The big news this week from the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation circus is that Christine Blasey Ford has agreed to testify before the Senate Judiciary committee next week. There are many details currently being negotiated, as they haven’t even agreed on the day of her appearance yet. Still, the testimony seems highly likely to happen.
From the viewpoint of the White House and Republican Senators, at this point anything less than a full hearing for Dr. Blasey will be terrible for their chances in the midterms. As much as conservative politicians want to push the Supreme Court to the right, they’re not willing to sacrifice their own jobs to do so.
It looks like the FBI investigation request will go unanswered, or at least won’t happen before the testimony. I’m no lawyer, but from a layman’s view it seems perfectly reasonable to request the FBI initiate an investigation into the claims against Judge Kavanaugh. It provides an opportunity to gather any available evidence, and when we’re talking about a hugely important job that lasts for a lifetime, there’s no such thing as too much relevant information (despite GOP efforts to hide from the public other papers from his legal history).
The fact Dr. Blasey has agreed to testify once the final conditions are agreed upon should not surprise anyone. I have no first-hand knowledge of Dr. Blasey’s intentions or mindset, but looking in from the outside and considering the timeline, it makes sense.
Despite shameful Republican smear efforts, it’s clear Dr. Blasey has spent decades living with a painful memory and taken previous steps to confront it. She has verified notes from therapy discussions of this incident from six years ago, which is recent enough to be aware of Kavanaugh’s stature in the legal field (and his potential candidacy for a Supreme Court seat), and yet far enough removed she’s inevitably considered what coming forward would mean.
This is an educated, intelligent woman working in a field (academia) where misogyny and protecting powerful men is as ingrained as overpriced textbooks. It’s highly likely she played through the different scenarios in her head both before sending the letter to Sen. Feinstein and again before going public.
Maybe she hoped sending the letter would be the end of the story, but had to realize it may not be. When she made the decision to go public, she may not have known exactly what she was getting into but knew it’d be intense.
What’s Dr. Blasey’s view?
Here’s my working theory, trying to look at things from Dr. Blasey’s perspective:
During many years reflecting about what happened at that party, she never saw enough to gain by coming forward. With our victim-shaming culture, especially in ‘he said, she said’ situations, the effect on her personal life and career was likely to be great with almost no chance of justice being served to him.
However, she’s long been aware of Kavanaugh’s success in the legal world, and at some point decided a person like him has no business being on the highest court in the land. Maybe she made that decision on her own, or maybe in conjunction with family, friends, people who knew about the incident from back when it happened, or her therapist. Whatever it was, she wanted to send the letter to Sen. Feinstein.
At that time, she hoped to keep her privacy for the sake of herself and her children, but knew she may face a choice to come forward. When that moment came, she did so despite knowing she’d receive personal attacks. However, this is one of those situations where no one can truly know how they’d react until it hits them.
When the blowback on her and her family was even greater than she anticipated, Monday was too soon for her to testify. No one should be forced to follow an artificial and rushed deadline when they have legitimate concerns for their children’s safety.
I think Dr. Blasey will spend the next few days coming to grips with what she’s about to experience, and what will happen if she doesn’t testify. But the type of person willing to come forward in the first place, is most likely someone who has the courage and resolve to see it through.
Dr. Blasey deserves respect and admiration for bringing this to the public’s attention, and especially to the attention of United States Senate. It’s those senators who are ultimately responsible for voting on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the nation’s highest court, and is our responsibility as citizens to watch how they treat everyone involved and hold them accountable for their actions.