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December 17, 2018

Kavanaugh and proof: The pink elephant in the room is alcohol

September 25, 2018
Try to remember. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP)

Brett Kavanaugh insists he never did, never would, assault a woman the way Christine Blasey Ford claims he did her back in 1982, when she says at a house party the future Supreme Court nominee, “stumbling drunk,” tried to remove her clothing, groped her body and clasped his hand on her mouth to muffle her screams.

“False and uncorroborated” too, he swears, are the recollections of Deborah Ramirez, a Yale classmate who says that in a drinking game’s swirl, he shoved his privates in her face, uninvited.




“These are smears, pure and simple,” he wrote Monday to Senate Judiciary Committee leaders Chuck Grassley and Dianne Feinstein — “last-minute character assassination” concocted to sink his nomination.

You sure about that, judge? Because at no point has Kavanaugh denied drinking (underage) to a degree that could render any airtight denials unreliable. Any testimony he may give on either claim will be colored by the alcohol that, provided he was at either scene, may have coursed through his veins.

The accounts heard so far from both women must be taken seriously. It’s farfetched to think that two off-the-radar adults would concoct such stories in a bid for progressive political martyrdom. And if he did what they said — then lied about it — it’s a strong mark against his character.

Yet their memories of interactions with Kavanaugh, too, suffer from having been under the influence. Particularly Ramirez, who, in her own telling, was so blitzed from a drinking game she was slurring her words and on the floor.

Theirs is the predicament of high school or college students, today as then, who complain about sexual misconduct only to struggle to establish facts through the fog of booze.

Let us be clear: Inebriated men can commit assault, and inebriated women can be victimized. “I was drunk out of my mind” doesn’t absolve an attacker of full responsibility, nor does “she was drunk out of her mind” give anyone license to be taken advantage of. To the contrary, those who are deeply inebriated cannot consent.

But in the absence of physical evidence or corroborating witnesses, the presence of alcohol, and lots of it, renders it harder to trust recollections — whether those might exonerate or incriminate.

That’s a simple fact.




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