The Kavanaugh hearings: the winners and losers

7 Oct 2018


On September 27th all eyes were fixated on Capitol Hill, where Dr Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh were both to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee investigating one major thing: Did Brett Kavanaugh sexually assault Dr Ford over 36 years ago when they were both in High School at a house party. The testimonies were both deeply fascinating and left most with more questions than answers but who, if anyone, came out well and who not so well? Who were the winners and losers of the Kavanaugh hearings?


Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court. Judge Kavanaugh first came to public knowledge during the 1990s when he worked alongside Special Counsel Ken Starr as he investigated the then President, Bill Clinton. He later worked as a Staff Secretary to George W Bush. This is when he met his wife Ashley, who has stood by him despite these allegations. But the allegations against him stretch back over 36 years to the summer of 1982, when Mr Kavanaugh was a student at Georgetown Prep where he, along with a friend, allegedly sexually assaulted Dr Ford at a house party.

Judge Kavanaugh passionately defended himself, sometimes to the point that he came across as very angry, which could be understandable for a man whose life and family have been torn to shreds. Unfortunately for Kavanaugh, he did not come out well of these hearings, but it would have been very hard for him to have.

In defending himself he constantly criticised the Democrats, making him out to be an extremely partisan judge. His drinking history and personal life were scrutinised with no sympathy by some, leaving doubts in some minds about whether he can sit on the highest court in the land. On the other hand, the evidence seems to favour Judge Kavanaugh, with none of the witnesses Blasey Ford provided able to corroborate her story.


All of them saying under penalty of felony that they have never met Mr Kavanaugh; and Kavanaugh being able to support the fact he was hardly ever in Washington (the alleged scene of the crime) during the summer of ’82. However, the FBI have since been ordered to launch an investigation.. So, Mr Kavanaugh has not gained anything from this ordeal and has certainly lost a lot. This was, however, a lose – lose scenario as to defend himself while keeping supporters happy, Judge Kavanaugh would have had to hand the Democrats a reason to justify a ‘no’ vote.


Dr Christine Blasey Ford, a Professor of Psychology was, unlike Judge Kavanaugh, relatively unknown before all this happened. She originally came forward on July 30th, writing to Dianne Feinstein who kept this under wraps until after the confirmation hearing. Her recollection of events is sketchy at best, but one might expect that given the time that has elapsed since the event.


However, one thing she does say she remembers is the name of the man who attacked her: Brett Kavanaugh.

Blasey Ford was put in a similar position to Kavanaugh, continuously questioned without sympathy, this time by Republicans. She came out of this better than Judge Kavanaugh simply because she had less to lose. Although some people back her, others don’t. She was discovered to be a vocal critic of Trump, as well as a member of the Democrats, only fuelling speculation that this was a ‘political witch hunt’. The FBI investigation will likely find whether she was telling the truth or not. If it is found to be the latter she certainly will come out of this horribly, and lose anything she has worked towards.


The Democrats. Ranking Member Feinstein came to the knowledge of this alleged assault on the 30th July, and withheld this for well over a month and a half, including during the
nomination hearing. This only did one thing: give the clear impression that she was saving it for a time closer to the Midterms to potentially crush the nomination and leave the seat open, maybe even until 2020.


This suspicious timing did no one any favours, including the accuser Dr Ford, who had to wait even longer to give her side of events, and it gave Republicans and their supporters a reason to claim this was a witch hunt, which overshadowed the whole hearing. On the flip side, this entire hearing was orchestrated by the Democrats and will, in their eyes, give them absolute reason to oppose the nomination. They also managed to control the narrative when it came to voting on the nominee, giving the impression that they had no idea what the vote was about, only making Senator Grassley look bad.


The Republicans came out in a semi-decent position. They riled up their base with impassioned speeches from Senators including Lindsey Graham, who certainly caught attention with his passionate speech in defence of Judge Kavanaugh and his record. This only increased the support from their supporters, who are angry at the way a conservative judge has been treated so close to the midterm elections. Chuck Grassley, however, certainly did his party no favours by rushing through a vote on the nominee while the Democrats protested the fact that they had no idea what the vote was about.


Donald Trump may be the only person who came out of this slightly positively. He has stood by his candidate which has pleased his base, while remaining subdued compared to his usual standards. He even ceded to members of his party and the Democrats, including Jeff Flake, by ordering the FBI to look into the allegations against his candidate.


To conclude, there were certainly no clear winners from this whole event and certainly a lot of losers. Kavanaugh and Ford have certainly lost a lot, as have the Democrats and Republicans,
who both managed to rile up their bases so close to the elections by using this as a political battleground. Both, however, looked incredibly partisan when questioning both testimonies, and the President managed to stay out of this as much as he could possibly bring himself to, leaving it to the Senate to decide the fate of his candidate.

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