Opinion

The truth about Kavanaugh will come out; can the Senate handle it?

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The truth will come out about Judge Brett Kavanaugh. And I mean the whole truth — about the way he has treated women in the past and about his views on critical issues likely to come before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The question facing Republicans in the U.S. Senate is whether they want to know the truth now, as they consider his nomination.

Or later, after they have elevated him with a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land.
Kavanaugh stands accused of sexual misconduct by two women.

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her during a high school party when she was just 15 years old. The details of the allegations are terrifying. Describing the attack, Ford says she feared for her life.

Since Ford made her allegations public, a second woman has come forward. Deborah Ramirez says that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party when they were both first-year students at Yale University.

Faced with this new information, Republican Senate leaders and the president have treated the women dismissively and have refused to ask the FBI to investigate the claims, despite requests from both women and from Democrats.

Instead, they have scheduled a sham of a hearing for Thursday, an effort to provide a fig leaf to Kavanaugh and give Republican senators cover to elevate him to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It reminds me of a famous courtroom scene from the 1992 movie “A Few Good Men.” Jack Nicholson plays Marine Corps Col. Nathan Jessup opposite Tom Cruise’s Navy prosecutor Lt. Daniel Kaffee. During the movie’s climax, Nicholson is under oath as Cruise questions him about the murder of a Marine under his command.

In the famous exchange, Nicholson bellows from the witness stand. “You snotty little bastard. … You want answers? You want answers?”

Cruise demands: “I want the truth.”

“You can’t handle the truth,” comes the reply from Nicholson as he is taunted into revealing the fact that he ordered a brutal beating and caused the death of a fellow Marine.

I fear that the Republicans in the U.S. Senate can’t handle the truth, and are going to great pains to make sure it isn’t uncovered.

I believe Ford and Ramirez. They are credible and have stepped forward to tell their stories despite great personal risk. Their lives have been turned upside down.

They have become public figures, both hated and hailed. They have been lifted up as heroes and have prompted women across the country to tell their own stories of being sexually assaulted.

Their lives will never be the same.

And while Kavanaugh has denied their allegations, the women have stood firm and demanded that they be heard and that the truth be told.

I don’t believe liars ask the FBI to investigate their claims, and I don’t believe that anyone would step forward into the firing line — no matter how much they might dislike President Donald Trump and his policies or how strongly they oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination — unless they felt like they had no choice.

So far Republicans aren’t willing to call additional witnesses or to reopen Kavanaugh’s background check.

According to media reports, Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has hired a female attorney to question Ford, afraid to lead the questioning of Ford himself and unwilling to show the country a panel of old white men badgering a woman about allegations of sexual assault.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday promised a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination shortly after Thursday’s scheduled hearing and said that the allegations by Ford and Ramirez were unsubstantiated and part of a smear campaign.

Sounds to me like they’re setting up a fair trial, followed by a first-class hanging for the witnesses, and that they think they have a lock on the votes they need for confirmation.

The rush to confirm is about politics and fear, including the fear of a change of power in the Senate and House after the midterm elections. But it’s also about pure, partisan power.

If Republicans jam Kavanaugh through, they will diminish the Supreme Court and turn it into a partisan extension of a Republican administration.

And when the truth comes out — about Kavanaugh’s conduct and with his decisions on pivotal, life-changing cases — the rest of us will see the Senate for what it’s become: A shadow of its former self and afraid of the truth.

David Farmer is a public affairs, political and media consultant in Portland, where he lives with his wife and two children. He was senior adviser to Democrat Mike Michaud’s 2014 campaign for governor.

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