Kavanaugh Affair: We’ve seen this show before

Readers of this column know that I believe there is nothing new under the sun. Times change.  Faces change. Technology advances. But all the basic themes of humanity were established long ago. As King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:9. “What has been will be again. What has been done will be done again. There is nothing new under the sun.”

Regarding the Kavanaugh affair, we don’t have to look far. Twenty-seven years ago, Anita Hill stunned the country with accusations of sexual harassment leveled at conservative U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

The Hill-Thomas timeline is almost an exact replica of the current situation. Hill was a college professor. The charges came during the last days of the confirmation process. The charges involved sex. There were no other witnesses other than Hill and Thomas.

Both Thomas and Hill were unswerving and convincing under oath. In both cases, conspiracy theorists claimed the charges were last-ditch fabrications by the left to prevent a conservative from sitting on the nation’s highest court. Hill passed a polygraph test. Thomas declined to take one.

 According to National Public Radio, Anita Hill spoke with quiet dignity, reciting the indignities she testified were visited upon her. Hill testified, “He talked about pornographic materials depicting individuals with large penises or large breasts, involved in various sex acts. On several occasions, Thomas told me graphically of his own sexual prowess.” She also said he asked her out on multiple occasions, despite her consistent refusals.

During the controversy, Thomas supporters claimed Hill was delusional or had been spurned, leading her to seek revenge. Hill said she only came forward out of a sense of patriotic obligation.

It was a classic “he said, she said” battle with no other witnesses. One of them had to be lying.

In the end, Thomas was confirmed 52-48 – the closest vote in a century. Female voters rebelled, ushering in what came to be known as "The Year of The Woman" in 1992. Elected were four new female — and Democratic — members of the Senate, including Dianne Feinstein of California, now the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

Thomas has sat on the Supreme Court ever since without further accusations of sexual harassments. He is considered the most conservative member of the court.

Hill returned to academia and became a tenured professor at Brandeis University. She went on to write three books about her experience. She has been a frequent commentator in the media on sexual harassment issues. She  now heads the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, spearheaded by co-chair of the Nike Foundation Maria Eitel, venture capitalist Freada Kapor Klein, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and talent attorney Nina Shaw.

Since then there have been several books written about the affair, some supporting Thomas, others Hill. The truth remains as elusive today as it was back then.

 

Watching the hearings, the whole spectacle seemed almost surreal and grotesque, as though the dirty laundry of our culture was exposed for all to see.

I am not surprised the hearings ended in a horrific brawl. The stakes are incredibly high. If Kavanaugh is appointed to the Supreme Court, the court will have a solid conservative majority for the first time in a century. It will change the very fabric of our government and country.

Politicians come and go, but our nation is run by a massive bureaucracy comprised of millions of federal employees, many protected in the jobs by civil service laws. The latest term for this is the Deep State. Kavanaugh is known most for his rulings in favor of weakening this massive apparatus.

Simultaneously, the Trump versus anti-Trump debate is at a crescendo. Midterm elections are weeks away. Time is of the essence. It is a battle for the heart and soul of the nation.

If one wants to look on the positive side, vicious Senate confirmation hearings beat the heck out of war and bloodshed as a way to decide the fate of our nation. We should count our blessings. Let’s not forget the horror of the Civil War.

He said. She said. How can anyone resolve the truth? Alleged witnesses have no recollection of the party.

Perhaps one or both were too drunk to remember accurately. We’ve all witnessed young teens when they first encounter alcohol. Perhaps one or both are delusional. Serious mental illness infects 10 percent of our population. We all have the capacity for delusional recollections.

As I write this, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of men sitting in jail cells convicted of rape based almost exclusively on the testimony of the woman. The jury believed the woman. The man claimed it was consensual sex.

Likewise, there are also hundreds, if not thousands, of sexual predators roaming free, terrorizing innocent women, because they live in a system that tolerates such behavior. The jury believed the man. The woman said it was rape.

The Senate hearing reflects one of the great unresolvable problems plaguing our culture and our society today. There are no easy answers.

The Bible recounts the stories of men driven by lust to inflict damage and harm on innocent women. Thou shalt not commit adultery. There are also stories of deceitful, conniving women manipulating events to their own advantage. Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor. Both sexes are human. Both mired in sin. There is nothing new under the sun.

So where do I stand? On the side of the time tested tenants of our court system. Innocent until proven guilty. Lynchings and witch trials were based on rumors. We don’t need to revert to that.