Many Democrats and Republicans view the sexual assault allegation against Judge Brett Kavanaugh in terms of how it will affect his chances of winning Senate approval for the Supreme Court. Congressional Republicans have brushed the allegation aside and continue to support him; Democrats believe the White House should pick another nominee, or at the very least, delay the nomination process until the alleged incident is investigated — hopefully after the November election. While the battle for control of the high court continues, the alleged incident, and our reaction to it, raises thorny questions regarding how we treat reports of sexual abuse, the rights of the alleged victim and the accused and the burden of proof in these cases. Here are some thoughts from pundits and politicians on the Kavanaugh situation.
10. “Those who claim that the charges against Judge Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford are important and worth investigating and that they ultimately, if believed, invalidate his candidacy for the U.S. Supreme Court are stating that: a) What a middle-age adult did in high school is all we need to need to know to evaluate an individual’s character — even when his entire adult life has been impeccable. b) No matter how good and moral a life one has led for ten, 20, 30, 40, or even 50 years, it is nullified by a sin committed as teenager. No decent — or rational — society has ever believed such nihilistic nonsense.”
— Columnist Dennis Prager
9. “What I’d like Senate Republicans to say: They cannot know whether this accusation is true, false or somewhere in between. They do know such an act would disqualify Kavanaugh from this position and from any high office if it were true. Kavanaugh (they believe) was otherwise a perfectly acceptable nominee. But the injustice to the entire nation of confirming him if the claim is true — and the message that confirming him would send if it is — outweighs the injustice to him personally if he has been wronged.”
— Jonathan Bernstein, Bloomberg.com
8. “(H)ow in the hell is Kavanaugh supposed to defend himself? This has always been the key question the #MeToo movement has adamantly refused to answer: What should the standard of proof, or even the standard of believability, be? Should the standard be criminal liability? Presumably not, since most accusers are emerging to speak long after alleged incidents. … The standard promoted by many in the #MeToo movement is the far-too-simplistic and outright dangerous “believe all women” standard. By that standard, former President Bill Clinton is a rapist. So are the Duke lacrosse players, the members of a University of Virginia frat house and a foreign exchange Columbia University student — all of whom were exonerated.”
— Conservative pundit Ben Shapiro
7. “The thing happened ― if it happened ― an awfully long time ago, back in Ronald Reagan’s time, when the actors in the drama were minors and (the boys, anyway) under the blurring influence of alcohol and adolescent hormones. No clothes were removed, and no sexual penetration occurred.”
— Lance Morrow, Wall Street Journal, who added that the alleged assault was “ugly, and stupid more than evil.”
6. “These white men, old by the way, are not protecting women. They’re protecting a man who is probably guilty.”
— Joy Behar, co-host of The View, on congressional Republicans who support Kavanaugh.
5. “This has all the hallmarks of a set-up. If the Democrats had raised the allegation in a timely manner, its weakness would have been palpable, it would have been used for what little it’s worth in examining Kavanagh during his days of testimony, it would be put to rest as unverifiable, and we’d be on to a confirmation vote. Instead, we’re on to a delay — precisely the Democrats’ objective. They want to slow-walk Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote until after the midterms, in the hopes that they swing the Senate in their favor and have the numbers to defeat the nomination.”
— Andrew C. McCarthy, in NationalReview.com, succinctly stating conservatives’ views that this last-minute allegation is a bit suspicious.
4. “Your husband when he was president faced allegations that were not the same as this, certainly, but had connections to these kinds of old allegations from years ago. … Your husband certainly had concerns at the time that he never really had due process to defend himself from allegations like this. Have we learned anything over the years about due process not just for the accusers but also for the accused?”
— MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, in an interview with Hillary Clinton, alluding to the rape and sexual misconduct allegations made against President Bill Clinton, which the Clintons denied. Clinton responded that everyone deserves due process, “And I think that’s what Dr. Ford is asking for. She is asking for due process. She’s asking that there be an investigation.”
3. “Not only do women like Dr. Ford, who bravely comes forward, need to be heard, but they need to be believed. They need to be believed. We cannot continue the victimization and the smearing of someone like Dr. Ford. We have to create an environment where women can come forward and be heard and be listened to. I want to thank Dr. Ford. I commend her courage. I believe her.”
— Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), urging men to “step up and shut up” regarding the Kavanaugh allegation.
2. “Enough with the ‘he said, she said’” storyline. If this is he said, she said, then let’s believe the she in these scenarios. She has nothing to gain, and everything to lose. For 250 years we have believed the he in these scenarios. Enough is enough.”
— ABC News analyst Matthew Dowd
1. “Letting an accusation that is this old, this unsubstantiated and this procedurally irregular defeat Mr. Kavanaugh would also mean weaponizing every sexual assault allegation no matter the evidence. It will tarnish the #MeToo cause with the smear of partisanship, and it will unleash even greater polarizing furies.”
— Wall Street Journal editorial