02 octubre, 2018

She Said. Then He Said. Now What Will Senators Say?

By Peter Baker

WASHINGTON — At the beginning of the day, she was asked if she was sure that he was the one who sexually assaulted her 36 years ago. “One hundred percent,” she said. At the end of the day, he was asked if he was certain he had not. “One hundred percent,” he said.
One after the other, Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh sat in the same chair before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, separated by less than an hour but a reality gulf so wide that their conflicting accounts of what happened when they were teenagers cannot be reconciled.
With millions of Americans alternately riveted and horrified by the televised drama, Dr. Blasey and Judge Kavanaugh left no room for compromise, no possibility of confusion, no chance that they remembered something differently. In effect, they asked senators to choose which one they believed. And in that moment, these two 100-percent realities came to embody a society divided into broader realities so disparate and so incompatible that it feels as if two countries are living in the borders of one.
It has become something of a cliché to say that the United States has become increasingly tribal in the era of President Trump, with each side in its own corner, believing what it chooses to believe and looking for reinforcement in the media and politics. But the battle over Judge Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination has reinforced those divisions at the intersection of sex, politics, power and the law.
Senators emerged from Thursday’s hearing bitterly split into those tribes, with Democrats persuaded by Dr. Blasey’s calm and unflustered account of being shoved onto a bed, pawed, nearly stripped and prevented from screaming for help, while Republicans were moved by Judge Kavanaugh, who bristled with red-faced outrage and grievance at what he called an orchestrated campaign to destroy his life.
By Thursday night, only a few of the 100 who will decide Judge Kavanaugh’s fate remained undecided, searching for answers where none were readily available. “There is doubt,” said Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona. “We’ll never move beyond that. And just have a little humility on that front.”
It was surely the most explosive and surreal confirmation hearing since Clarence Thomas and Anita F. Hill in 1991. A nominee for the Supreme Court was asked if he was “a gang rapist” and a blackout drunk, while defending himself by describing how long he preserved his virginity. His accuser described him “grinding into me,” covering her mouth and fearing that he “was accidentally going to kill me.”

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