Brett Kavanaugh's hearing last week proved fuel for nightmares and, I guess, comedy, with Saturday Night Live devoting its season premiere cold open to an unsettlingly accurate portrayal of the embattled judge as a combative "keg half-full kind of guy." On Sunday night's episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver got in on the action, devoting nearly the full half-hour to tearing apart the Supreme Court nominee's hostile and unsettling testimony.
Multiple women have accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault and misconduct, but only one—psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford—testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. As Oliver pointed out, pretty much everyone who watched her speak, including Fox News analysts, agreed that she presented a brave, affecting, and deeply credible version of events, maintaining composure throughout a morning of sometimes nonsensical-seeming questioning.
Then came Kavanaugh, a chaos agent who came barreling in like a "walking crushed beer can," firing off testimony that was equal parts fury and bravado, and zero parts answered questions.
Kavanaugh wept as he described his meticulously detailed high school calendars, and he shouted down Senators whose questions he didn't seem interested in answering, interrupting and challenging Democrats to spar. Unwittingly perhaps, he embodied precisely the kind of belligerent kid unused to being told "no"—precisely the kind of person many people have said he was in high school and college. That "surly tone," Oliver noted, is "not the tone of someone who hopes to one day have the honor of serving on the Supreme Court, but the tone of someone who feels entitled to be on it and can't believe that you're being such a dick about this."
Some, including Sen. Orrin Hatch, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, have criticized the scrutiny Kavanaugh's (alleged) teenage actions have received; as Oliver pointed out, they matter even if you set aside the content of the accusations against the nominee. The hearing's purpose was to determine who is a more believable witness: Ford, a "terrified psychology professor who blew up her entire life to relive her trauma on a national stage," or "Judge Animal House." At no point did Kavanaugh even attempt the calm, fact-based self-defense of a person who has nothing to hide, and that should tell Senators all they need to know.
A key part of the job that he is up for is judgment and temperament, and this week we saw Kavanaugh talk over the top of Senators, dodge questions, and conflate 'doesn't recall something happening' with 'denies something happened,' which is again, a fucking important distinction for a judge. Not to mention, he wept at the concept of calendars.
Ideally, a Supreme Court Justice should make decisions independent of politics. Kavanaugh himself has stated the court 'must never be viewed as a partisan institution,' and he is right about that. And yet, in his opening statement—a document he had time to draft and consider—his tone was positively Trumpian.
That is absolutely horrifying, and it is worth taking a moment now to note the norm that has just been shattered. Because I know that we're all basically calloused to people talking that way now, but we are supposed to have at least nine people left in America who do not talk that way. And Kavanaugh just came out and said that he's going to approach his entire tenure as one giant case of me vs. the fucking libtard cucks. And this brings me to the most important question that remains: Why? Why this particular asshole? Why is he the hill that conservatives are willing to die on?
True, anyone Trump nominates to sit on the Supreme Court promises to come backed by the same anti-abortion ideology, the same hyper-conservative agenda. "You don't need to choose an unhinged partisan with multiple allegations of sexual misconduct hanging over him," Oliver said. "It feels like they're doing this just to deliver a fuck you to Democrats, and even more directly, a fuck you to women. Because when this week began, the biggest fear for many was that the committee would not believe Christine Blasey Ford, but when this week ended, it seemed that something darker might have happened. It seemed their response was: We believe you, we just don' care."
That's about the shape of it, and while I for one have a hard time rebounding from that particular conclusion, it does help to laugh. May I suggest this and the SNL cold open, back to back to back?