Have you ever been at a party, engaged in conversation with someone, and you suddenly notice that while they're talking to you, their attention has strayed to an attractive person standing behind you, and they're now looking over your shoulder rather than at you?
That's how I felt watching today's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing featuring Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who Ford has accused of assaulting her sexually back in 1982.
It was can't-miss drama for a political junkie like me. I watched most of the proceedings on TV. There was everything: suspense, tears, ups and downs between the D's and R's, anger, self-righteousness, the whole gamut of human emotions.
What didn't happen was what I'd hoped would happen: a Perry Mason moment (showing my age) where one of the Democratic Senators asks Kavanaugh a leading question, gets his answer, then whips out a piece of paper and says, "But Judge Kavanaugh, I have a sworn affidavit here from a classmate of yours that directly contradicts what you just said."
Sadly, because I believe Ford is telling the truth about being assaulted by Kavanaugh, the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee got in some good punches, but there wasn't anything close to a knock-out blow.
Which helps to explain my main theme in this post -- why everybody was talking to someone else at the hearing. They knew that today's hearing was going to end pretty much in a draw (both Ford and Kavanaugh said they were 100% sure that he did, or didn't, do what Ford accused him of).
This sort of redirected speech is common in politics, being a form of doublespeak, but I've never seen it as much in evidence as was the case in today's hearing. I'll discuss the doublespeakers one by one.
Now, the person who was most honest and direct was Christine Blasey Ford. If she was speaking to somebody else, it was her own self. Ford chose her words carefully. She struck me as wanting to speak her truth about the sexual assault with the care that a traumatic event like this deserved.
This made Ford the most believable person in the hearing room. I never felt like she was doing anything other than telling her story as accurately as possible. She was unfailingly polite and deserves a medal for having the courage to come forward with her accusation against Kavanaugh.
Brett Kavanaugh, on the other hand, pretty clearly was speaking to Donald Trump, even though his remarks were ostensibly addressed to the Judiciary Committee. His rough and tumble opening statement was very Trumpian in tone: angry, political, accusing.
It was like Kavanaugh was screaming to Trump, "Don't pull my nomination just because Ford was believable when she said she was sure I sexually assaulted her. Like you, I'm a street fighter. Stick with me." Kavanaugh came across as a guy who, if he could be this angry while sober, could be an even bigger asshole when drunk.
But Trump tweeted after the hearing that he was pleased with Kavanaugh's over-the-top testimony, so even though it may not have played well in living rooms across America, Kavanaugh connected with the one guy who could easily kill his nomination.
Likewise, Senator Lindsey Graham was speaking to Trump's base when he echoed Kavanaugh's ridiculous claim that the three women who have accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct were part of a vast left-wing conspiracy, aided and abetted by the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee.
Out in the hall during hearing breaks, and later during Kavanaugh's testimony, Graham seemed to be trying to outdo Kavanaugh on the It's a Democratic Outrage! front. It's likely that Graham also was trying to curry favor with Trump, as this is Job #1 for any Republican seeking re-election and hoping to fend off a primary opponent on the candidate's right flank.
Judiciary Committee Democrats were less aggressive toward Kavanaugh than I expected. Probably this is because they were speaking to Senate Republicans as much, or more, than to Kavanaugh. The only hope of stopping Kavanaugh from joining the Supreme Court is if at least two Republicans join every Democrat in opposing his nomination next Tuesday.
So the big theme of committee Democrats was "Let's have the FBI investigate the three allegations against Kavanaugh; what's the harm in waiting a week or so for the investigation to produce its findings?"
If only one Republican on the committee went along with this, tomorrow's Judiciary Committee vote wouldn't produce a positive recommendation to the full Senate, and an investigation might turn up some damning evidence against Kavanaugh.
Speaking of damning evidence, Democratic hopes of stopping Kavanaugh's nomination may rest on Michael Avenatti's claim that his client, Julie Swetnick, observed Kavanaugh engaging in "highly inappropriate conduct" with girls in the early 1980s. Avenatti is Stormy Daniels' attorney, and has ambitions to be the Democratic presidential nominee in 2020.
If Avenatti is able to produce solid evidence in the next few days that what Swetnick says is correct, this would be a big blow to Kavanaugh's ability to get 51 votes in the Senate. But if Avenatti can't back up what he's been saying in cable news interviews, this would hurt his already slim chance of being the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee.
Oh, I'm sorry. I thought for sure that I dialed Salem Political Snark.
My rotary phone doesn't dial up the World Wide Web like it used to.
Somehow I ended up with Washington something-er-other....
Posted by: Skyline | September 27, 2018 at 09:56 PM
Nice analysis. I didn't have the heart to watch, so thanks. Christine
Posted by: Christine Chute | September 28, 2018 at 07:47 AM
It is amazing how two people can see the same proceedings and see it so entirely differently. One saw a blue hammer and the other saw an orange rake. Actually, it's disturbing to me that these perceptions are so divided. How can this be? Are people really this prejudiced and blinded by their particular political predilections? I think so. Too bad.
I don't want to get into the minutiae of deconstructing the analysis above. I'm lazy and don't want to put much effort into something few people will read.
I will say the interrogator who questioned Ford threw softballs. I think the instructions to her were not to be too tough because Ford is fragile and may break down. Or, maybe the woman was just incompetent. Anyway, I think this is why Ford came across as "credible". However, there was no such kid gloves treatment of Kavanaugh and he acquitted himself well.
Ultimately, we will never know what did or didn't happen 36 years ago, but what has recently happened in these confirmation proceedings was clearly stated by the outraged Sen. Lindsay Graham. The whole thing is a ridiculous farce, reprehensible and a low point in American politics.
But just for giggles and grins let's say a drunken Kavanaugh groped Ford on a bed at a party when they were teenage kids 36 years ago. Is this enough to undo the exemplary, by all accounts, life he has led since then? Does that make him a bad judge now, unfit for the Supreme Court? Is this bad enough to drag him and his family through a cesspool of politically motivated accusations and manipulations by a broken political system filled with power hungry and desperate politicians who will stoop to anything to get their way? Does a good man who has lived an accomplished, respected and honest life deserve this treatment?
Posted by: tucson | September 28, 2018 at 10:48 AM
Kavanaugh had to suffer SIX FBI background checks for the various positions he's had. Nothing disqualified him. Now, days before a vote, the entire DemocRAT Party comes out and acts as if Kavanaugh were a mass murderer. Why? They're afraid this "moderate" will recalibrate the court towards the right -- which will NOT happen. Historically, supreme court justices tend to tack LEFT -- never right, and Kavanaugh is a known centrist.
Posted by: Richard Dunton | September 28, 2018 at 01:16 PM
Now you see him, then...BOOF...he's gone.
Posted by: Kurt | September 28, 2018 at 04:51 PM
for beer and
He sniffed all the time
I guess he doesn't take often a triple dose
FBI sees it too
Grahams nose rather red too
and some others I m not sure of
Medical Watch Dog; Medellin ,
Posted by: stephina | September 30, 2018 at 03:33 AM
Body language expert analyses Ford testimony. There have been other body language analyses of the testimony. This one may differ:
Posted by: Burt | September 30, 2018 at 08:46 PM
Before giving any credence to Burt's youtube link, one may want to consider what one sees on the Twitter page of the so called "body language expert". "Dr'" Bombard states: "Yes this is Bombard's Body Language's Twitter 😋. I put DR. there because colleges hand them out to idiots. Only difference, not an idiot & i didnt pay for it". Also, a commenter states: " You are a fraud. You have zero credentials. You are a liar. I am going to find a way to take legal action against you. You are a republican operative without any scruples. You are a lying fascist piece of filth. Why don't you list and address. Be looking for you no matter where you hide. Your time is up. No more making money from idiots."
Posted by: Kurt | September 30, 2018 at 10:55 PM
Kurt.. It's just an opinion by a person who studies body language. No worries. Nothing to get bent out of shape or defensive about. However, I am sure this "idiot" would be described as 'brilliant' by you had she found that Ford appeared stable, credible and honest.
Posted by: tucson | October 01, 2018 at 03:37 PM
You are absolutely right tucson. We now live in an authoritarian state where only the wishes of our rulers matter. There is really no reason to care anymore. Truth has no meaning. The absurd analyses of someone who misrepresents as a doctor might as well be accepted as fact and that person should not be prosecuted for the crime of posing as a doctor because when there is no truth, then there can be no rule of law. What was I thinking? We should ignore all of the blatant lies spewed from Kavanaugh's quivering lips. He does not know what boofing, devil's triangle, and alumnius mean. His characterization of the extent of his drinking was spot on. Even though Ford's testimony seemed honest to the Democrats and the Republicans and will probably be used in law schools as an example of credible testimony, your assertion that she lacked credibility and honesty might as well be accepted as reality. We should pretend that the hearing was actually a trial that required proof beyond a reasonable doubt (which it actually did since proof beyond a reasonable doubt does not require certainty) and not a job interview where the interviewer eventually tells the prospective employee: Don't call us, we'll call you.
Posted by: Kurt | October 02, 2018 at 03:10 AM
Prosecutor Who Questioned Ford Shreds Her Case In Five-Page Memo
October 1, 2018
Rachel Mitchell, the prosecutor who questioned Christine Blasey Ford last week during a hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote a five-page memo that was released on Sunday that outlines why she would not bring criminal charges against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Mitchell's memo notes nine significant problems with Ford's testimony and underscores that her case is "even weaker" than a "he said, she said" case.
"A 'he said, she said' case is incredibly difficult to prove," Mitchell states. "But this case is even weaker than that. Dr. Ford identified other witnesses to the event, and those witnesses either refuted her allegations or failed to corroborate them. For the reasons discussed below, I do not think that a reasonable prosecutor would bring this case based on the evidence before the Committee. Nor do I believe that this evidence is sufficient to satisfy the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard."
Here are the nine problems outlined in Mitchell's memo:
1. Dr. Ford has not offered a consistent account of when the alleged assault happened:
· In a July 6 text to the Washington Post, she said it happened in the “mid 1980s.”
· In her July 30 letter to Senator Feinstein, she said it happened in the “early 80s.”
· Her August 7 statement to the polygrapher said that it happened one “high school summer in early 80’s,” but she crossed out the word “early” for reasons she did not explain.
· A September 16 Washington Post article reported that Dr. Ford said it happened in the “summer of 1982.”
· Similarly, the September 16 article reported that notes from an individual therapy session in 2013 show her describing the assault as occurring in her “late teens.” But she told the Post and the Committee that she was 15 when the assault allegedly occurred. She has not turned over her therapy records for the Committee to review.
· While it is common for victims to be uncertain about dates, Dr. Ford failed to explain how she was suddenly able to narrow the timeframe to a particular season and particular year
2. Dr. Ford has struggled to identify Judge Kavanaugh as the assailant by name:
· No name was given in her 2012 marriage therapy notes.
· No name was given in her 2013 individual therapy notes.
· Dr. Ford’s husband claims to recall that she identified Judge Kavanaugh by name in 2012. At that point, Judge Kavanaugh’s name was widely reported in the press as a potential Supreme Court nominee if Governor Romney won the presidential election.
· In any event, it took Dr. Ford over thirty years to name her assailant. Delayed disclosure of abuse is common so this is not dispositive.
3. When speaking with her husband, Dr. Ford changed her description of the incident to become less specific:
· Dr. Ford testified that she told her husband about a “sexual assault” before they were married.
· But she told the Washington Post that she informed her husband that she was the victim of “physical abuse” at the beginning of their marriage.
· She testified that, both times, she was referring to the same incident.
4. Dr. Ford has no memory of key details of the night in question—details that could help corroborate her account:
· She does not remember who invited her to the party or how she heard about it
· She does not remember how she got to the party.
· She does not remember in what house the assault allegedly took place or where that house was located with any specificity.
· Perhaps most importantly, she does not remember how she got from the party back to her house.
o Her inability to remember this detail raises significant questions.
o She told the Washington Post that the party took place near the Columbia Country Club. The Club is more than 7 miles from her childhood home as the crow flies, and she testified that it was a roughly 20-minute drive from her childhood home.
o She also agreed for the first time in her testimony that she was driven somewhere that night, either to the party or from the party or both.
o Dr. Ford was able to describe hiding in the bathroom, locking the door, and subsequently exiting the house. She also described wanting to make sure that she did not look like she had been attacked.
o But she has no memory of who drove her or when. Nor has anyone come forward to identify him or herself as the driver.
o Given that this all took place before cell phones, arranging a ride home would not have been easy. Indeed, she stated that she ran out of the house after coming downstairs and did not state that she made a phone call from the house before she did, or that she called anyone else thereafter.
· She does, however, remember small, distinct details from the party unrelated to the assault. For example, she testified that she had exactly one beer at the party and was taking no medication at the time of the alleged assault.
5. Dr. Ford’s account of the alleged assault has not been corroborated by anyone she identified as having attended—including her lifelong friend:
· Dr. Ford has named three people other than Judge Kavanaugh who attended the party— Mark Judge, Patrick “PJ” Smyth, and her lifelong friend Leland Keyser (née Ingham). Dr. Ford testified to the Committee that another boy attended the party, but that she could not remember his name. No others have come forward.
· All three named eyewitnesses have submitted statements to the Committee denying any memory of the party whatsoever. Most relevantly, in her first statement to the Committee, Ms. Keyser stated through counsel that, “[s]imply put, Ms. Keyser does not know Mr. Kavanaugh and she has no recollection of ever being at a party or gathering where he was present, with, or without, Dr. Ford.” In a subsequent statement to the Committee through counsel, Ms. Keyser said that “the simple and unchangeable truth is that she is unable to corroborate [Dr. Ford’s allegations] because she has no recollection of the incident in question.”
o Moreover, Dr. Ford testified that her friend Leland, apparently the only other girl at the party, did not follow up with Dr. Ford after the party to ask why she had suddenly disappeared.
6. Dr. Ford has not offered a consistent account of the alleged assault:
· According to her letter to Senator Feinstein, Dr. Ford heard Judge Kavanaugh and Mark Judge talking to other partygoers downstairs while she was hiding in the bathroom after the alleged assault. But according to her testimony, she could not hear them talking to anyone.
o In her letter, she stated, “I locked the door behind me. Both loudly stumbled down the stairwell, at which point other persons at the house were talking with them.”
o Kavanaugh or Mark Judge turned up the music in the bedroom so that the people downstairs could not hear her scream. She testified that, after the incident, she ran into the bathroom, locked the door, and heard them going downstairs. But she maintained that she could not hear their conversation with others when they got downstairs. Instead, she testified that she “assum[ed]” a conversation took place.
· Her account of who was at the party has been inconsistent.
o According to The Washington Post’s account of her therapy notes, there were four boys in the bedroom in which she was assaulted.
o She told the Washington Post that the notes were erroneous because there were four boys at the party, but only two in the bedroom.
o In her letter to Senator Feinstein, she said “me and 4 others” were present at the party.
o In her testimony, she said there were four boys in addition to Leland Keyser and herself. She could not remember the name of the fourth boy, and no one has come forward.
o Dr. Ford listed Patrick “PJ” Smyth as a “bystander” in her statement to the polygrapher and in her July 6 text to the Washington Post, although she testified that it was inaccurate to call him a bystander. She did not list Leland Keyser even though they are good friends. Leland Keyser’s presence should have been more memorable than PJ Smyth’s.
7. Dr. Ford has struggled to recall important recent events relating to her allegations, and her testimony regarding recent events raises further questions about her memory:
· Dr. Ford struggled to remember her interactions with the Washington Post.
o Dr. Ford could not remember if she showed a full or partial set of therapy notes to the Washington Post reporter.
§ She does not remember whether she showed the Post reporter the therapist’s notes or her own summary of those notes. The Washington Post article said that “portions” of her “therapist’s notes” were “provided by Ford and reviewed by” the Post. But in her testimony, Dr. Ford could not recall whether she summarized the notes for the reporter or showed her the actual records.
o She does not remember if she actually had a copy of the notes when she texted the Washington Post WhatsApp account on July 6.
§ Dr. Ford said in her first WhatsApp message to the Post that she “ha[d] therapy notes talking about” the incident when she contacted the Post’s tipline. She testified that she had reviewed her therapy notes before contacting the Post to determine whether the mentioned anything about the alleged incident, but could not remember if she had a copy of those notes, as she said in her WhatsApp message, or merely reviewed them in her therapist’s office.
· Dr. Ford refused to provide any of her therapy notes to the Committee.
· Dr. Ford’s explanation of why she disclosed her allegations the way she did raises questions.
o She claimed originally that she wished for her story to remain confidential, but the person operating the tipline at the Washington Post was the first person other than her therapist or husband to whom she disclosed the identity of her alleged attacker. She testified that she had a “sense of urgency to relay the information to the Senate and the president.” She did not contact the Senate, however, because she claims she “did not know how to do that.” She does not explain why she knew how to contact her Congresswoman but not her Senator.
· Dr. Ford could not remember if she was being audio- or video-recorded when she took the polygraph. And she could not remember whether the polygraph occurred the same day as her grandmother’s funeral or the day after her grandmother’s funeral.
o It would also have been inappropriate to administer a polygraph to someone who was grieving.
8. Dr. Ford’s description of the psychological impact of the event raises questions:
· She maintains that she suffers from anxiety, claustrophobia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
o The date of the hearing was delayed because the Committee was informed that her symptoms prevent her from flying. But she agreed during her testimony that she flies “fairly frequently for [her] hobbies and … work.” She flies to the mid-Atlantic at least once a year to visit her family. She has flown to Hawaii, French Polynesia, and Costa Rica. She also flew to Washington, D.C. for the hearing.
o Note too that her attorneys refused a private hearing or interview. Dr. Ford testified that she was not “clear” on whether investigators were willing to travel to California to interview her. It therefore is not clear that her attorneys ever communicated Chairman Grassley’s offer to send investigators to meet her in California or wherever she wanted to meet to conduct the interview.
· She alleges that she struggled academically in college, but she has never made any similar claim about her last two years of high school.
· It is significant that she used the word “contributed” when she described the psychological impact of the incident to the Washington Post Use of the word “contributed” rather than “caused” suggests that other life events may have contributed to her symptoms. And when questioned on that point, she said that she could think of “nothing as striking as” the alleged assault.
9. The activities of congressional Democrats and Dr. Ford’s attorneys likely affected Dr. Ford’s account:
· See the included timeline for details.
Read More: Brett Kavanaugh Christine Blasey Ford
Posted by: tucson | October 03, 2018 at 06:56 PM