Before the hearings of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, Sen. Mazie Hirono, a Hawaii Democrat, described her approach to the presumption of innocence. “I put his denial in the context of everything that I know about him in terms of how he approaches his cases,” said Sen. Hirono. “As I said, his credibility is already very questionable in my mind and in the minds of a lot of my fellow Judiciary Committee members, the Democrats.” Translation: Kavanaugh’s judicial philosophy threatens my political agenda, so my evidentiary standard to deem him an attempted rapist has shifted to reflect that.
We talk about two sides in the debate over the sexual allegations against Kavanaugh, but really there are four: those who believe the evidence proves Kavanaugh is likely guilty, those who believe the evidence doesn’t prove Kavanaugh is likely guilty, and two factions on both sides that don’t care about the evidence at all. It’s these two factions, keen on engaging in scorched earth, political bloodsport, that threaten to derail the groundbreaking potential of the #MeToo movement.
Why do our beliefs about whether Ford or Kavanaugh is telling the truth break down so neatly along partisan lines? It’s hard not to believe it’s because—unlike in the cases that took down Al Franken and Eric Schneiderman, who were Democrats who would be replaced by Democrats—the political consequences are so momentous. The left pushes the mantra, “Believe Women,” while simultaneously suggesting that even if Kavanaugh is innocent, his rage over being accused of a crime as heinous as attempted rape is disqualifying.