Ari Fleischer asks if we’re being fair to Brett Kavanaugh
Ari Fleischer wants to know if we’re being fair.
“How much in society should any of us be held liable today when we’ve lived a good life, an upstanding life by all accounts, and then something that maybe is an arguable issue, took place in high school? Should that deny us chances later in life?”
Fleischer, a former spokesman for President George W. Bush, raised that question Monday on Fox “News” about allegations of long-ago sexual misdeeds that have upended the confirmation hearings of would-be Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. He seemed to think he had posed a real moral puzzler.
As you are no doubt aware, Kavanaugh’s alleged misdeed was actually a crime. His accuser, a California research psychologist named Christine Blasey Ford, says that when she was 15, a drunken Kavanaugh, 17, laughing “maniacally,” pinned her to a bed at a party in suburban Maryland, groped her, ground himself against her, fumbled to remove her one-piece bathing suit and covered her mouth with his hand when she tried to scream.
“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” she told the Washington Post. Ford says she managed to escape when Kavanaugh’s friend, Mark Judge, jumped onto the bed, sending all three of them tumbling. Kavanaugh and Judge have both denied the assault.
But Ford’s account is quite credible. She first confided the alleged incident in couple’s therapy six years ago, long before Kavanaugh was tapped for the court. Her husband backs her up. So do her therapist’s notes. And Ford has passed a polygraph test administered by a former FBI agent.
It’s worth noting that she didn’t ask for any of this. In early July, Ford told her story to The Post, but refused to speak on the record. Later that month, she wrote a letter about it to her senator, Democrat Dianne Feinstein, again asking to remain anonymous. But the story leaked anyway, and it wasn’t long before reporters sussed her out and began showing up on her doorstep.
Here, then, is where we stand: After supporting senatorial candidate Roy Moore (a credibly accused child molester) Donald Trump (a confessed perpetrator of sexual assault) has nominated to the Supreme Court Brett Kavanaugh (a credibly accused attempted rapist) who would, if confirmed, serve alongside Clarence Thomas (a credibly accused sexual harasser).
It’s a confluence of facts that speak painfully and pointedly to just how unseriously America takes men’s predations against women. You might disagree, noting that the Senate Judiciary Committee has asked Ford to testify. But if history is any guide, that will prove to be a mere formality — a sop to appearances — before the committee recommends confirmation.
Yet Ari Fleischer thinks the issue here is whether or not we should hold a man accountable for some bad thing he allegedly did back in high school. Sorry, but that’s no moral puzzler. The answer is obvious: yes, particularly if what that man did is a serious crime and he has never owned up to it nor sought to make amends.
This concern for fairness to Kavanaugh is touching and all, but Ford says surviving a rape attempt “derailed me substantially” for years. She did poorly in school and was unable to have healthy relationships with men. She has since struggled with symptoms of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder and had to undergo psychotherapy. In other words, she’s been forced to grapple with the alleged incident, even if Kavanaugh has not.
Somebody ask Fleischer about the fairness of that.
Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. Readers may contact him via e-mail at email@example.com.
© 2018 THE MIAMI HERALD DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.
In The News
If you think you're angry now, wait till you read the court documents. Not that the summaries of a college cheating scandal so massive it briefly bumped Donald Trump from the "Breaking News" chyrons were not enough to make a nun cuss. Indeed, the story offered... Read More
In just a few weeks, millions of people from around the world will be weeping, screaming, pulling out their hair and issuing piteous cries of rage and grief while eating ice cream on the couch. Because in just a few weeks, HBO's series "Game of Thrones,"... Read More
PARIS -- Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney reportedly tore into current Vice President Mike Pence at a retreat on Sea Island, Georgia, last weekend in front of an exclusive audience of Republican donors. The annual retreat is sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, where President... Read More
Emboldened by their conviction that the national zeitgeist is on their side, the progressive left is taking a harder line against House Democrats reluctant to embrace their agenda. Groups like the Justice Democrats, for instance, have signaled their intent to primary moderate members who don’t espouse signature liberal... Read More
The black silhouettes posted to BlueHelp.org are immediately recognizable as police officers. Nameless and faceless, each outline represents an officer who took his or her own life. Three police suicides are listed for February 11, the day that the Kansas City Police Department announced the death... Read More
President Donald Trump neglected to mention gun violence in his State of the Union address. The following day, the congressional stalemate over what to do about the killing and mayhem played out at a House Judicial Committee hearing on gun violence. Most of the news coverage... Read More