Bill Kidder: Defending old men
I usually like Guy Farmer’s columns, but his Oct. 13 column (“What we learned from the Kavanaugh fiasco”) shocked me. It was a full-out, angry, partisan, “grumpy old man,” “what’s wrong with these women,” Lindsey Graham rant that’s beneath him. As an old man with five daughters, I feel the need to defend the old men.
Farmer began by telling us what “we” learned from Kavanaugh’s hearing, starting with, “…we learned many Democrats believe women always tell the truth about sexual assault and sexual harassment while men always lie.”
What! That’s not what I learned. I learned Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was a compelling witness and Kavanaugh’s denial was impassioned and often compelling as well. Her testimony rang true to me and I felt Kavanaugh “doth protest too much.”
Farmer continued, “We also learned men accused of sexual crime are guilty until they prove themselves innocent. Moreover, men can be convicted without any corroborating evidence or testimony, thereby turning American justice and jurisprudence upside down.”
Nope, that’s not what I learned, either. Sure, some men can be ruined by false accusations from women, but that pales in comparison to the 81 percent of women who have experienced sexual harassment (including from a lot of powerful old men) and the 20 percent who have been raped, or the millions who kept their mouths shut, knowing what would happen if they did say anything about powerful old men (anyone thinking about Trump mocking Dr. Ford?).
And finally, Farmer continued, “We learned a mere unsubstantiated allegation can ruin a person’s life and brand them as a sexual predator forever.”
No again. Dr. Ford’s “unsubstantiated allegation” might have been “substantiated,” but the Republicans didn’t want that. Yes, Jeff Flake suggested it and Trump said the FBI was going to do it, but it didn’t happen with Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford not interviewed and 30 to 40 others who wanted to give testimony ignored at White House direction.
Farmer also brought up Kavanaugh’s “alleged lack” of judicial temperament, asking, “Well, how would you react if someone accused you of being a serial rapist? Was he supposed to sit there like a meek, mild ‘girly man’ (thanks, Arnold) while they called him a drunken rapist?”
Ignoring the fact no one called Kavanaugh a “drunken rapist” (and I watched every minute of the hearing), here’s what I would have done: I would have watched my accuser’s testimony (Kavanaugh said he didn’t) and then gave me response. Instead, Kavanaugh spent that time writing out an angry response.
And here’s what I would not have done: As a self-proclaimed impartial judge, I would not say, “This whole two weeks has been a calculated and orchestrated hit, fueled with apparent pent up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election. Fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record. Revenge on behalf of the Clintons. And millions of dollars in money from outside, left-wing opposition groups. This is a circus!” And, as an impartial judge, I certainly would not have said, “What goes around comes around.” Remember, he wrote these words — they didn’t just roll off his tongue in anger — without (supposedly) watching her testimony.
But what it ultimately comes down to for me is what I know about Kavanaugh lied about. In his nomination speech, he said, “No president has ever consulted more widely or talked with more people from more backgrounds to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination.” And, in his swearing-in speech, Kavanaugh said to President Trump, “I’ve seen firsthand your deep appreciation for the vital role of the American judiciary,” adding the Supreme Court is “not a partisan or political institution.” Those statements are lies.
Farmer likes to say what “we” learned. Well, over a long life, here’s some things I have learned: What people say in anger is what they truly believe; if people will lie about some things, they’re capable of lying about anything; and what men are like when they’re drunk is what they’re truly like. When Kavanaugh writes “what goes around comes around,” he means it. And another old man, with no “deep appreciation for the vital role of the American judiciary,” knows he will.