I had hoped to avoid writing about the Brett Kavanaugh affair until after the hearings ended but so many things happened yesterday that I felt obliged to get them out of the way first to set the stage for today. On Fox News on Monday, Kavanaugh described himself in almost saintly terms.
“When I was in high school – and I went to an all boys Catholic high school, a [Jesuit] high school, where I was focused on academics and athletics, going to church every Sunday at Little Flower, working on my service projects, and friendship, friendship with my fellow classmates and friendship with girls from the local all girls Catholic schools.
And yes, there were parties. And the drinking age was 18, and yes, the seniors were legal and had beer there. And yes, people might have had too many beers on occasion and people generally in high school – I think all of us have probably done things we look back on in high school and regret or cringe a bit, but that’s not what we’re talking about.”
The exposure of his lies began almost at once.
The drinking age in Maryland was raised to 21 when Kavanaugh was 17, so that is one falsehood. Then there is the sworn affidavit by Julie Swetnick about her experiences with Kavanugh and his group of drunken and lecherous friends, She said “Kavanaugh had been present at house parties where women were plied with alcohol and drugs and then repeatedly raped. Swetnick claimed to have been at “well over 10” parties Kavanaugh attended and saw him “drink excessively at many of these parties and engage in abusive and physically aggressive behavior towards girls.” Josh Marshall describes Kavanaugh’s other recent lies
Kavanaugh’s classmates at Yale are also sickened by his claims of living a virtuous life and are speaking out.
Liz Swisher, who described herself as a friend of Kavanaugh in college, said she was shocked that — in an interview focused largely on his high school years and allegations of sexual misconduct — he strongly denied drinking to the point of blacking out.
“Brett was a sloppy drunk, and I know because I drank with him. I watched him drink more than a lot of people. He’d end up slurring his words, stumbling,” said Swisher, a Democrat and chief of the gynecologic oncology division at the University of Washington School of Medicine. “There’s no medical way I can say that he was blacked out. . . . But it’s not credible for him to say that he has had no memory lapses in the nights that he drank to excess.”
Lynne Brookes, who like Swisher was a college roommate of one of the two women now accusing Kavanaugh of misconduct, said the nominee’s comments on Fox did not match the classmate she remembered.
“He’s trying to paint himself as some kind of choir boy,” said Brookes, a Republican and former pharmaceutical executive who recalled an encounter with a drunken Kavanaugh at a fraternity event. “You can’t lie your way onto the Supreme Court, and with that statement out, he’s gone too far. It’s about the integrity of that institution.”
Other alumane of Holton-Arms, Christine Blasey Ford’s school, have come forward about sexual assault by the boys of Kavanaugh’s school and why they remained silent for so long. They describe an utterly disgusting culture. They feel infuriated that Kavanaugh could so blatantly misrepresent what life then was really like.
To many Holton students, Ford’s description of the party she attended in 1982 felt familiar. Beginning in middle school, there were parties with young men from surrounding schools like Georgetown Prep, Landon, and St. Albans every Friday and Saturday night, at big houses set back from winding, dimly lit streets. There was money to get alcohol. Parents were absent. The homes had pools and movie theaters and sweeping yards. They were teenagers in a candy store. “It was a highly professional culture of parents, many of whom self-selected those schools to be a big babysitter . . . a lot of them just parked the kids and left,” one 1980s Landon alum who socialized with Ford in high school told me. A woman who graduated from Holton in 1988, and lived down the street from Ford, recalled students from the boys’ schools pulling up to parties with duffel bags full of alcohol. “I never went to a party where there wasn’t alcohol; it was a drunk fest,” she said. “You’re living in a bubble where a lot of the families are exceedingly wealthy, a lot of parents are not tuned in to their kids, and, a lot of times, parents were away and the mice would play.”
In interviews with more than a dozen alumni from area schools who graduated between the mid-1970s and the early 2000s, I repeatedly heard stories of parties spiraling into debauchery, with drunken, unsupervised teenagers coupling off with various degrees of privacy. Because the students came from a handful of schools, it was not uncommon for the party’s host to be a stranger. Indeed, many of the people I spoke with said they couldn’t necessarily pinpoint a particular house or give an address. “I remember my parents would say, ‘Whose party are you going to?’ And I’d say, ‘I have no idea,’” the Holton alumni who graduated in ’88 told me. “You’d just drive there and look for all the cars.” Another Holton alum, who was on the cheerleading squad with Ford, told me that the squad’s captains warned them not to go anywhere without two other people, and that if they were alone and drunk with local boys, the boys would say something had happened, whether it did or not. “This was like an organized sport,” she recalled. “It was very clear that they would pick out a girl and start complimenting them.”
Many witnessed moments like the one Ford described, or heard about them, or experienced them firsthand. “When I first read the story on Sunday, I said, ‘Of course this happened,’” a woman who graduated from Holton in the early 2000s told me. “This happened so much that there was nothing difficult to believe about what she’s saying. How could anyone doubt this? It felt personal to a lot of us, because her story is so similar to a lot of ours, and so the attacks on her felt personal.” (Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied the claims against him. “I have never sexually assaulted anyone—not in high school, not ever,” he told Fox News on Monday. “I’ve always treated women with dignity and respect.”)
Yet more charges emerged late last night (see here and here). Meanwhile Mark Judge, Kavanaugh’s close friend and drinking buddy in high school, went into hiding but was tracked down by reporters and refuses to talk to them or testify to the senate committee though his ex-girlfriend is willing to do so.
Donald Trump has decided that Kavanaugh’s defense team is not vigorous enough and has decided to take on the job himself. That should be good.
And just when you thought Lindsey Graham had gone as low as he could go, he went even lower. And so we go to the hearings at 10:00am today, where the cowardly Republican senators on the committee will cower behind the female prosecutor they have brought to do the questioning because they are afraid of being shown to be the sexist, rape-apologist, pigs they truly are. While Graham talks tough on Twitter, he is afraid to speak during the hearings. What a craven bunch.
Meanwhile Seth Meyers takes apart Kavanaugh’s Fox News interview.