Dear Jeff Flake,

I was impressed that you were . . . finally . . . partially . . . prevailed upon to break the ranks of your party and require a week delay for an FBI investigation before the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh. This outraged both parties, something I generally think is a good sign, and when a vote is as completely partisan as this one is, there’s clearly some bad faith going on–both ways.

Here’s what I see as bad faith:

  • The tactics surrounding Dr. Ford’s testimony being released to cause maximum damage (rather than quietly investigating it earlier on). I get it, she didn’t want her name to be made public, etc., etc. It just so happened to fit in with Democrats plans. Whatever.
  • The behavior of the Republican senators in this process. Very unseemly, and quite clearly partisan. If they had watched Kavanaugh bite the head off a live chicken during the hearing, they would have defended it, dismissed it, or normalized it. It’s quite clear that he’s an insider to their little club, and apparently that’s good enough for them.

But Jeff Flake, you don’t have to be an insider any more. You’ve already distanced yourself from Trump (who not coincidentally is guilty of far worse than Brett Kavanaugh), you’re not seeking re-election, you’re not a doddering old benevolent sexist fool like Senator Hatch (telling Dr. Blasey Ford she’s attractive? Are you listening to yourself??), and yet, you still seem unwilling to see the harm in putting someone with Kavanaugh’s temperament on the Supreme Court simply because you agree with the way he will probably decide cases. But that’s a stupid reason to confirm him since not confirming him will just tee up another right wing judge, someone who isn’t plausibly accused of sexual assault and attempted rape.

Why did you do this is a question both sides were asking. Here’s what I heard:

  • Left: Two versions–either you was moved by the impassioned women who confronted you in the elevator about the impacts of this decision on the women in this country who have survived sexual assault (and the rest of us, too), or more likely, you were simply doing lip service to that by asking for an FBI investigation because you already said you would vote “yes” unless an FBI investigation revealed something.
  • Right: You’re a coward, a traitor, a disgrace! The names being hurled at you were alarming. I honestly wasn’t sure what the heck they were so upset about given that you said you would vote to confirm. So this was all about that caveat about an investigation and the one week delay. Boo freakin hoo.

Mormon Women for Ethical Government[1] sent a letter to you as one of the 4 Mormon senators involved in the Kavanaugh hearing (all Republicans) pleading for you to handle the Kavanaugh hearing with the care necessary given the serious nature of the allegations. You were the only one who did not vote to confirm unconditionally. This is the response from MWEG:

We are deeply grateful to Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) for his willingness to insist upon further investigation before confirming Judge Kavanaugh. We hope that such investigation will be embraced by Senate leadership in order to address the doubt Senator Flake spoke of yesterday. If Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed without that additional process, that doubt will linger over both him and the legitimacy of the Supreme Court for the duration of his tenure. If he is innocent of these charges, then he, more than anyone, should want this investigation to take place so that his name can be cleared.

In the meantime, we continue to urge all senators to work diligently to ensure that any justice who sits on the Supreme Court of the United States meets standards of character, temperament, trustworthiness, and impartiality equal to the importance of the position.

As a group devoted to ethical and peaceful governance, we respectfully plead with all the members of the Senate to place the well-being of our country over that of either party.

Your one vote has the dubious honor of being a deciding vote in this confirmation. That’s why you are drawing so much fire from both sides, but hey, if you’ve already been branded a coward and a traitor, what more do you have to lose?

Some of the responses to this hearing that I’ve seen on social media have been really disturbing:

  • Kavanaugh shouldn’t be disqualified for something he did when he was 17 or in college. We try 17 year olds as adults all the time in our legal system, something Brett Kavanaugh knows well. But in fairness, I would actually buy this argument somewhat if he was remorseful, or demonstrated that he had learned from his past mistakes. Instead we see a petulant fit in which he’s casting himself as the victim, and he has dodged, obfuscated and outright lied in the process. See footnote [2] for a list of these. He was downright Clintonian in his slipperiness, particularly given the fact that he and Mark Judge are literally accused of attempting a “Devil’s Triangle” with the unwilling 15-year old Dr. Blasey Ford, and no, it’s not a “drinking game” except that they were drunk and thought it was funny. How is it not obvious to everyone that this yearbook entry is clear evidence of him bragging of the very thing she has accused him of doing?
  • Boys will be boys. Everyone acted this way in the 1980s. I was in the 80s, and I was around kids who drank, and I can say with certainty that not all boys acted this way, even when drunk, even when a girl was drunk or slutty. Those who did so were a minority, and none of them is up for a seat on the Supreme Court. Yes, we all watched the John Hughes movies, and we knew they joked about taking advantage of girls at parties, but this just wasn’t something every guy did. The ones who did this shouldn’t be on the Supreme Court.
  • This is a war on men; next it will be your son! OK, settle the hell down with this one. I am not worried at all about my sons being falsely accused, and that’s because they understand consent and respect for others. If a man hasn’t sexually assaulted anyone, the odds are really good he won’t be accused of it. We should be teaching our children not to hurt other people, not clutching our pearls about false accusations. Only 2-8% of reports are false allegations according to the FBI. Most sexual assault is not reported, and what is reported usually doesn’t result in a conviction; only a third of campus rapes even result in expulsion! Which set of odds would you rather have to live with? 20-25% of women are sexually assaulted at some time in our lives (along with 6% of men). (Here are some updated stats). That’s over 25 million voters.
  • There’s no proof or corroboration. There seldom is corroboration or proof of sexual assault because it’s almost never a public act; the current existence of cell phones with cameras and video recording is beginning to change this. But this isn’t a criminal trial; we don’t have to prove his guilt or innocence, just determine if he should be appointed to the Supreme Court for life to make decisions about issues that affect all Americans, 51% of whom are women.
  • Why didn’t she come out with this sooner? His appointment is the only reason to bring it up. Sexual assault is very seldom taken seriously, even less back in the early 80s. Victims of sexual assault feel deep shame and embarrassment about what has happened to them. The one thing Dr. Blasey Ford can’t forget is them laughing at her as they terrorized her. She was a joke to them. That’s how victims of these acts feel. I know we are not a joke to you, Senator Flake. Don’t side with those who see women as a punchline.
  • He doesn’t remember it, so maybe she’s got the wrong guy. Or maybe, just maybe, that’s because this was nothing to him, a joke, another sexual exploit, a fun prank with his friend, but to her (a terrified 15 year old girl fighting for her life) it was a life-altering event.

Right now, it seems that it doesn’t matter what Kavanaugh did then or says now; he’s your team’s guy, so whatever he does is gold. Don’t you fall for it! If ever there was a time to break ranks, this is it. I’m sure the right will tee up another right wing white guy, probably also from some Ivy League school. [3]  Hopefully, the next guy will be able to answer questions directly and remain calm in the face of pressure. You know, the type of composure we expect from jurists and leaders.

You don’t owe the Republican party anything; heaven knows they didn’t have your back when you refused to back Trump. What do you owe the women in this country who are affected by your leadership? I hope you feel you owe us the respect Kavanaugh, his drinking buddies, and his current Senatorial supporters deny us.

Sincerely,

Hawkgrrrl

[1] Mormon Women for Ethical Government (MWEG) is a nonpartisan group of over 6,000 women dedicated to the ideals of decency, honor, accountability, transparency, and justice in governing. MWEG is not formally affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

[2] Here’s a starter list (click here for a great article on the contradictions in Kavanaugh’s testimony):

– He pretended he was ralphing during Beach Week from too many jalapeños (spicy food makes him throw up, LOL)
– He feigned ignorance about sex slang (particularly “Devil’s Triangle” which he boasts of in his yearbook and is the exact sexual act he & Mark Judge attempted with Dr. Blasey Ford).
– He deliberately misread his own meticulously-kept 1982 summer calendar (stating that the people Ford said were at the party didn’t party with him, when they did on July 1; stating that the party she mentioned must have been on a weekend, thereby improving his alibi, although she never claimed it was a weekend, and he did attend drinking parties during the week despite saying he was too focused on his studies).
– He replied to questions about his drinking habits by talking about church
– He suggested there are no alcoholics at Yale
– He denied knowing who “Bart O’Kavanaugh” could possibly be based on
– He declared things refuted that weren’t actually refuted
– He claimed witnesses said things they didn’t say (he said they all said “it didn’t happen” when all they said was that they didn’t remember the event–which they WOULDN’T if they weren’t the one who was sexually assaulted there)
– He failed to explain why nearly a dozen Yale classmates said he drank heavily (dodged the question)
– He invented an imaginary drinking game to avoid admitting he had the mind of a sports jock in high school (Devils Triangle = quarters with only 3 shot glasses? It’s not even a very inventive lie!)
– He said Ford had only accused him last week
– He responded to his roommate’s eyewitness statement with an incoherent story about furniture
– He pretended Bethesda wasn’t five miles wide
– He insisted Renate should be flattered by the ditty about how easy she was; she wasn’t.
– He declared that distinguished federal judges don’t commit sexual misconduct even though he had clerked for exactly such a judge.
– He stated he first learned about Ramirez’ complaint through the news, but texts show him asking friends to give him an alibi for that incident BEFORE the story broke.

[3] The elitism in the Supreme Court is also alarming, but not on par with confirming someone with Kavanaugh’s temperament. However, these two things are not separate. When George W. Bush attempted to put forward Harriet Miers, a conservative woman, the grounds for her not being confirmed were that she didn’t possess the Ivy League background we’ve come to expect for the Supreme Court. As we’ve seen in this confirmation process, though, that very Ivy League background is as much a bug as a feature, creating (mostly) male entitlement and privilege and barring those without it. It keeps the Members of the Club on the inside track.