Ari Fleischer asks if we’re being fair to Brett Kavanaugh

September 19, 2018 by Leonard Pitts
White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer gives his final briefing to the press corps in the briefing room on his last day as President George W. Bush's chief spokesman, July 14, 2003 in Washington, D.C.

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 protected].

© 2018 THE MIAMI HERALD DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

In The News

Health

Voting

Opinions

Becerra Confirmation Crucial to Addressing Health Inequities Deepened by the COVID-19 Pandemic
Opinions
Becerra Confirmation Crucial to Addressing Health Inequities Deepened by the COVID-19 Pandemic

The fight against the COVID-19 pandemic has become more complicated, despite the breakneck speed of vaccine development. The country is facing the dual challenges of combating the spread of new variants of the virus while coordinating a nationwide vaccination effort. The need for strong health care... Read More

How to Spot the Moderate
Opinions
How to Spot the Moderate
February 20, 2021
by How to Spot the Moderate

Can you spot the moderate? Ok, not Joe Manchin. That’s too easy. Spot the other one. You found her! Rep. Sharice Davids, the first congressional Democrat from Kansas in a decade was recently re-elected to her second term. A former mixed martial artist and lawyer, she... Read More

Stop Protecting Big Banks: End the War on Cryptocurrencies
Opinions
Stop Protecting Big Banks: End the War on Cryptocurrencies

On the day President Joe Biden was sworn into office, he ordered a freeze on the blizzard of last-minute rules that the Trump Administration tried to ram through in its final days. They were a grab bag of favors to Republican special interests and big business... Read More

Macron is Becoming Everything Trump Should Have Been
Opinions
Macron is Becoming Everything Trump Should Have Been
February 16, 2021
by Rachel Marsden

The gatekeepers of the establishment status quo don’t have Donald Trump to kick around anymore. Except that Trump’s voters — more than 74 million of them — aren’t going anywhere. These are people who chose Trump despite all of the daily shenanigans, tweets and drama, and... Read More

Trump is History; it’s Biden who’s Changing America
Opinions
Trump is History; it’s Biden who’s Changing America
February 15, 2021
by Robert B. Reich

While most of official Washington has been consumed with the Senate impeachment trial, another part of Washington is preparing the most far-ranging changes in American social policy in a generation. Congress is moving ahead with President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which expands health care and... Read More

Vaccine Education is the Key to Saving Our Communities
Opinions
Vaccine Education is the Key to Saving Our Communities

All eyes are on the vaccine rollout. We’ve all observed the challenges our government has faced supplying and distributing vaccines, as well as some of the early learnings. It would be easy to point fingers or poke holes in the perceived lack of progress. We could... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top