Here a Smear, There a Smear

Dr. Malcolm Cross

Nobody familiar with the history and politics of confirming Supreme Court nominations should be surprised at the latest turn of events in the Brett Kavanaugh saga. The more things change, the more they stay the same.  The Senate Democrats, desperate to keep Brett Kavanaugh off the Supreme Court, have once again used a tactic they developed in 1991—they try to personally besmirch a nominee seemingly heading for confirmation.

Like Clarence Thomas in 1991, Kavanaugh seemed likely to have his nomination to the Supreme Court confirmed by a Senate closely divided along partisan lines, until the Democrats produced evidence of a potential sex scandal at the very last moment.  For Clarence Thomas, it was an accusation that he used dirty words and told dirty jokes in the presence of Anita Hill.  In this instance, Kavanaugh is accused of physically assaulting one Christine Blasey in an unsuccessful attempt to have sex while both were in high school about thirty-five years ago.  She successfully resisted. 

Whether this assault actually took place is debatable.  Kavanaugh, as well as an alleged accomplice, adamantly deny the event ever took place.  At least three FBI investigations failed to produce evidence of it.   And nobody else has made similar accusations against Kavanaugh.

And even if it happened, of what importance is it now?  The alleged victim is not known to have mentioned the would-be assault until 2012, when she described it to a therapist.  And although she described the event to a Democratic congresswoman earlier this summer, who forwarded her letter to Senator Diane Feinstein, the lead Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee investigating Kavanaugh, Feinstein evidently thought that the event happened so long ago and was seemingly so trivial that she sat on the letter and didn’t even bother to tell anyone else about it on the committee—until it became apparent that Kavanaugh was likely to be confirmed by the Senate and seated on the Supreme Court when its term began this October.   In short, the accusation against Kavanaugh has been made not because anyone other than the alleged victim thinks the alleged incident is important in and of itself—after all, the Democrats tolerated and excused far worse and better-documented conduct concerning President Clinton—but merely because they have no other ploys in their bag of dirty tricks with which to stop Kavanaugh’s appointment.

Of course, now that the accusation has been made, one should hope that should Kavanaugh so desire, he may have the chance to further refute the charge.  But that opportunity cannot be afforded to Botham Jean, the young African American man shot to death by a white, female police officer.

Not every fact of the case is yet known, but enough of the case is known to scare all who believe we should be safe in our own homes.  It is known that Dallas police officer Amber Guyger entered Botham Jean’s apartment and shot him to death.  She claims she mistook his apartment for her own and mistook him for a burglar.  Whether she entered an open apartment door or forced her way in, and whether she gave any orders to Jean which he disobeyed before she killed him, are not clear. 

Nor are they especially relevant.  The facts remain that she entered an apartment she had no right to enter, and killed a man she had no right to kill.

But however sickening this case may be, the aftermath is making it even more disgusting.  Following Jean’s death, the Dallas police searched his apartment and found about 3 ounces of marijuana.  This has prompted some to wonder whether he was “high” or “stoned” when Guyger accosted him, whether he was unresponsive to orders she may have given him to put his hands up or remain standing still—as if she had any such authority to give him any orders at all—and whether this mitigates the awfulness of Guyger’s actions.


Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present).  He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014.  He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.

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