For Dr. Blasey Ford, Some Reflections and Wishes

Pretty awful, these latest, precedent-defying efforts by Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans   to ramrod high court nominee Brett Kavanaugh through a sham hearing on Monday—minus the standard reopening of the FBI background check process in light of new information that has bearing on the nominee’s character.

Many, many far wiser and more informed people than I have noted and elaborated on the myriad ways this thing stinks and is stacked against the citizen bringing forward that new information, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

Under such bullying, and by an all-male cadre of high-level lawmakers (who have a sacred duty to protect citizens like her), it would be completely understandable were she to withdraw her report, decline to testify given the lack of basic independent agency fact-finding, and find a way to return to what by all accounts is a productive and rewarding private life. This would in no way be a negative reflection on her or her report on her experience of the nominee.

And yet—potential outcomes of the nomination process notwithstanding (but  especially if Cavenaugh were confirmed anyway)—a big part of me believes empowerment, speaking truth to bullies, still matters, is freeing for the one who claims it, whatever the outcome. My hope for Dr. Blasey Ford, her having come this far, is to find the strength to go a little farther, to not let them silence her or run her off via a rigged hearing. (This Committee has an all-too-visible track record of this kind of silencing, having done so to Angela Wright and the other Clarence Thomas victims who corroborated Anita Hill’s testimony.) I would love for her to find her voice and speak, not merely in spite of, but even because the hearing is rigged against her. To do it, anyway.

But whether Dr. Blasey Ford does or doesn’t appear without an independent background check-reopening  having been done, there is plenty the Committee needs to refocus on with Kavanaugh and call every obviously relevant witness.

Just for starters:

1) The Committee need to question Kavanaugh thoroughly about his well-documented “wasted” drinking behavior that he has widely bragged and joked about in print and public, since his teens. Judge Kavanaugh (and the American public) must be shown the examples of this from various sources and his own speeches.(This has been even more thoroughly described in writing and interviews over the years by his friend, Mark Judge, the other witness Blasey names as having been present at the alleged sexual assault incident. So far the Committee, in its so-called truth-seeking here, has refused to call him or any other witnesses besides Dr. Blasey Ford and Judge Kavanaugh to testify under oath.)

2) Specifically the Committee members need to ask Kavanaugh if these accounts about the heavy underage drinking are true. (And if he says they are not, why has he joked and bragged about them, even in recent years and on tape?) If the drinking tales are true, how he can be so “categorically” sure of what he ever did or did not do while in a state of passing-out/puking drinking? How would he even know the next day what or where the party was, much less 36 years later to be able to so “categorically” deny ever being there? (Much more credibly to anyone interviewing witnesses about anything, the alleged victim remembers only the general vicinity and roughly likely timing of the party.) How can Kavanaugh be so arrogantly definite that he was never at a particular party—is he saying he never went to any such parties? (And again, if not, why has he laughed and bragged on tape, in yearbook etc. about those heavy-partying times?)

3) Only after getting clarity from him on these questions (and based on his previous committee hearing sessions, good luck getting straight answers from this guy on anything) are any additional statements beyond her very specific letter even needed from Dr. Blasey Ford.

4) As should be obvious, the Committee needs to call and intensely question this sidekick Mark Judge—author of a memoir titled “Wasted”—character, as well as admitting a whole bunch of written, printed and taped material for both of these guys to answer questions about. And

5) Again of course, the Committee needs to review and hear from any and all other corroborating and character-attesting statements, witnesses, and documents that come forward regarding either party in this situation.

Meanwhile, for Dr. Blasey Ford, sincere gratitude for her service to the democratic process. Whatever she decides and is able to do, Godspeed on Monday and beyond.

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.

Closer Look Can Change Things — And Us

Thanks to former NC Supreme Court Justice and Charlotte Observer contributing opinion columnist Bob Orr for this thoughtful piece, “I changed my mind about voter suppression.”

Good illustration of newShrinking: moving via thorough Journalism to Scholarship (in this case, History) and even the deepening Psychological step of challenging and changing one’s cherished positions.

New lenses, new perspectives. Refreshing things in our polarized, alt-fact times.