Earlier this month, Rob Papandrea wrote an opinion piece about why Brett Kavanaugh should be confirmed to the Supreme Court (which you should go read). I disagree fundamentally with Papandrea's assertion that Kavanaugh should have been confirmed as well as the evidence he uses, so I felt motivated to write a response.
The op-ed begins with an attempt to remove Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations from the debate over Kavanaugh’s confirmation by asserting that “there is a distinct difference between an investigation and a protracted character assassination in the court of public opinion.” However, neither an investigation nor a character assassination is the reality of Kavanaugh’s confirmation process. What happened was a sham designed to give political cover rather than find the truth.
Papandrea writes that the Democratic Party pulled off a miracle by making Kavanaugh’s nomination anything but a sure thing. In my opinion, the Republicans pulled off a miracle. They not only avoided Kavanaugh being pushed out of the nomination process and then resigning in disgrace, but actually succeeding in confirming him to the highest court in the nation.
Further, Papandrea calls the timing of Ford’s allegations "convenient" in an effort to discredit her. The motivation behind the timing of the allegation is clear: Ford did not want to come forward with her allegation. She did not want to press criminal charges against Kavanaugh, nor did she want to disrupt Kavanaugh’s family or career. She only came forward once his nomination seemed assured because her only goal was to prevent a sexually violent man from serving on the Supreme Court. Ford put herself in tremendous emotional and physical danger in an effort to act in the best interest of her nation.
Later, Papandrea classifies the #MeToo movement as a “highly effective political tool used by the left to remove opposition.” According to Vox.com, which has compiled a list of “celebrities, politicians, CEOs, and others who have been accused of sexual misconduct since April 2017,” 18 Republican politicians have been accused compared with 20 Democrats. That seems to discredit the “used by the left” portion of Papandrea’s argument.
When it comes to the "highly effective" part of the argument, we must examine who these people are. Predominantly they are state senators, state assembly members or state representatives. For simplicity's sake, we will look only at members of Congress, governors, presidents and Supreme Court nominees. There have been three Republican United States representatives and five Democratic representatives accused of sexual misconduct since April 2017. There has been one Republican governor and no Democratic governors accused. There has been one Republican Senate candidate and one Democratic senator accused. There have been two Republican presidents and a conservative Supreme Court nominee and no Democrats in either role accused.
The Republican Senate candidate who was accused of sexual misconduct lost his race and the accused Democratic Senator has resigned. Three accused Democratic representatives have not resigned, and all other representatives have either resigned or are not seeking reelection. The Republican governor has not resigned. Neither Republican president or the Supreme Court nominee have faced consequences. This is not the picture of a highly effective political tool.
Next, Papandrea brings a comparison between Ford and Juanita Broaddrick, a woman who accused former President Bill Clinton of raping her. Papandrea attempts to create a false inequality between the two women. First and foremost, the flippant dismissal of Ford’s allegations rolled into a transparently partisan attack on a Democratic president in the name of sexual assault victims was revolting.
Papandrea criticized Democrats for suppressing Broaddrick’s allegations while remaining suspiciously silent on the mockery of an FBI investigation that Republicans held for political optics. Not giving respect to sexual assault victims is a non-partisan disease afflicting every group in the nation. To try to give a moral high ground to either Democrats or Republicans is naive.
Papandrea asks where we will draw the line, whether we will require every nominee to account for their every waking moment. I would ask, where does he draw the line? Should lifetime nominees to the highest court in America have no accountability? Is the way nominees behave in their private lives completely immaterial?
Papandrea also suggests that the natural extension of investigating a credible sexual assault allegation is asking nominees "to recount and account for their every waking hour in the vain hope that they have never been remotely controversial in their lives,” which is frankly horrifying.
Lastly, Papandrea employs the popular argument that Ford’s allegations have not been proven and that Kavanaugh is not “verifiably guilty.” He fails to take into account that these hearings are not a criminal prosecution, but a job interview. Ford’s accusation is credible enough that she did not need to prove that Kavanaugh is guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt. It is without question that an innocent man being convicted of sexual assault in the court of public opinion is a travesty. However, it would be gravely worse to confirm a guilty man, so much so that the risk of denying an innocent, qualified jurist a position on the Supreme Court is outweighed.
Furthermore, even without credible sexual assault allegations, this was a terrible job interview. Kavanaugh lied and blustered his way through the hearings in a manner that should be disqualifying in its own right.
It is beyond words how ashamed I am that the leaders of the country I love voted to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The presidency, the Senate and the Supreme Court are all institutions that I hold in the highest regard, and this embarrassing display of pseudo-governance will forever be a black mark on their history.
Contact senior opinions writer Cal Pringle at firstname.lastname@example.org.