Kavanaugh confirmation chaos -- Liberals, especially liberal women, should be careful what they wish for

Should all women be believed? That is the question many are grappling with as they watch the tumultuous struggle over Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

Democrats say unproven accusations of sexual misconduct by Christine Blasey Ford and more recently by Deborah Ramirez, a Yale classmate, are enough to disqualify him from sitting on the bench. Republicans argue that Ford’s and Ramirez’ unsubstantiated recollections are outweighed by the judge’s exemplary career and record of hiring and promoting women. Some have suggested both women’s accounts are part of a coordinated smear campaign designed to keep Kavanaugh off the bench.

The newly revealed claims by Ms. Ramirez – that at a drunken dorm party Kavanaugh thrust his penis in her face – are refuted by numerous people said to have been there, and further complicated by her admission that she was drunk at the time. The new revelations were reported by the New Yorker, which said “Ramirez acknowledged that there are significant gaps in her memories of the evening…”

In short, her accusation, like that of Christine Blasey Ford, will likely be believed by opponents of the judge, but may not be provable.

The New York Times suggests in a recent piece that the showdown is a pivotal moment for the #MeToo movement. They quote a senior executive of Planned Parenthood saying, “This is a distillation of the entire two years’ trajectory for women in this country. Are we respected? Are we believed? Are we equal?”

In other words, both Kavanaugh and Ford have becomes pawns in a much larger debate – about the validity and fairness of the #MeToo movement.

The #MeToo movement is taking us toward more division, more extremism, and more distrust. It’s a shame, because sexual assault is a serious topic.

Just in the past two days, a fourth person identified by Christine Blasey Ford as having attended the party at which she says Judge Brett Kavanaugh groped her, has said through her lawyer that she “does not know Mr. Kavanaugh and she has no recollection of ever being at a party or gathering where he was present, with, or without, Dr. Ford.”

Those are the words of Leland Ingham Keyser, a life-long friend of Ford’s; her statement presumably carries more weight than the unequivocal denial by Judge Kavanaugh or the statements made by two of his friends, who have also said they have no memory of the event in question.

And yet, when asked about Ms. Keyser’s comment on CNN’s State of the Union program, former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm brushed it aside, saying of course Keyser didn’t remember the party, since nothing terrible happened to her. That’s how illogical the discourse has become.

Maize Hirono, Democrat Senator from Hawaii, declared a few days ago, “Not only do women like Dr. Ford, who bravely comes forward, need to be heard, but they need to be believed.”

Kirsten Gillibrand has similarly stated, “I believe Dr. Blasey Ford because she’s telling the truth;” in other words, I believe her because I believe her.

This rush to judgement, fueled by gender bias, will surely not sit well with fair-minded Americans. It goes contrary to our country’s essential principle that someone’s gender, race or religion has no bearing on his or her guilt or innocence. These kinds of statements are doing women, and #MeToo, no favors.

By most accounts, Brett Kavanaugh has led an exemplary life, is a brilliant and highly qualified jurist, and has been a champion of women. Amy Chua, a professor at Yale Law School, wrote in the Wall Street Journal, ”Since joining the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2006, a quarter of his clerks have been members of a minority group. More than half, 25 out of 48, have been women. In 2014, all four were women—a first for any judge on the D.C. Circuit.”

It is striking that, in the midst of this bitter debate, not one of those women championed by Kavanaugh has suggested that the judge ever made inappropriate overtures towards her or used unsavory language.

Because there is now another accuser, Senator Diane Feinstein has requested to delay the Judiciary Committee hearings. Democrats will doubtless push to string the process out, knowing that the public’s view of Kavanaugh has been tainted by the unsubstantiated accusations. As his polling declines, support for his appointment has dropped, too.

If and when Dr. Ford testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee, she will likely convince her supporters that she is telling the truth; Kavanaugh’s denials will similarly satisfy his backers. Polling shows that Democrats overwhelmingly believe Ford while most Republicans think Kavanaugh is telling the truth. So politicized has the debate become that few minds will change.

I have spoken to many young female office workers who are openly concerned that they are being excluded from informal gatherings because their associates are worried their conversations or behavior might be misconstrued.

Republican members of the committee will be lambasted if they challenge Ford’s account; already Democrats have (in unison) accused their political rivals of “bullying” and dismissed their impartiality because they are men.

If I were a man, I’d find such dismissals insulting.

Almost as insulting as Senator Hirono recently saying, “I just want to say to the men of this country: Just shut up and step up. Do the right thing for a change.”

This is where the #MeToo movement is taking us. More division, more extremism, more distrust. It’s a shame, because sexual assault is a serious topic.

The #MeToo drive has been fueled by the revelations of many men making unwelcome advances or using their position of power, as Harvey Weinstein did, to demand sexual favors. It has also been fueled by the anger of millions of women who have experienced harassment, workplace discrimination or abuse at the hands of men.

But in the drive to eliminate such behavior, there is a risk that the country abandons the principles of fairness and equality which have guided our history and our progress. That will only stoke resentment of #MeToo, and hurt the very people they are attempting to help.

I have spoken to numerous young female office workers who are openly concerned that they are being excluded from informal gatherings because their associates are worried their conversations or behavior might be misconstrued. What executive is going to take the risk of inviting a junior female co-worker out to lunch or for an after-work drink, when all it takes is an accusation to lose his job?

Women used to complain that their exclusion from the Boys’ Clubs so powerfully in control of board rooms and C-Suites was preventing their advancement. #MeToo may, ironically, shut that door even more firmly.

If Kavanaugh does not join the Supreme Court, many liberal women will rejoice. Given how his defeat could harden suspicions about the unfairness of the women’s movement, they should be careful what they wish for.