The most obvious threat to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh from the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford is that he may have committed a very serious crime when he allegedly assaulted her with an apparent rape in mind. That and the fact that he may be lying about it are both disqualifiers for the job he wants, and quite possibly for the job he has.
But more subtly, Ford’s story of prepsters gone violently wild in 1983 suggests that for all of Kavanaugh’s maturity, urbanity, education, and carefully cultivated respectability, he remains a man whose respect for women is lacking. That in turn could perhaps lead him to deny them, to choose an example, control over their reproductive systems.
Ford’s account of the fateful night introduces a new element into what might have been a nearly insoluble he-said she-said deadlock: the presence of a third party, Mark Judge. It is not a particularly good sign for Kavanaugh that Judge (after denying any recollection of the party where Ford said she was assaulted) is at this point refusing to testify before the Judiciary Committee. But even if he was offering a more robust defense of his old friend, there’s another problem. Yes, Judge has matured since his days at Georgetown Prep: from an admitted alcoholic to a sort-of-conservative Catholic man-boy who still has some sexual and gender issues he is working out. Unfortunately for himself and for Kavanaugh, he’s working them out in public as a writer. And he is thus not the most convincing witness to Kavanaugh’s moral purity then or now. He actually comes across more as the wingman from hell who, all these many years later, is still struggling to keep it in his pants.
Even as Republican senators flounder around in an effort to avoid dragging Judge into the world’s biggest spotlight as an eyewitness to the alleged assault or as a character witness for his high-school buddy, Judge’s relentlessly self-revelatory jottings about both drunken and sober encounters with women are spreading quickly to a fascinated and appalled new readership. Here’s a tight but comprehensive description of the Judge oeuvre from the Washington Post:
In two memoirs, Judge depicted his high school as a nest of debauchery where students attended “masturbation class,” “lusted after girls” from nearby Catholic schools and drank themselves into stupors at parties. He has since renounced that lifestyle and refashioned himself as a conservative moralist — albeit one who has written about “the wonderful beauty of uncontrollable male passion….”
Judge has written dozens of columns in the decades since, including several for this newspaper. Femininity, masculinity and sexuality are perennial themes. He has written that disposable razors are too feminine, that former president Barack Obama is practically a woman, and that gay men have infiltrated the priesthood.
His acquired-at-midlife seriousness about religion may have curbed his predatory instincts, but it did not, it seems, keep him from taking a good look at former prey when given the opportunity, as he indicated in a creepy 2012 article entitled “I Am a Catholic Bikini Paparazzo”:
If I had been 24 and my former atheist self, I would have thought I had achieved pure bliss. I would have never gone home.
But I’m not 24 anymore, and I’m Catholic. And I had just been asked to spend three hours taking pictures of beautiful women in bikinis – and get paid for it.
It was a long and not very interesting story about how he happened upon a pool party full of “very, very attractive women. Dancing. In sexy bathing suits. And drinking cocktails.” He happened to have a camera, and asked to take some photos; he did so while struggling with lust and mumbling prayers to St. Teresa. Yuck yuck yuck.
Judge had, by then, written an entire book aimed (as best as I can tell from blurbs and one short review) at reconciling Catholic teaching on sexuality (including bans on contraception and abortion) with a good, lusty appreciation of sex and the female form. So perhaps he thought it godly to make it clear now and then that he still had an eye for the ladies.
Not long after this smirking bit of “humor,” though, Judge showed another side of his marriage of manly-man attitudes and religious conservatism. In a Daily Caller piece (“Barack Obama: the First Female President”) deploring the fact that, in his opinion, Michelle Obama wore the pants in the First Family, Judge offered this nostalgic sentiment:
Oh for the days when president George W. Bush gave his wife Laura a loving but firm pat on the backside in public. The man knew who was boss.
Now that Kavanaugh is on the brink of stiffening the conservative Catholic rigor of the Supreme Court, it’s inconvenient that the only person available to support his it-didn’t-happen version of the story Ford is telling is a man like Mark Judge. If that drunken party boy got sober and grew up into this very conventional defender of the patriarchy, maybe he’s not the best, er, judge of what happened in 1983 or of his old friend’s fitness for the highest court in the land, either. No wonder Republican senators are reluctant to put Judge before a camera and a microphone with the future of constitutional law at stake.