Judge Brett Kavanaugh took to the telly to “make his case” with his wife, Ashley, at his side. It was a move I characterized as “exceptionally poor,” there being nothing to gain by playing a judge on TV and much to lose in the infinite ways a word, a glance, a bad response, can be exploited by people antagonistic to you. Don’t give your enemies ammunition, and Kavanaugh and spouse not being practiced pols or TV celebrities were ill-equipped to pull off a Bill and Hillary show.
Still, he did it.
Surprisingly, Martha MacCallum’s questions, hardly hardball, still were too challenging for Kavanaugh. Is it not the epitome of sincerity to repeat the talking point of “fair process” over and over?
MS. MacCALLUM: So in terms of the process now and what happens now, when you look at how all of this — where all this generated from, do you have thoughts? Is this about Roe v. Wade? Is this about people who initially right off the bat said they wanted to see you never take the spot on the Supreme Court? Where’s all this coming from?
JUDGE KAVANAUGH: I just want a fair process where I can be heard.
MS. MacCALLUM: You don’t have any thoughts on what’s — where this is coming from?
JUDGE KAVANAUGH: I just want a fair process where I can be heard, defend my integrity, defend the integrity of my family. I’ve — I’m telling the truth.
Was this question far too difficult for a person who is expected to possess the intelligence necessary to serve on the Supreme Court to muster a viable response, such as “I have no magic powers to see into the minds of other people, to know whether they are ill-motivated or mistaken, but I can state with absolute and unequivocal certainty that I did not do what I’m accused of doing”? Or he can just repeat the non-responsive, “I just want a fair process where I can be heard, defend my integrity.”
But if Chief Justice John Roberts wasn’t banging his head on his desk upon learning that someone who hoped to sit on the big bench defended his “integrity” on primetime in the first place, this no doubt established the level of personal information that would be desired of someone with the gravitas to decide big legal issues.
MS. MacCALLUM: So you’re saying that through all these years that are in question, you were a virgin?
JUDGE KAVANAUGH: That’s correct.
MS. MacCALLUM: Never had sexual intercourse with anyone in high school?
JUDGE KAVANAUGH: Correct.
MS. MacCALLUM: And through what years in college since we’re probing into your personally life here?
JUDGE KAVANAUGH: Many years after. I’ll leave it at that.
Not only does this fail to address the accusation, but if ever there was a bit of yuck to be had, this was it. Should there be a movie about Judge Kavanaugh’s life, will it be titled “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”? It’s one thing to deny an accusation of sexual impropriety, but nobody wants to know this much about a justice.
Supporters of Judge Kavanaugh lauded his decision to take to the air, to protest his innocence to the millions of Fox viewers, notwithstanding the fact that they were likely to already believe, just as his antagonists believed the opposite. What are the chances anyone’s made-up mind will change because of this?
Fans don’t need convincing. Kavanaugh had already denied the allegations, and denying it again makes the denial neither stronger nor weaker. But the possibilities of something going wrong were manifest. Even if he performed perfectly, the likelihood of blowback by his haters militated against this decision.
Did it turn out beneficial or damaging for Kavanaugh? That remains to be seen. His supporters will almost certainly say it was great, while his detractors will say the opposite. What else would they do? But the outcome doesn’t change whether the decision to do the interview was a poor choice. That one skirts disaster doesn’t mean one should have risked disaster to begin with.
But now we know that Kavanaugh was a virgin beyond college. Wonderful.