Re/ Kavanaugh & Just-Being-17

Re/ accusation of sexual assault by the teenage Brett Kavanaugh, now 53, a federal judge and nominee for lifelong seat on US Supreme Court: A lot is being tossed around about “how much, if any, weight should be given to the teen behaviors (and experiences) of now-middle-aged & successful adults.”

For me as a psychologist focused on mature adulthood in today’s American culture, and as a citizen, a core question here is NOT he said/she said/did he do it/is she credible etc etc etc. More important is how (and whether) the adults demonstrate the markers of maturity. Top among those markers is self-awareness. That results only after and out of humble self-reflection, a demonstrated wrestling with and coming to terms with whatever is the very worst as well as the best about oneself. Then comes integration, moving forward with these shadow aspects of oneself integrated into the whole person. It is not a glib, glossy, or later-papered-over process. It’s been well-known from the Biblical Isaiah to Dante’s trip through the circles of the Inferno the journey through the abyss.

That is the very definition of mature adulthood . That — not “gee whiz, let’s get a perfect report card” — defines this “integrity” that Brett Kavanaugh so righteously claims to be defending. 

So the natural question with this Supreme Court process must be how this now-adult Kavanaugh demonstrates the humility to own, take responsibility, make appropriate amends & integrate whoever and whatever his teen self was and did. That — not “deny-deny-deny” as modeled by the man who nominated him — is what his “integrity” would look like here.

If he had it 

Kavanaugh either was the fairly documented “100 keg club” prep teen getting wasted on weekends with his “horse-playing” pals, or he wasn’t.  If he’s saying he wasn’t that, didn’t do that, he doesn’t get to also play the “just a crazy drunk teen making stupid mistakes” here. And if, as is at lease well documented enough to warrant interviewing witnesses and looking at what’s in writing, he was on occasion that drunk partying teen, he needs to own that and tell us what he has learned, what he would do differently, how he has taken that into forming the person, spouse, parent and judge he is now (he could take a chapter from his earlier boss George W on how to do this.) 

Otherwise and meanwhile, the only evidence we have about this nominee’s “integrity” is that he is still a moral, emotional, psychological 17-yr-old. With that adolescent’s undeveloped sense of ego-self too fragile to bear even his own work of self-scrutiny, he’s totally unequipped to sit in judgment of others.

NOT Supreme Court material.