Thursday, September 27, 2018


Political Mayhem Thursday: How to watch the Kavanaugh hearings

I'll be watching as much of the testimony tomorrow in the Senate Judiciary Committee as I can (and I may be talking about it tomorrow night on CNN). Here is what I will be watching for, and not watching for:

1)  The Democratic and Republican lineups on that committee are distinct in two fascinating ways. Six of the ten Democrats on the committee were previously United States Attorneys or state prosecutors with either trial or supervision experience. On the Republican side, though, only one has that kind of experience--Mike Lee was a federal prosecutor--and a few others have related experiences (John Cornyn was Attorney General of Texas, and Ted Cruz was Solicitor General there--both jobs that rarely if ever take someone into a trial courtroom). Will that matter? Is that disparity one reason that the Republicans have hired a "female assistant" (as Sen. Mitch McConnell called her) to ask the questions? [intriguing, but probably irrelevant, is the fact that half of the Democrats on that committee have Yale degrees, while only one Republican does).

2)  Will the demeanor of the participants affect the way they are viewed? Commentary will probably run heavy on how the two witnesses "looked," and that is in part because there are so few other reference points in a hearing that was not preceded by an investigation and does not include other witnesses.

3)  Will Judge Kavanaugh make enough reasonable concessions (ie "I drank too much in high school and I regret that") to seem credible? It seems that such admissions are outside of the Trump playbook, but probably being urged by his counsel.

4)  I will also be watching Dr. Ford to see if she ties in corroborating evidence to support her points-- for example, that she told others about the alleged events long before Kavanaugh was nominated. If she can do that successfully, it could be convincing to many people.

5)  It would seem that Dr. Ford, who is a psychology professor, would have an advantage in a spectacle that is largely about psychology. She actually has four degrees in psych, from UNC, Pepperdine, USC, and Stanford. Will that be a factor?

6)  Mostly, though, it will be a show trial. If it was meant to reveal truth, there would be an investigation and other witnesses, including Mark Judge.

I don’t know about you, but I cannot help thinking what if Dr. Ford was Dr. Mom or Dr. Nobody or your friendly cashier at the local KFC? Who didn’t go on to get degrees from UNC and Pepperdine and USC and Stanford after finishing high school. How would all this play out? Not in the Trump playbook of invectives, but in the playbook of the almighty committee of half Yale graduates and half so old and set in their ways, they’d need to be carbon dated.
I agree with Marta, although Dr. Blasey Ford's psych knowledge definitely served her well this morning as she backed up her statements about remembering parts of a traumatic incident with the neurological reasons for those vivid memories. And she used "sequelae" as if everyone knows what that means! Not the norm for 99% of assault survivors, but in this instance it gives her some added credibility (to me).
I can't stand him crying about his dad when he talks about why he keeps calendars. He is not even alleged to be a victim. Every single one of these women is wrong?
I understand why Kavanaugh is angry, but in what I saw today he went beyond anger at the ruin of his reputation. He revealed his true partisan colors, and it bodes badly for the future if he's confirmed. He was openly hostile and blatantly disrespectful to the Democrats as they were questioning him, not bothering to show any semblance of respect. I forgot I was watching someone who's the Supreme Court pick. He showed how utterly partisan he is.
The anger he displayed was quite shocking. Also blaming the Clinton's in his opening statement seemed odd.
In the end, I don't see clear evidence that one of these people is truthful and one is lying. On the other hand, after ten days, the accuser (although credible in my mind) did not produce ANY corroborating evidence. The accused vehemently and consistently claimed innocence. For me, therefore, the proceeding has been a wash, a push, a tie. To withdraw my support from Judge Kavanaugh, I would have needed at least a preponderance of evidence that the accuser was telling the truth and the accused was lying and indeed guilty of the accusation. I'm just not there.
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