Midway through the hearing, a red-faced Senator Lindsey Graham raged at Kavanaugh’s opponents on the committee and offered his sympathy for the nominee: “This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics … I cannot imagine what you and your family have been through.” He, too, felt the sudden unfairness of the world. But neither Kavanaugh, nor Graham, nor the many (male) senators who offered their apologies to Kavanaugh in the following hours, made anything more than a cursory effort to extend their empathy beyond the nominee to Ford and her family, though many of their expressions of anguish could have applied equally well to her.
“Do you know how long the last 10 days have been? For us?” Kavanaugh said. “Every day has been a lifetime.” Later, he said he had not watched Ford testify.
It may have been all the talk of high school, but over the course of the hearing, Kavanaugh seemed very young—rejuvenated by his discovery of injustice. The women watching and commenting seemed very old in comparison, weighed down by their knowledge of the brutality of the world and the odds that Ford’s testimony, like the Access Hollywood tape, wouldn’t matter. After the hearing I spoke with a male friend who told me that he was glad he had watched it with his female coworkers. “Almost all of them had a story like hers,” he said. “I never understood that.”