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Opinion | Martha Coakley

Angry and defiant, Kavanaugh brings heat but no light

Interim Editorial page editor Shirley Leung discusses her takeaways from the Ford testimony.
Interim Editorial page editor Shirley Leung discusses her takeaways from the Ford testimony.

Perhaps the Republicans thought she wouldn’t show up. Perhaps they believed that her demeanor would be too halting and unsure.

They hadn’t counted on the authentic and credible Christine Blasey Ford, who had no motive to fabricate when she told her husband, her therapist, the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the American public about a traumatizing assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge, when she was 15 and they were just a couple years older.

After all, the GOP had started to develop their next defense perimeter to save the Holy Grail of Justice Kavanagh. Even if this party had happened as Ford said, boys, after all, will be boys, especially when they know instinctively that they are headed to an Ivy League college and law school.


President Trump noted, about his candidate, who is squarely aligned both with Trump’s own ideas of presidential authority and the ideas of his loyal base regarding the role of women in the world, that Kavanaugh was born to be on the Supreme Court.

A few extra beers on weekends, a misogynistic fraternity and secret society, and maybe some letting off of steam with young women (as he remained a virgin!) surely couldn’t — shouldn’t — derail his rightful destiny.

Kavanaugh’s performance as a witness before Thursday was relatively scripted and guarded. On Thursday he was angry and defiant, blaming the Senate committee for a delay that allowed the other accusations to surface. False, last-minute smears were the Democrats’ fault.

He even blamed the Clintons for the “circus.” He choked up talking about his daughters, even quoting 10-year-old Liza, who wanted to pray the night before for “the woman.” He choked up talking about his dad’s calendars and then used his own calendars as his alibi.

Kavanaugh was clearly emotional, but that emotion does not give us real insight into whether he is telling the truth.


He acknowledged that he liked beer in high school and still does. He also made it clear that he will not withdraw his candidacy. Those who believe Kavanaugh will think he did well. Others may think he seemed less than judicial.

But those who believe Ford will insist on further investigation. The testimony by both Ford and Kavanaugh, as well as other allegations against the judge, cry out for the FBI to do specific investigations to provide a basis for those senators with questions about how they should vote.

Kavanaugh has hunkered down for the duration. We will see whether the Republicans do that too. What will happen with the nomination is out of his hands.

If there are enough senators who will vote to confirm Kavanaugh, we will see him on the bench soon. If not, I think we will have a Court of Eight for a while.

Ford has done her civic duty at a great personal cost. History may deem her the only one who did that duty on this day.

Martha Coakley, former attorney general of Massachusetts and onetime Democratic candidate for governor, is a partner at Foley Hoag.