Gene Lyons

It's probably not possible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt whether or not Judge Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted then-15-year-old Christine Blasey Ford at a high school house party back in 1982. However, that's not the issue. Kavanaugh's not being charged with a crime, but with being a creep.

 Actually, there's already ample evidence of that. But hold that thought. Nobody has a right to a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.

 No less an authority than that great American (and Kavanaugh's former boss) Kenneth Starr says that “it's too late for there to be any serious consideration at this stage.” But what's the rush? Republicans thought it was just fine to leave a Supreme Court seat vacant throughout 2016 for purely partisan reasons. There's no compelling reason for hurry now.

 Except that the longer this spectacle continues, the likelier it appears that Kavanaugh will be forced to withdraw. Gun-shy Republicans in close congressional races may insist upon it. Because, see, chances are the judge doesn't actually know if he forced the young girl into a bedroom, tried to tear off her clothes, pinned her down and clapped his hand over her mouth to silence her screams, or if he didn't.

 That's because there's plenty of circumstantial evidence that Kava-naugh spent his years at George-town Prep getting hammered: knee-walking, toilet bowl-hugging, where-am-I-and-how-did-I-get-here blackout drunk. The other fellow Ford named as her attacker was his prep school pal, a conservative opinion writer named Mark Judge.

 Judge denies everything. “It's just absolutely nuts,” he said. “I never saw Brett act that way.” However, Judge has also published two book-length memoirs of his own struggles with drugs and alcohol. His book “Wasted: Tales of a Gen-X Drunk,” features one “Bart O'Kavanaugh,” who “puked in someone's car the other night” and “passed out on his way back from a party.”

 The pseudonym gives “thinly disguised” a new meaning.

 Also, in his high school yearbook, Kavanaugh himself claims membership in something called the “Beach Week Ralph Club” and the “Keg City Club” (ralphing, of course, being slang for projectile vomiting). There are coarse sexual references, too. At Yale, Kavanaugh belonged to a fraternity notorious for carousing. As recently as 2014, he gave a humorous speech to the Yale Law School Federalist Society on the theme of “how drunk were you?” in law school.

 Answer: falling-down. Literally.

 None of this is a crime, either, but it definitely lends credibility to Ford's memory of Judge's and Kavanaugh's intoxication that awful night. She says that she only got away because while Kavanaugh was holding her down and tearing at her bathing suit, Judge piled on, causing all three to tumble to the floor. She managed to escape — locking herself in a bathroom until she heard Beavis and Butthead stumble away.

 As I say, the nominee may honestly remember none of this. But does he recall getting blackout drunk? I doubt he wants to answer that question. What people sometimes don't understand is that heavy drinkers can carry on carousing and making idiots of themselves for hours before passing out cold, often with no memory in the morning.

 Hopefully, Kavanaugh grew up. But it's his boozing the Senate needs to question him about, as much as Ford's allegation. There are high-functioning alcoholics everywhere.

 Perhaps this is all terribly unfair to Kavanaugh. But it's an important job he wants. Then, too, as Digby Parton comments in Salon, “when it comes to unfairness and character assassination, he's an expert.”

 Few in Little Rock have forgotten his years-long harassment of Vince Foster's family after the White House attorney's suicide. At the behest of the incompetent Starr, who got his own investigative tips from Rush Limbaugh, Kavanaugh made their lives miserable.

 Digby: “He spent three years and $2 million attempting to dig up dirt on the dead man, at one point demanding that Foster's teenage daughter give the authorities specimens of her hair — an apparent attempt to prove or imply that a hair found on Foster's jacket had belonged to Hillary Clinton.”

 Failing at that, Kavanaugh next served as one of Starr's chief leakers in the Monica Lewinsky affair. Bill Clinton's sexual sins brought out the Torquemada in him. “It is our job,” he wrote colleagues in Starr's office in an email, “to make his pattern of revolting behavior clear — piece by painful piece.”

 Revolting, no less. Prominent among the questions he thought the president needed to be asked under oath and on camera was this: “If Monica Lewinsky says that you ejaculated into her mouth on two occasions in the Oval Office area, would she be lying?”

 Pervert or prig? You tell me.

 Next, Kavanaugh wrote the infamous Starr Report, whose salaciousness shocked most Americans, helping Clinton get away with it and humiliating Lewinsky, whom they seemed to regard as collateral damage.

 All perfectly in character, it seems to me.


 Arkansas Times columnist Gene Lyons is a National Magazine Award winner and co-author of “The Hunting of the President” (St. Martin's Press, 2000). You can email Lyons at

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