Another Anita Hill?

This week, I thought the focus of my comments would pretty much be all about staying engaged in Democratic candidate campaigns until the November 6 election — a message that can’t be overstated. However, in the past few days another subject has taken over my thoughts: The appearance of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and her accusations of assault against Supreme Court candidate Judge Brett Kavanaugh. So, I’m going to save a few words on campaign involvement for a P.S. after this commentary.

Right now, I want to move on to the sensational accusation from Professor Ford that Brett Kavanaugh violently assaulted her when they were both in their teens. This is a very messy situation because the alleged assault occurred over 35 years ago. Judge Kavanaugh insists he didn’t do it, and the only person who Dr. Ford says witnessed the assault, Mark Judge, is unwilling to testify and is not being subpoenaed to do so by Republicans controlling the Senate hearings.

Back in 1991 when Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomaswas accused of sexual harassment by Anita Hill, an all-male Senate Judiciary Committee allowed testimony from a number of witnesses corroborating her story as well as witnesses backing up Thomas’ recollections. However, this time around, Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley, although sensitive to the “Me Too movement” and the reaction of potential female voters in November, is trying to appear to be fair – without honestly being fair. So, Ms. Ford will be allowed to testify, but nobody else.

What’s further complicating matters is that since coming forward, Professor Ford has received threatening phone calls including death threats. So, she is now hesitant to even appear in televised Senate hearings until after an FBI investigation has been conducted. And Republicans refuse to approve it. – But perhaps a hearing behind closed doors can still be held, if it’s held next Monday.

Senator Grassley and his fellow Republicans insist with Dr. Ford must appear next Monday and no later. They are getting panicky and want to keep this “he said, she said” situation moving along. A “hung jury” will provide an alibi for confirming Kavanaugh with no clear guilt ascertained. 

Christine Blasey Ford does have medical records from years past that reveal she long suffered from trauma caused by an assault she experienced as a teenager. However, if she didn’t refer to her assailant by name in any of those therapy sessions, and if, over the years, she didn’t name the assailant in conversations with any of her friends, without sworn testimony from another witness, it’s just her word against Kavanaugh’s about something that happened in the 1980’s.

Thinking about all this, I did ask myself, “should a man in his fifties who has, as far as we know, led a law abiding life as an adult, be brought down by an act of alcohol-fueled stupidity when he was 17 and his brain (like all teenage boys) was not even fully developed?”

Well, Dr. Ford says in this case a drunk Brett Kavanaugh pulled her into a room, threw her onto a bed and clamped his hand over her mouth to smother her screams as he tried to tear off her clothing. For me, that goes way beyond the boundaries of what we used to rationalize as “heavy necking.” I never heard of any guys in my circle of often foolish (and often drunk) young men acting with such violence — not in high school, college or the military. If what Dr. Ford has described is true, her assailant possessed a special seed of nastiness. Does that kind of inner violence disappear with age? One can hope so.

Now I’m wondering what happens if Dr. Ford gives even somewhat convincing testimony next week? Will the two Republican female Senators, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski be comfortable with Kavanaugh becoming our next Supreme Court Justice? Or, could some brave male Republican senator be troubled enough to break party ranks and vote against Kavanaugh? It’s true there are other judges on the Republican Supreme Court wish list that would likely fit their anti-choice, pro-gun, less government agenda. Still, the GOP will be greatly embarrassed if they lose this Federalist Society cover boy.

So, I’ll close with this ironic observation. If Judge Kavanaugh does take a seat on SCOTUS, many observers believe that Roe v. Wade could, at some point, be overturned. Or, if that doesn’t happen, the Court will systematically allow new specifically worded laws and healthcare policies in individual states to be developed that will essentially eliminate the right of “choice” in many parts of America.

We will likely never know if Brett Kavanaugh assaulted a young woman many years ago. But as a Supreme Court Justice, we do know he and his fellow right wing ideologues will soon be in a position to assault the future personal rights of millions of American women. And you can be sure some of them will experience years of personal trauma that Roe v. Wade meant to eliminate.

Nels Howard
NTDO member since 1973

P.S. In these final weeks before the mid-term election, reaching potential Democratic voters is critically imporant. I know I must do more than I have. I also know that such opportunities to help abound. Just scan the phone banking and neighborhood canvassing dates listed on our website. Take your pick and put some volunteer dates on your calendar. (And by the way, if you know a friend or two who’s frustrated with the present state of things, invite him/her to join you.)

You can also create election involvement on your own by learning if all your friends, neighbors or relatives (especially those of the Democratic persuasion) have registered to vote or brought their registration up to date after an address change. For registration info, click here.

You can even become a voter deputy registrar – it’s easy to do. Find out how here.

Or, how about providing rides to polling places for people who have no car or have trouble getting around. You can do that on Election Day or during the early voting period and it can make a measurable difference. You’ll get a nice feeling from doing it, too. — If that sounds good, call or email the NTD office and let them know when you would be available to provide transportation. — Any help you can give will make a difference.