I mainly use this blog to comment on things and events I can claim to have some expertise in. American politics is just about one of those areas, having studied them, written about them and lived there for fairly long periods; but on American topics I usually defer to my far better-informed transatlantic friends. On the other hand, the present situation in America is obviously of some indirect relevance to people in other countries – direct if Trump ever starts a trade war – and the recent Kavanaugh hearing was a world event, televised in toto here in Britain, almost as a form of ghoulish entertainment.
My main question during that hearing was this. Why on earth did Judge Kavanaugh not admit to, and apologise for, at least some of the schoolboy indiscretions on his charge sheet? It is simply unbelievable that any boy could have passed through an élite American private school in the less enlightened 1980s without getting drunk quite a lot, occasionally behaving riotously, and making inappropriate advances to girls. Many adolescent boys, in the environment of that time and that society, do things they will be ashamed of afterwards. As it happens, and for what it’s worth, I believe that Kavanaugh’s ‘advances’ to Christine Blasey Ford must have gone further than merely ‘inappropriate’. But if he had denied that, but admitted some of the rest, his credibility would surely have been enhanced. And it’s possible that even if he had acknowledged the particular assault on Dr Ford, but had shown genuine contrition for it, he might have got away with that. Denying everything however, and against the evidence of many of his contemporaries, stretches the bounds of believability to breaking point.
All of which means that he lied in any case, irrespective of the main charge, and not thirty years ago but only the other day; which is not a good character trait to take with you into the higher judiciary. As neither is the extreme political prejudice he displayed during his rants – which was clearly why the President fell in behind him after the hearing. They mirrored his own prejudices, and style. These are the main reasons – not the Ford affair; or even that unfortunate, nose-crinkling sniff – why he should certainly not become a Supreme Court justice.
People can be forgiven for youthful indiscretions. I know that I’m not the person I was at the age of 17. But obvious lying at a job interview can’t be excused. Unless, of course, you’re one of Trump’s men.