I decided this afternoon to watch HBO’s “Confirmation” starring Kerry Washington as Anita Hill.
It was riveting and graphic. I can’t imagine a hearing on the allegations made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford being any more so, but this being the age of Trump, anything is possible.
Like Dr. Ford, Anita Hill did not wish the information she shared with Senate Judiciary to be made public, but it was. Like Dr. Ford, Anita Hill’s story had its drawbacks: despite having been allegedly sexually harassed by now SC Justice Clarence Thomas, Hill had followed him to another job in a different government department.
Dr. Ford is alleging an attempted rape when she and Kavanaugh were teens, and she is fuzzy on some details But not the attack itself. That is vivid for her.
In her case, Hill said the harassment had subsided and, like most women, she was concerned about impacts to her career. She also believed in the objectives of the departments where she worked, and she wanted to make a difference.
So she followed Thomas to a new job and later kept in professional contact, even though he had renewed his unwanted sexual conversations.
As I write this, it is uncertain whether Dr. Ford will testify, publicly or privately, on this matter. After re-watching “Confirmation” and thinking back to the actual hearings themselves, I can understand why.
They were a media circus and a political tour de farce on the part of the Republicans. Ms. Hill was referred to in sound bites as “this woman” years before Bill Clinton uttered something similar in reference to Monica Lewinsky.
Then Senator John Danforth (R-MO) spit the words from his mouth exactly as Bill Clinton did
She was accused of using the book “The Exorcist” to make up one of her allegations against Thomas. That came from then Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY). The GOP later conjured up a signed affidavit by students that Hill had allegedly put pubic hair – the subject of the Thomas comment – between the pages of their exams.
Mercifully, that dirty GOP trick only came out in the movie.
Danforth later accused Hill of suffering from erotomania over Justice Thomas, a claim he made without benefit from any medical information he had about Anita Hill, but because some random psychologist suggested it to him.
Then Senator Joe Biden, (D-Delaware), head of the Senate Judiciary, asked Hill two days before the hearing if she would be bringing legal counsel. “When would I have done that?” she asked about the rushed hearing schedule that resembles closely what is happening in the Kavanaugh case.
”I didn’t know I needed it,” she went on.
You can be sure Kavanaugh is lawyered up, starting with WH Counsel Don McGhan, who seems to have a personal agenda in seeing Kavanaugh on the bench.
If he thinks it will redeem him somehow in the eyes of Trump for 30 hours of testimony to Robert Mueller that Trump was unaware of – it won’t.
Dr. Ford also has a lawyer, one of the top in D.C. Of course, you wouldn’t know that from the GOP sound bites because Dr. Ford’s lawyer is a woman.
But even having a top D.C. lawyer, you can understand why Dr. Ford is reluctant to testify. It will be brutal – another rape, only this time of her character, integrity, honesty and identity.
Kavanaugh, as a white man, will not have Thomas’s blustering, accusatory statement that he was being “lynched” by Hill’s allegations and members of the media and Senate Judiciary.
It was a statement that stunned at the time.
If Kavanaugh does not continue to emphatically say “no, wasn’t me, you’ve got the wrong guy,” he can fall back on “it was a long time ago, I don’t remember such an incident,” which I think he is currently testing out.
Either way, there are only three conclusions:
- He didn’t do it;
- He did it, but was potentially so drunk he cannot remember;
- He remembers exactly what he did, and he is now lying.
I wonder how far out on the limb the GOP will go this time to try to paint “this woman” as either having a political agenda or as being so traumatized she is “mixed up,” as Orrin Hatch, (R-Utah) so “generously” allowed.
Will Kavanaugh’s words, however far removed from “lynching” they may be, weigh more than hers?
Will Dr. Ford be victimized another time – as Anita Hill surely was 27 years ago – and at a time when #MeToo carries a weight of its own?
We shall have to see which way the scales tip this time.