugh's life and reputation is to say it does not matter if her attacker receives a just penalty for his behavior.

To ignore Ms. Ford's accuracy is to ignore Ms. Ford. To ignore Ms. Ford's accuracy is to ignore Ms. Ford's trauma. It is as simple as that--and that is not justice by any measure.

What have the Republicans done in response to Ms. Ford's accusations?

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has set a date for a hearing, where both Ms. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh will appear (though they would not be seated side by side, as some media outlets have reported). The agenda is for Ms. Ford to give her recitation of what happened to her 36 years ago, and for Judge Kavanaugh to respond in his own defense.  It is not a trial, and the committee is not a court, but the testimonies will be under oath, penalties of perjury would attach, and there would be a transcript of the proceedings. If relevant questions of fact arise during the proceedings, the committee has the ability to refer those questions to the FBI for further investigation as appropriate. The hearing, should it occur, potentially is the start of the investigation the Democrats have cried out for even as they have obstructed and prevented it.

That is what the Republicans have offered, and apparently in good faith. What have the Democrats offered? In encouraging Ms. Ford to not testify, what closure do they propose to give her? While they keep her name and her trauma in the headlines and on the news shows, seeking maximum political advantage against Republicans in the upcoming mid-terms, what solace do they provide?

While the Republicans are doing their utmost to hear Ms. Ford, and to give Ms. Ford the platform she needs, the Democrats are doing their utmost to ignore Ms. Ford. The Democrats have weaponized her claim against the Republicans, but have done nothing to bring her any healing or any closure. They have taken her claim and left her behind.

We do not at this time know--and quite possibly we may not be able to know--if it was Judge Kavanaugh who attempted to violate Ms. Ford thirty-six years ago. We do know who is violating Ms. Ford today: Senator Diane Feinstein, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Charles Schumer, attorney Debra Katz....Democrats all.

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