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Kavanaugh’s outrage is all about entitlement [Opinion]

September 30, 2018

What lurked behind Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s snarl as he addressed the Senate Judiciary Committee last week to fight for his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court?

Anger, certainly. Fear, understandably, for his future and for his family. Contempt for Democrats who, in his view, have savaged his name and desecrated a hallowed process for partisan gain.

Under it all, though — the twisted expressions, the welling eyes, the barking tone of righteous indignation — was one thing:

Entitlement.

It’s the feeling that something he deserves is being unjustly denied. The perception that highway robbery is afoot to plunder the destiny he claimed long ago.

He doesn’t seem to grasp that something cannot be stolen that is not yet his. In his mind, it is his. He had the right breeding, the right upbringing, the right religious regimen — Sunday church attendance as routine as brushing teeth! The right education — did you know? He went to Yale Law School.

In his gut, Kavanaugh may agree with the sentiments of the president who anointed him with a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land:

“You talk about central casting,” President Donald Trump said earlier this month. “He was born — they were saying it 10 years ago about him — he was born for the U.S. Supreme Court. He was born for it. And it’s going to happen.”

An attempt to question that outcome, no matter how serious or credible the reasons, is seen not as an act of civic duty, not as an essential exercise in thorough vetting, but as an outright theft.

Watching the epic political drama of last week’s Senate hearing, I came to agree with Kavanaugh’s description of it: “a national disgrace.” But for different reasons. It never should have occurred before an FBI investigation into Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a gathering decades ago in high school. Sure, the Democrats may benefit from the airing of Ford’s ordeal, but that doesn’t make her story less true.

The hearing seemed to have nothing to do with actually hearing anything. Each side came in with battle plans: the Democrats to filibuster Kavanaugh’s nomination to death, the Republicans to ramrod it through, but not before showing Ford the courtesy of feigned interest in her story so as not to seem insensitive.

Her story, told under questioning from a highly skilled sex crimes prosecutor, turned out to be compelling, her fear and trauma palpable, her credibility solid. Her certainty that Kavanaugh was her attacker? “100 percent.” But Republicans quickly dispatched with that conundrum. They didn’t call her a liar. They called her confused. And then, in so many words, they called her irrelevant.

Truth wasn’t the goal; that much was clear. As soon as the skilled prosecutor built up a bit of momentum in her questioning of Kavanaugh, Republican senators interrupted, turned the neutral prosecutor into a prop and remade the probe into a defense — a defense of a good man, himself a victim of a smear campaign organized by Democrats to block his nomination and in the process destroy his life.

“This is not a job interview,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told Kavanaugh. “This is hell.”

Kavanaugh, too, described a bleak future for himself and his family were he not confirmed for the court seat. He might not be able to teach law, or even coach girls basketball again.

That may be true for someone convicted in criminal court. A Senate confirmation hearing is not criminal court. In a criminal court, people are innocent until proven guilty. Why? Because the stakes are high: The accused stands to lose his liberty.

Kavanaugh stands to lose a job promotion.

In the criminal process, there’s an investigation, a chance for both sides to present witnesses and evidence. None of that has occurred. A criminal charge isn’t the goal here. But truth should be.

If Kavanaugh is so concerned about his reputation, why hasn’t he taken a lie detector test? Why hasn’t he asked for an FBI investigation? Why hasn’t he demanded a key witness, Mark Judge, be heard?

Ford has done all of the above.

Republicans, at the insistence of Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., finally agreed to a weeklong FBI investigation. But not before the American Bar Association and the dean of Yale Law School called for one.

This divided nation needs a thorough review of the allegations against Kavanaugh, not another charade. A Supreme Court seat doesn’t belong to a man, no matter his pedigree. It doesn’t belong to a party, no matter its power. It belongs to the people. And we are entitled to a confirmation process worthy of the position.

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