In the end, the Christine Blasey Ford accusations collapsed. With them went the last effort to destroy Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the United States Supreme Court.
After thousands of hours of internal Senate and FBI investigations of Kavanaugh, as well as public discussions, open questioning, and media sensationalism, Ford remained unable to identify a single witness who might substantiate any of her narratives of an alleged sexual assault of nearly four decades past.
To substantiate her claim, the country was asked to jettison the idea of innocent until proven guilty, the need for corroborating testimony, witnesses, and physical evidence, the inadmissibility of hearsay, the need for reasonable statutes of limitations, considerations of motive, and the right of the accused to conduct vigorous cross-examination. That leap proved too much, especially when located in a larger progressive landscape of street theater antics, including Senate disruptions, walkouts, and sandbagging senators in hallways and elevators.
At the end of all things, Ford remained scarcely knowledgeable about the location and time of the assault than she was months earlier in her original anonymous complaint. Nor could she yet describe how she arrived at or left the party that may or may not have taken place in 1982. That Ford retained a crystal-clear account of having consumed just one beer and that Kavanaugh played the Hollywood role of a cruel, smirking, drunken, and privileged preppy groper were sensational accusations but not supportable.
After two weeks of the televised melodrama, the country rejected the therapeutic mindset and preferred what was logic and rational—without dismissing the chance that Ford somewhere at some time had experienced some sort of severe trauma.
In Ford’s case, that meant that being empathetic or even sincere did not translate into being credible. Logos (word) and ergon (deed) have never been synonymous. The country was finally asked to believe that because Ford told others of the assault 30 years later, that admission was de facto proof that the event really happened—and happened just as Ford described. But since when was sharing a story proof that the story therein was believable?
Serial Fibs and Fables
The Democrats’ strategy to derail Kavanagh encouraged the appearance of serial accusers—on the theory that the quantity of accusations could do what the quality of any individual testimony could not. Activists had little idea that the opposite usually occurs when such serial testimonials lack substantiation: like falling dominos one knocks down the next all the way back to the beginning. And so the wreckage of serial fibs and fables from all sorts also helped to undermine Ford’s credibility.
When the Deborah Ramirez yarn and the Julie Swetnick fantasy collapsed, along with those of accusers four, five, six, etc. (that inter alia had included charges of rape while out to sea off Rhode Island, a tag-team sexual assault with Mark Judge in the backseat of a car, and throwing ice), Ford’s narrative appeared even less credible. Instead it became just one of many fictions; the first accuser became different from the rest only in the sense of being the first rather than the only one credible.
But Ford’s problem was not just that her memory was inexact and often nonexistent about the details necessary to substantiate her quite serious charges aimed at destroying not just a nomination but the totality of an individual and his family, 36 years after an alleged teenaged encounter. Instead, the rub was that Christine Blasey Ford inadvertently became the best witness—against Christine Blasey Ford.
She had claimed that she was afraid of flying, but by her own admissions she was a frequent flyer.
She claimed the event took place in the early 1980s but also the mid-’80s—but also summer of 1982. Thus, her reported age at the time of the incident was equally fluid as a middle teen or late teen.
She swore that she had no idea that Senate investigators were willing to fly to California to interview her to accommodate her aerophobia—an offer splashed over the media for days.
Her halting answers to questions about her legal assistance funding, her past experiences with lie detector tests, the existence of any tapes or videos of her lie detector interview, and the content, accessibility, and nature of her therapist notes were either self-contradictory, illogical, or incomplete.
An ex-boyfriend turned up to question her narratives in a sworn affidavit alleging that she was demonstrably neither aerophobic nor claustrophobic—and perhaps far from being a novice in matters of taking lie-detector tests. Instead, he suggested that she had used her psychotherapy skills to coach her doppelganger friend how to massage such a test—a Zelig-like best friend who unfortunately also turned up at the hearings, and may well have hosted Ford before the Senate circus, and also allegedly may have tried to pressure one of Ford’s friends to massage her earlier condemnatory denials.
Reporters had noted Ford’s two-front-door remedy for anxiety was not necessarily a result of post-Kavanaugh stress syndrome as much a far earlier mercantile gambit to cash in on the Silicon Valley rent boom, where an extra room with a separate roadside entry meant a lucrative attached rental.
That the same ex-boyfriend claimed that an unfaithful Ford had also ripped him off for $600 in credit card bills (presumably a demonstrable accusation given banking records) did not help her case that she was a babe in the financial woods without a clue about her growing and lucrative GoFundMe account, or who in fact had paid her legal and prep bills and how—facts at odds with Ford’s adolescent demeanor of supposedly lost innocence.
So Many Stories
Senate prosecutor Rachel Mitchell might have proven in court more a depositioner than an inquisitor in her seemingly circular questioning, but in retrospect she proved a brilliant interrogator nonetheless in getting Ford to testify to a host of things that simply could not all be true—and would come back to haunt Ford in Mitchell’s damning summary of Ford’s likely untruths.
And why exactly were there so many contradictions as outlined in Mitchell’s written summation?
Christine Ford in July may have had no idea that her original anonymous accusation would ever become sensationalized publicly, much less put her into a position of trying to reconcile a number of irreconcilable narratives.
Instead, Ford had initially thought a single anonymous but poisonous letter would do the trick far better than had previous weeks of grandstanding Democratic baiting, demonstrations, and walkouts. A last-minute drive-by and anonymous charge of sexual assault would panic Republicans with the mere whiff of #MeTooism, shock and cower a goody-two-shoes, family-man Kavanaugh, and thus force a beleaguered, pre-midterm-anxious President Trump to withdraw the nomination—all without the disclosure of Ford’s name and thus without any further need to substantiate her narratives.
As a side note, in this context, I am confused by the bipartisan outrage solely directed at Senator Dianne Feinstein’s or her staff’s lowdown leaking of Ford’s name. Of course, it was unethical and so typical of the twilight years of the senior senator from California. But, then again, so is authoring an anonymous hit piece without any corroborating evidence but with misleading written assertions (such as how Ford sought “medical treatment” for the assault—without disclosing she meant marriage counseling 36 years after the fact.) It seems far less noble to charge Kavanaugh with sexual assault anonymously than to have come forward at the outset and demonstrate the charge transparently. The cloak of anonymity does even more damage to the idea of jurisprudence than does the unethical removal of it by a would-be enabler.
Yet the radical change of events that followed the disclosure of Ford’s name did lead to discovery of lots of Ford narratives with still more to come.
There was the narrative in Ford’s original letter to U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), which wound up in Feinstein’s hands.
There was the therapist-notes narrative (released in part to the press but strangely not to the committee).
There was the Washington Post interview narrative.
And there was the Senate committee testimony narrative.
By the time of the last narrative, Ford had given one too many.
Sincere, Empathetic . . . But Not Credible
Taken as a whole, Ford’s problem was not just that she couldn’t remember key details, but that she remembered all sorts of different things depending on when and to whom she related the latest narrative. More incriminatingly, her narratives seemed to change key facts about the number and sex of apparent partygoers and the vague date and general area of the assault in ways that might enhance her latest iteration of the story.
What destroys credibility is not just a lack of memory, but more so the presence of too many memories that are selective, self-serving, and mutually contradictory.
Thus far the consensus has been that Ford was sincere and empathetic, but not credible. But more and more, it appears that she was all at once not credible, quite insincere, and perhaps completely unfeeling, at least in saying so many things that were not only unprovable, but demonstrably false and sometimes quite hurtful to her friends—and all apparently for the progressive end of stopping a qualified right-leaning jurist by destroying his character and reputation.
Ford had insisted on privacy concerning her own health problems, but gratuitously questioned the veracity (and by extension selfishness) of her friend Leland Keyser’s testimony by suggesting to the world that Keyser was suffering certain with “health challenges” (specifically, “Leland has significant health challenges, and I am happy that she is focusing on herself”), that might explain their differing memories. In other words, we were presented with something like “my friend perjures herself when she contradicts me but does so because she has medical problems and focuses on her treatment for them rather than on the ‘truth’ about me.”
Finally, the new progressive Democratic Party was especially dense in all this. Senate Democrats kept clamoring for more testimonials to buttress Ford’s charges, but at each juncture of a new witness offering relevant knowledge, the very opposite effect followed of further eroding her veracity. And in a brave new world without evidence, in which “sincerity” and “empathy” mutate into “believability,” and “her truth” is synonymous with “the truth,” why would the counter-testimonies of a boyfriend or best friend be any less believable than Ford’s, much less required evidence of their own? Why call for a supplemental, one-week FBI investigation (months after Feinstein had prevented just that) when all knew that after a week a once-praised FBI would summarily be damned for not finding Kavanaugh guilty of something?
In the end, Ford was perhaps fortunate that the entire circus ceased when it did. Had investigators probed any more deeply the recent accusations of her once long-term boyfriend, the strange but multifaceted role of her lifelong but apparently conniving friend Monica McClean in the Kavanaugh allegations, the passages of the therapist tapes, the exact circumstances surrounding the lie-detector test, the long odyssey of Ford’s original accusation through Feinstein’s staff to Democratic committee members and the media, and the sources of Ford’s judicial support, there might well have been more incompatibility with the ever growing number of Ford’s narratives.
In the end, we were left only with the Stalinist mantra “to accuse is to be believed”—but, of course, not even the current accusers in the future would be exempt from the very nightmare they now would create for others.
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