Kavanaugh’s angry opening statement shows he has the wrong temperament

“Thoroughly vetted.”
“Thoroughly vetted.”
Image: Reuters/Jim Bourg
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Brett Kavanaugh began his testimony before the Senate judiciary committee with an opening statement that he delivered sounding furious, looking angry, and revealing an erratic emotional state.

Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee denied Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations angrily in a voice raised to a yell, telling senators they turned his confirmation process into a circus, then tearfully revealed that his daughters said, “We should pray for that woman.”

It was a stark contrast to Ford’s testimony earlier in the day, which was polite, conciliatory, calm, professorial as she explained the psychological effects of the trauma she experienced. She did not sound angry and expressed a desire to perform a civic duty, despite the difficulties.

Kavanaugh made his statement extremely personal. He revealed a sense of entitlement to the position for which he’s been nominated and a temperament that indicates he should not be a Supreme Court justice.

He also sounded disingenuous: “I’m not questioning that Dr. Ford may have been sexually assaulted by some person at some place at some time.” He discredited her even as he claimed to acknowledge that she may have been assaulted.

To support his denials, Kavanaugh turned to his 1982 calendar, “a diary of sorts,” he said, from his high school years. “The calendars are obviously not dispositive on their own,” he noted. Between sniffles, he listed the events he spent his time on in the summer in question and the names of his friends, boys and girls. “People have noted that I didn’t mark when I went to church,” Kavanaugh conceded. “Going to church on Sundays was like brushing my teeth, automatic. Still is.”

He was just a regular American kid, he said. ”I liked beer. I still like beer…There is a bright line between drinking beer—which I gladly do—and sexual assault, which is a violent crime,” Kavanaugh said. It seemed an attempt to implicate all beer-drinking Americans in the assault allegations against him when he warned that the nation is imperiled if liking and drinking beer is now equated with sexual assault.

Kavanaugh was unable to maintain his composure. As he did during his Fox News interview earlier this week, he attested to his virginity during high school. This is presumably meant to indicate that he could not have assaulted Ford, though she didn’t say he succeeded in raping her, only that he drunkenly attempted to and that he covered her mouth so that she could not breathe. 

The nominee spoke of his friendships with girls and women, reading messages and texts of support. “Brett, you’re a good man, a good man, a good man,” he read. “I thank all my friends. I love all my friends.” He emphasized his close relationships with women at work and in his life.

Intermittently, he sniffled and wept and was unable to contain his emotions. That he felt bad for himself was evident. It was not at all clear that he has the fitness or the composure to sit on the highest court in the land.