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JOAN VENNOCHI

Brett Kavanaugh and the tears of a bully

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.

It was supposed to be he-said, she-said. Not she-said, he-cried.

But don’t be fooled: They were the tears of a bully. Brett Kavanaugh was as mad as a privileged white man can be at the prospect of losing a coveted seat on the US Supreme Court to a girl who wasn’t part of his Georgetown Prep social circle back in their high school days. How dare someone like that mess up the careful career plan he built upon fealty to Republican smear tactics?

Alternating between sobs and flashes of white-hot rage, Kavanaugh went before the Senate Judiciary Committee and poured every ounce of emotion he could summon into saving his nomination. He vehemently denied the allegation of sexual assault made by Christine Blasey Ford, along with other allegations of sexual misconduct that have surfaced over the past few days. He blamed the attacks on Democrats, generally, along with “pent-up anger” over the 2016 election, and “revenge on behalf of the Clintons” — presumably because of his role in the Ken Starr investigation of Bill Clinton. Calling the questions about his integrity a national disgrace, he told the committee, “You have replaced advise and consent with search and destroy.”

It was reminiscent of Clarence Thomas and his defiant charge of a “high-tech lynching” after Anita Hill said that Thomas sexually harassed her — plus major-league blubbering. Emotion flowed when Kavanaugh talked of his father’s calendars, which are the reason, he said, he kept his own and saved the one from 1982 that notes nothing about the gathering described by Ford. He also teared up at the thought of not being able to teach law or coach basketball again, because of allegations against him.

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Earlier in the day, Ford’s testimony about an alleged sexual assault in the early 1980s by Kavanaugh was dignified, powerful, heart-wrenching, and totally credible.

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It’s true Ford didn’t remember details of time and place, and she was honest about acknowledging those lapses. But she did remember, with chilling recall, the laughter, “the uproarious laughter” between Kavanaugh and his high-school buddy Mark Judge at the time of the attack. “I was underneath one of them while the two laughed. Two friends having a really good time with one another,” she said.

And she was absolutely certain of the identity of her attacker.

“With what degree of certainty do you believe Brett Kavanaugh assaulted you?” asked Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois.

“One hundred percent,” Ford replied.

The professor from California nailed her appearance before the committee. The cloud her testimony casts on Kavanaugh’s character should be enough to end his nomination to the Supreme Court.

Republicans could easily find another conservative to undermine Roe v. Wade. If they stick with Kavanaugh, he will have cried his way onto the highest court of the land.

And they say women are too emotional?


Joan Vennochi can be reached at vennochi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @Joan_Vennochi.