Republicans don’t want to know too much about Kavanaugh

In another intense, chaotic week, former Maine Sen. George Mitchell provided clarity and wisdom. Speaking in Bangor, Mitchell recounted that a participant in the Northern Ireland peace process told him that what mattered greatly was two years of Mitchell’s persistent listening.

On the day Mitchell explained the importance of listening, Americans were in the midst of watching deeply flawed hearings concerning allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

A key flaw was that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh testified before the FBI investigated.

Christine Blasey Ford is sworn in by Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on Sept. 27. (Tom Williams/Pool Photo via AP)

Although three women made claims about sexual assaults by Kavanaugh when he was drunk, only one was heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Every decision about how the hearings happened and what information was available was made by Republicans on the committee. They didn’t want to know more.

Kavanaugh refused to say he thought the FBI should investigate. He was belligerent and rude, even asking Sen. Amy Klobuchar if she had blacked out from drinking too much.

It took one Republican to insist that listening and trying to find out facts should happen before the Senate voted on confirmation. Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona had already announced his support for Kavanaugh, but after listening to two women tell him that, like many sexual assault survivors, they felt unheard, he ensured the FBI would reopen Kavanaugh’s background check. Sadly, Flake said he wouldn’t have done it if he was running for re-election.

But if, as reported, the White House and Senate Republicans are making decisions about the scope of FBI investigation, it won’t — and shouldn’t — be taken seriously.

There are potential lines of corroborating evidence, including from Kavanaugh’s calendar but some would be blocked by Senate Republicans’ limits on the investigation.

Ford began marriage therapy after insisting that remodeling of their home include a second front door, an odd choice rooted in her fear of being trapped, which she traced back to escaping from the heavily drunk Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge when was 15.

Ford’s therapist can be interviewed by the FBI. So can Mark Judge, whose book is consistent with Ford’s timeline and describes a drunken high school buddy, “Bart O’Kavanaugh,”

Kavanaugh’s self-portrait contradicted what his college roommate James Roche saw, Kavanaugh “frequently drinking excessively and becoming incoherently drunk.” Kavanaugh was “normally reserved” but “became aggressive and belligerent when he was very drunk.” Another Yale friend came forward over the weekend to say he saw Kavanaugh “respond to a semi-hostile remark, not by defusing the situation, but by throwing his beer in the man’s face and starting a fight that ended with one of our mutual friends in jail. . .  In denying the possibility that he ever blacked out from drinking, and in downplaying the degree and frequency of his drinking, Brett has not told the truth.”

A pattern of dishonesty raises major red flags about Kavanaugh’s credibility, not just about the current charges but also about how he’d rule if he is confirmed to the Supreme Court.

Earlier in the hearings and in congressional testimony years ago, Kavanaugh wasn’t honest about receiving stolen documents when he worked in the White House. Kavanaugh incredibly claimed he never saw any of the raunchy emails regularly sent to a large list by his judicial mentor, Alex Kozinski, who has left his position due to repeated sexual harassment. Republicans didn’t ask about either.

This Republican tendency of avoiding or ignoring information didn’t start with the Kavanaugh nomination.

The Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency is doing away with the Office of Science Advisor. Under Administrator Scott Pruitt, the EPA limited the research and advisors it would use to make rules, shifting from peer-reviewed research to information provided by industries it regulates.

Despite being warned by experts that the Trump tax bill would drive up the deficit — as it has — Republicans refused to listen, claimed it wouldn’t happen and passed it anyway.

House Republicans, including Rep. Bruce Poliquin, voted for a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act before the Congressional Budget Office analyzed it. After they passed the bill, the CBO concluded that 23 million fewer people would have health coverage and Medicaid would be cut by $834 billion.

It’s perfectly human to want reality to conform with one’s world view and one’s political interests. Nearly all Republican officials want to end the ACA, slash rules limiting harmful pollutants, reduce government revenue, and put Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.

But not listening doesn’t stop bad consequences. Turning away from negative information doesn’t make it go away.


Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.