The historical past is always with us to offer encouragement or caution. But the social past – the who said what to whom on Thanksgiving – is dead to us as it must be if we are to move on. The exception to this is the egregious act that we never confront and that therefore continues to fester into a cancer.
Today, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh confronted his past – specifically, the summer of 1982 – in the form of Christine Blasey Ford, who said Kavanaugh tried to rape her then in the presence of Mark Judge when they were teenagers. Ford was alternately sympathetic, empathetic, humble and quietly confident. But make no mistake about it: This is a job interview, not a trial. It was never about her. It was always about him.
And what about the man who was alternately petulant, self-pitying, angry, defiant, vengeful and, in the words of “PBS Newshour” White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor, very much like Trump, seeing in his present turmoil Democratic revenge for his role in Ken Starr’s investigation of President Bill Clinton and for President Donald J. Trump’s election.
But Kavanaugh’s situation is of his own making. Long before Ford, we were introduced to a man who has a real trouble acknowledging what some classmates in high school and college describe on the record as a serious drinking problem that could’ve been the springboard to sexual violence (toward Ford as a high school student) and sexual humiliation (of Deborah Ramirez at Yale University).
This is a man who had thousands of dollars of credit card debt for things like baseball tickets that suddenly disappeared.
This is a man who produces a calendar from 1982 but who did not know that the legal drinking age in Maryland was 21 then, not 18 as he said and he was 17 and underage in any event.
This is a man who has paraded his wife and children and put them possibly in harm’s way.
Someone who cannot confront his past has no business judging the future of others.