Saturday, September 29, 2018

Attempts to Discredit Dr. Christine Blasey Ford

When Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's anonymous accusations of sexual abuse by Brett Kavanaugh in the 1980s were first revealed, Republicans, so sure of their power, were slow to realize the danger their candidate for the Supreme Court was in. Denials, support for Kavanaugh, dismissals of Ford, flooded the media. Republicans insisted that the Committee vote would happen as scheduled.

It seemed that their strategy to ram this nominee into the Supreme Court would work. But in a time when news cycles spin at the speed of light, this story was no different. Within days Dr. Ford had gone public. The majority of Republicans stood by their man, but a couple realized the danger they were in come re-election time and backed down enough to call for a delay to the vote.  Given the GOP's slim majority in the Senate, it was enough. Both parties were invited to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but only under very restrictive terms. No FBI or Senate investigation into the allegations, and no corroborating or character witnesses.

Mr. Kavanaugh was fine with that, but Dr. Ford wasn't. She said she would testify if the FBI reopened their investigation into Kavanaugh's background, specifically to investigate her allegations. They could, but not without White House approval, which was withheld, under the pretext "the FBI doesn't do that". Which isn't true. They do. It's their job. And they have done it, in exactly the same circumstances, when Anita Hill accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.

Fully aware of the falsity of the president's assertion, nonetheless Republicans vetoed the investigation, saying they were willing to give Dr. Ford a chance to speak, but that if she didn't want it, the Committee vote would go ahead. As if she were some kind of sulky schoolgirl who had been offered cake but didn't want it.

Her loss, then. In a feeble attempt to justify their lack of interest in getting to the truth, and to placate those of their constituents who find Dr. Ford's allegations credible, mutterings were made about "mistaken identity". It was so long ago, Dr. Ford could easily have forgotten who really abused her. That theory was debunked instantly by a number of credible sources. NYT columnist Charles Blow addressed the issue when he spoke frankly on CNN about his experience with abuse.

Enter Ed Whelan, friend and slavish fan of Judge Kavanaugh, and, ironically given his behavior in the last few days, president of the conservative think tank the Ethics and Public Policy Center.  Assisted by a prominent Virginia PR firm, CRC Public Relations, Whelan produced "evidence" that Dr. Ford's abuser was a high school classmate of Kavanaugh's, namely a photograph showing how allegedly similar the two friends looked (they don't), and floor plans of the house Whelan identified as the location of the abuse. He included the name of the new suspect.

Dr. Ford rejected the claim immediately and it was exposed as pure fabrication. Tail between his legs, Wheelan retracted his allegations, and apologized  obsequiously. Too little too late for the innocent man.

Republicans, originally excited by Whelan's story, now distanced themselves from him as fast as they could. Then news broke that Garrett Ventry, who was on a leave of absence from CRC to work help lead the Senate Judiciary's response to Dr. Ford's allegations against Mr. Kavanaugh, was himself fired from a previous job in part because of an allegation of sexual misconduct.

Take a moment to think about that. Both Whelan and Ventry have been hustled off stage.