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The GOP’s Kavanaugh Playbook Was Textbook Abusive Behavior

| October 10, 2018

kavanaugh playbook

But the president thinks it’s a scary time for young men in America. (Shutterstock)

By Anny Martinez

Shortly before he became a Supreme Court justice, Brett Kavanaugh made two things clear: He likes beer. And he’s a self-righteous beneficiary of presumption of innocence.

Indeed, Kavanaugh was provided a considerable benefit of the doubt for a man credibly accused of a horrible crime. In an ordinary job interview, much less one for a lifetime appointment to Supreme Court, most people couldn’t count on the same.

Kavanaugh defenders said a lot about the presumption of innocence. But in truth they were following a much more menacing playbook, common to many abusers called out for their behavior.

Psychologists call it DARVO: deny, attack, reverse victim and offender.

Fielding questions from reporters the other day, President Trump said this: “It’s a very scary time for young men in America.”

And it certainly should be, for young and old men alike that have taken advantage of or degraded women who are now having their moment and speaking out. Trump painted these people as victims, not offenders.

This tactic was also used by Senator Lindsey Graham, who compared what Judge Kavanaugh was experiencing to “hell” and vilified Democrats for giving voice to his accusers.

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s credible (and polygraphed, might I add) account and moving testimony through hours of questioning was recognized by both Democratic and Republican senators.

That questioning was presided over by Rachel Mitchell, a prosecutor hired to represent Republican senators on the committee, none of whom are women. Mitchell delicately handled Dr. Blasey Ford’s testimony for these Republican senators — who then roared back into action when Judge Kavanaugh took the seat.

other-wordsThat’s when these senators asked their own questions and used the hearing to defend their nominee. Unlike Trump, most tried not to attack Dr. Blasey Ford directly. But they were unmistakably painting Kavanaugh as the victim.

Mitchell’s hiring demonstrated that these senators remain badly out of touch with how to engage with allegations of sexual assault. They hired a female prosecutor to avoid accountability, not to engage the accusations seriously.

Dr. Blasey-Ford had zero to gain and has already sacrificed so much. “I’ve had to relive this trauma in front of the whole world,” she lamented.

Yet Republicans still treated her little better than Anita Hill. “Are you a scorned woman?” Senator Howell Heflin infamously demanded of Hill. Then as now, they showed the same clear disdain the GOP has for an empowered woman who knows she has the same rights as a man.

Kavanaugh has been confirmed, but Blasey Ford’s testimony wasn’t in vain. Her courageous and credible account has helped millions of Americans confront the reality of sexual misconduct — and how far we still must go in the way these cases are handled.

More women are standing up, and more men are standing with them. Fourteen men were arrested in one recent protest against Kavanaugh’s confirmation, alongside many women.

One of those male protestors, a hip hop artist named Mysonne General, said this: “By standing for women, we have to acknowledge there is a culture of sexual violence, a culture men have benefited from, and in order for it to change men have to change it.”

A few old politicians are still relying on DARVO. They’re trying to take sexual misconduct and violence towards women off the table as a political issue. In addition to exonerating powerful men, they’re protecting rape culture.

But outraged women are mobilized. And more than ever are running for office. Candidates like Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Nika Edgardo, and Representative Ilhan Omar, to name a few, are showing that uncompromising women can run — and they can win.

Anny Martinez directs the Jamaica Plain Forum for the Institute for Policy Studies office in Boston.

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38 Responses for “The GOP’s Kavanaugh Playbook Was Textbook Abusive Behavior”

  1. gmath55 says:

    The bottom line. After all was said and done it is still a he said, she said case. There was never enough evidence to support their case.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ford’s testimony was textbook, liar who used to like to drink, paid by the Dumbocrats and lied about having a fear of flying. She couldn’t remember anything about that night except that she had a couple of beers. Hmmm smh

  3. Old Lady says:

    If tje alleged victime could ” reemerber what happen, when it happen and how it happen, the “victims should back their allegations with proof i.e. police reports eye witnesses. Prove it or go back i your rabbit hole

  4. Richard says:

    So I guess that Dr. Blasey Ford’s courageous and CREDIBLE testimony and account of the events totally contradicts Rachael Mitchell (a woman prosecutor). Therefore Mitchell was lying when she stated, quote: “A ‘he said, she said’ case is incredibly difficult to prove. But this case is even WEAKER than that. Dr. Ford identified other witnesses to the event, and those witnesses either refuted her allegations or failed to corroborate them.” We have a justice system in place for these types of allegations. Ask Bill Cosby how well the system works! Or ask Harvey Weinstein when allegations against him is finally litigated in a court of law. Just because the left wing press and social media accused Kavanaugh, that does NOT make him GUILTY as charged in a court of Law and Order. So tell me, when will we see this ligated in a court of law so we can actually see how CREDIBLE Dr. Blassey Ford really is? Don’t hold your breath!

  5. Sherry says:

    @Anonymous- Please cite your “credible FACTUAL” proof of your horrific, despicable comments. . . straight from the gutter!

    It was a “job interview” for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. As a professional recruiter for the high tech industry for over 20 years, I can say in my personal expertise that even the “suspicion” of such behavior, in addition to his partisan conspiracy theories presented in his unhinged tirade before the Senate members absolutely disqualifies Kavanaugh from being ANY KIND of judge!

    Innocent until proven guilty does not apply in a “job interview”. If any candidate had spoken that way during the interview process, I would have called security to have him removed from my office.

  6. Grgrmommy says:

    There is no way to know who is telling the truth so long after the incident without corroborating testimony. He said she said does nothing to help either side.
    Women need to start using their knees, teeth, and fingernails when they are attacked/abused. We need to call 911 as soon as possible after an incident. Even if we don’t win in court, enough reports for the same man will show up in records. We are conditioned to just “let it go”, that has to stop.
    I am pretty sure there are many women who have had a man make a heavy handed pass. I walked out of two jobs in my younger years because my bosses came on hard and strong. I was a single mother and quite a few think that is a “let’s get it on” sign. It is hard to walk away from a paycheck, but it the 50’s 60’s and 70’s you didn’t have much choice. The biggest problem is women and men are human, some lie to get attention, get even or just for the hell of it. A women needs to learn to defend herself and a man needs to learn not to put himself the wrong place at the wrong time.

  7. Rosaline F ODonnell says:

    The FBI had their hands “Tied” by Trump! Witnesses were not being questioned and in some cases being ignored or brushed off. “Sham Investigation” due to the stronghold and total control by the White House, thus, causing little support and lack of evidence as the FBI could not do their Job as was expected by the American People. That’s the bottom line!

  8. Jeffrey says:

    What I walked away with s this: Ford should have her license striped/revoked and enter herself into a psychiatric ward for the remainder of her life. Anyone that is willing to be a pawn for this charade is not well in the head. And I would expect more from a Doctor. And her past record for being a political protester didn’t fair well with anyone either. That extra door on her home was for an escape in case she was caught in one of her lies.

  9. Bill says:

    @ Sherry

    This was NOT a job interview. A job interview is NOT full of POLITICAL BS. A job interview does not have unfounded allegations from ones TEENS used to vilify them. A job interview is not televised and when the interview is over then have those that HATE all you stand for ( the Constitution) bring out such allegations from 35 plus years ago when one was a teen and with NO corroborating evidence BUT evidence does NOT matter all that matters to them was to vilify him.

  10. will says:

    If you conducted an interview (inquisition) like that, you would be fired.

  11. John DeWitt says:


    It wasn’t a job interview at all. It was pure political theater. If it were a job interview, the democrats might have actually asked job interview questions. Nor was it an investigation. Investigations are conducted by non partisan players. Both sides already made up their minds before this process ever began. People keep speaking about “credible” allegations. Credible only means believable. Credible does not in any way equate to provable or even truthful. I can make a credible statement yet it could be totally false. I just read a study that around 8% of sexual assault allegations are false. The same report states that only 2% of allegations for other violent crimes are false. This means sexual assault claims are four times more likely to be false than other violent crimes. There are many reasons someone could want to lie. The fact that she has a Phd in Psychology also means she has the knowledge to make claims that fit a certain profile and also gives her credibility that she may or may not deserve. The mere fact that we live in a hyperpartisan world where defeating someone at any cost is acceptable left me more a skeptic than a believer. I could care less about Kavanaugh, but under the circumstances presented I would have voted to confirm. She lost a lot of credibility claiming a fear of flying yet she has flown extensively as shown in her own social media. I would also expect that a victim of a sexual assault that got no further than “grinding” with no penetration, not even successful removal of clothing, could get past that moment after 30 plus years without the kind of lifelong trauma she described. She may have displayed a lot of courage to speak before the nation, but on the other hand, she presents herself to the world as incredibly timid and much less assertive than I would expect from a Phd in Psychology. The Democratic Senators each used there five minutes to make their own political speeches, including Corey Booker who just wants to kickstart his Presidential ambitions. They each spent maybe 30 seconds at the end of their proselytizing to maybe ask her one softball question. This investigation should have been initiated by trained professionals immediately after Feinstein got the letter. It would only become public if the investigators believed their was proof. This process sickens me because all it does is diminish confidence in our institutions, particularly the Senate. What used to be a respectable body is now a joke. They merely made Dr Ford the butt of the joke. Not one of the 22 Senators on that committee gave a shit about her. Nor did they give a shit about truth, only about winning or losing. In the process, we all lost.

  12. Pogo says:


    The trumpholes have been lobotimized by their strict diet of fox and fools, matt sludge, crazy alex, little limbaugh, and crooked trump’s traveling freak show where they are the Nuremberg re-enactor. Meanwhile, the real world turns:

    Roberts refers judicial misconduct complaints against Kavanaugh to federal appeals court in Colorado

    “Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on Wednesday referred more than a dozen judicial misconduct complaints filed recently against Brett M. Kavanaugh to a federal appeals court in Colorado.

    The 15 complaints, related to statements Kavanaugh made during his Senate confirmation hearings, were initially filed with the federal appeals court in Washington, where Kavanaugh served for the last 12 years before his confirmation Saturday to the Supreme Court…”

    Vote Blue as if your life and future depend upon it – they do.

  13. tulip says:

    Has it ever occurred to anyone that the reason there was no witness corroboration was because the witnesses played dumb and knew nothing because they didn’t want to be involved with either side. To the it wasn’t worth upsetting their own lives and jobs and the derogatory media comments.

    At that hearing the hired prosecutor attorney also got to ask Kavanaugh questions. When she got to the July 1st page on K’s calendar, there were notations Kavanaugh made regarding the party Dr Ford was talking about. The minute the prosecutor brought this out, the Reps immediately called for a break and, at that time off camera, they told her she wasn’t needed anymore and we never saw her finish her questions to K. In other words. there must have been something that he wrote that would’ve corroborated her story.that the Reps didn’t want known.

    They also are dwelling on the witness thing because they want to take our minds off the fact that K lied to the Senate about his drinking and behavorial habits and the fact that they found some text that K had written to his buddies telling them to “keep quiet” about certain things.

    Just another viewpoint added to this mix.

  14. atilla says:

    If all politicians were held accountable for what they did in high school we would have a pretty lean political representation Washington. Look at Clinton he didn’t bat an eye to bring it into the oval office.

  15. Agkistrodon says:

    Funny how many throw rocks, that have lived in glass houses. I’d bet a few of you cry into your pillow at night. That stuff is going to eat a hole in your stomach.

  16. Mark says:

    “And he’s a self-righteous beneficiary of presumption of innocence.” I guess every American is self-righteous?

  17. Anony says:

    Ford told the TRUTH. She knew exactly where she was, what time it was, and who did it (both Kavanaugh and Justice). There were other women who came forward to about him. He is a corrupt bully, a lying partisan who should have never been allowed on the bench. Indeed, 2400 law professors sent a signed letter to the senate to stop Kavanaugh from being confirmed. THAT right there tells me all I need to know about mr. Citizen’s United’s worthiness. Already he is in a fight with Gorsuch on deciphering our laws on how long prisoners can be detained after they have served out their sentences. Kavanaugh would keep them in there forever. What justice is that for this country, which is supposed to be a country ruled by laws, ethics, justice?

    Seems republicans have no ethics or morals anymore and will listen to any and all lies and fake stories given to them. VOTE BLUE and kick government/justice/rapist loving GOPers to the curb.

  18. Edith Campins says:

    Women don’t come forward for the same reason all those catholic children didn’t come forward when they were abused. You know you are not going to be believed, you know your life will be turned upside down, you know that even people close to you are going to want to sweep the whole thing under the rug, you knw that even those who may have witnessed the abuse won’t want to get involved, you are traumatized and afraid, you feel dirty and you question yourself, did you resist enough? Could you have tried harder to get away. The bottom line is that the victim will carry this for life and the abuser will just move on, probably to do it to smeone else.
    Having said that…
    I am sick that this arrogant frat boy was confirmed to the Supreme Court. Yes, I agree that there was not evidence to prove he committed the abuse and we do have the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
    I am disturbed by how he handled the entire situation. He lied, he was arrogant and disrespectful. He lacked any compassion or kindness. He handled himself in the typical trump way, insult others, deny, lie, misinform.
    His behaviour was unbecoming a rational, stable individual.
    It is for that reason that I fear for how he will conduct himself on the court.

  19. Lisa Moyer says:

    I am sorry. I find it hard to believe as a WOMAN she finds it important to come out with it NOW. She can’t remember what day, what time, where it happened, or how she got home but only had one beer but by God, she knew it was Bret Kavanaugh. I know friends that got raped and to this day they shake and tear up when they talk about the incident. I don’t by her story. She outright lied about flying and about taking polygraph tests. This reporter is bias and it is obvious. So as a WOMAN. This story is bogus. People like this reporting this story is going to make it hard for real assault cases to be believable.

  20. Sherry says:

    Good God. . . it most certainly “IS” Assault when anyone is held down by another with a hand over their mouth, especially to the point that may be life threatening. Sexual assault and rape are NOT the same thing! But “assault” charges should certainly be taken very seriously, as should sexual harassment!

    Please give me a break with the (expletive deleted) “no penetration” perspective. People who think the kind of “attack” that Christine Ford described is just a “boys will be boys” thing. . . they are, in my opinion, ignorant, neanderthal brutes.

    If you are not part of the solution. . . you are often part of the problem! Judging by the despicable comments here. . . our community has lots of very fundamental problems in the form of some of its male citizenry. How contemptuous, how very demeaning of women!

    VOTE BLUE for any chance of EQUALITY!

  21. MannyHM says:

    How do I want to be treated if I’m accused of doing an act that the mere allegation would ruin my reputation ? I say please consider me as not guilty if no evidence exists. I would give the same treatment to you if accused. Please complete this – Do into others as …..

  22. Agkistrodon says:

    Perhaps you should get a bigger pillow.

  23. jake says:

    I wonder how much Pogo and Sherry would cry, if these same type of false allegations were directed at them. No proof or credibility, only the words of a mentally unstable person with no memory for details, and no witnesses to corroborate the claims.

    I’m sure both of you would be begging us for our support.

  24. Richard says:

    @Edith Campins – So Kavanaugh is GUILTY solely because YOU are claiming he lied. Well, here’s one for you. I am claiming that Dr. Blassey Ford lied NOT because I THINK SO but because the people she claims to have been there have REFUTED what she is claiming plus she had ZIPPO corroboration from anyone. Are you now a judge and jury of ONE? That isn’t how our justice system works here in the USA. Oh, by the way, how has Kavanaugh conducted himself for the past 12 years on the second highest court in the US?

  25. Randy Jones says:

    Since this essay mentions Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez I am reminded that she recently said the U.S. is a “democratic republic”. VOTERS beware of any politician, regardless of their gender, who does not posses a basic understanding of the U.S. Constitution. We live in a CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC which is SIGNIFICANTLY different from a democratic republic. Anyone you vote for, “RED” or “BLUE”, should be able to tell you the significance of Article V of the US Constitution.

    A good example of how our constitutional republic works – the MAJORITY of Californians voted to ban same sex marriage. The court overruled the MAJORITY on behalf of the CONSTITUTIONAL rights of the FEW. The Electoral College works the same way. One might say that if YOU want to abolish the Electoral College YOU would likewise AGREE that the majority of the voters in California can BAN same sex marriage by a majority vote. Irrespective of your political affiliation please be very careful what (and who) you vote for.

  26. Richard says:

    VOTE Republican to maintain any sense of civility. Vote Democratic if you agree to having a mob following you around town while shopping, dining, driving and showing up at your home shouting obscenities etc.

  27. hawkeye says:

    I love the way that this is making the liberals flip out!,

  28. Edith Campins says:

    @Richard, you obviously have difficulty reading since nowhere in my comment did say he was guilty.
    However, many, including the National Council of Churches, the Dean of his alma mater, Yale Law, a former SupremeCourt justice and many other prominent individuals felt the same way I did and made it known publicly.
    Secondly, his own former friends and roommates had some things to say theat cast doubts on his character.
    Lastly, yes he did lie in his testimony to the committee. She may have lied too but then she wasn’t nominated to the Supreme Court.

  29. Sherrry says:

    In Addition. . . the FACT still remains that Deborah Ramirez. . . you know, the SECOND person with a complaint of Sexual Abuse by Kavanaugh. . . had plenty of corroborating witnesses. . . BUT, the FBI was prohibited by the White House from interviewing any of them . . . :

    The whole FBI phony investigation was “incomplete”. . . and therefore nothing but a sham! All complete corruption from the trump gutter.

  30. Sherry says:

    Thanks POGO, for your support and comments. Tulip. . . you have and a very keen observation I had not noticed before. . . thanks!

    Protesting is an age old form of Democracy in Action. Why are protestors called an angry mob only when they are protesting on the other side of YOUR point of view?

    Why is it that it’s OK for thousands of women’s reputations to be ruined. . . for 100 years +. . . . when “innocent locker room” talk has them demeaned as whores? Why is a man’s reputation more sacred and important than a woman’s?

  31. Pogo says:

    @Republicans really can’t see themselves in mirrors

    and history always starts tomorrow.

    The tea party goons who rioted and disrupted every public meeting they polluted before they graduated to crooked trump’s floating version of 1930’s Nuremberg; the goons who mindlessly chant lock him/her up and beat protesters with trump’s encouragement – are lecturing about civility, due process and presumption of innocence?

    The goons who lick crooked trump’s slippers while he gushes about his love for murderous dictators who gag and murder the press, imprison any and all opposition and engage in murder at home and abroad – they want to elect our leaders?

    No, and hell no.

    Vote Blue as if your life, health, and future depend upon it – they do.

  32. Richard says:

    @ Edith & Sherry – I agree with both of you in that possibly both Kavanaugh & Ford lied in their testimonies to the Judiciary Committee. I also agree that the complaints surrounding the Ramiez allegations need to be investigated thoroughly but there are legal paths to accomplish that task circumventing the White-House. If they are proven true in a court of law then Kavanaugh should be impeached and removed from the Supreme Court Justice Department. HOWEVER, I totally disagree with the Lynch Mob approach and smear campaigns that the democrats and left wing radicals have taken to denigrate a person and family. If the democrats want to get back into office they had better come up with a platform that will benefit the people of America versus one of denigrating and obstructing people’s rights. I will fight ALL day and night against being bullied into submission without FACTS.

  33. Sherry says:

    Here’s the kernel of the political “Power Play”;

    1. Those politicians who pushed through Kavanaugh’s placement on the Supreme Court . . . “come hell or high water”. . . know much more than most of us do. They “KNOW” it would be literally (almost) IMPOSSIBLE to IMPEACH any sitting Justice on the Supreme Court. So, they simply created enough of a barely “minimal” FBI investigation, to cover their behinds so they could vote the party line, just like they were going to do anyway.

    2. As Edith says, even if Christine Ford lied during her testimony (she passed a lie detector test remember). . . so I’m not sure precisely what she said was a lie. . . Christine was NOT being considered for a lifetime position of Justice on the Supreme Court. Certainly we know Kavanaugh. . . at a bare minimum. . . misled Congress and “US” regarding his “illegal underage” drinking behavior in high school and college. Consider the possibility that he drank so much that he DID act out sexually against women, and did not remember doing so. That alone should have been enough to DISQUALIFY him for the position.

    3. Kavanaugh, in his own tirade, showed extreme political prejudice= DISQUALIFYING

    4. Kavanaugh, in his own tirade, showed extreme anger under stress= DISQUALIFYING

    5. Christine Ford WAS NOT interviewed by the FBI, although she wanted to be. WHY? Consider the possibility that “IF” the FBI interviewed Christine Ford, then they would have been required to interview Kavanaugh. Also, consider the possibility that those politicians who wanted Kavanaugh rammed through
    DID NOT want Kavanaugh thoroughly interviewed by the “professional investigators” of the FBI. WHY? If he had nothing to hide.

    6. The accusations of Deborah Ramirez were NOT thoroughly investigated. She had a list of corroborating witnesses that were never interviewed by the FBI.

    7. Several of Kavanaugh’s room mates and drinking buddies reached out to the FBI in order to give their FACTS about Kavanaugh’s drinking habits, but the FBI REFUSED to interview them. . . BECAUSE the FBI was told (by Don McGahn, white house attorney) NOT to investigate his drinking habits.

    While we certainly should not be “bullying anyone into submission without FACTS” for ANY such situation. . . IN THIS CASE, the American public, with the consent of some members of the American Congress, were grossly manipulated and STOPPED from getting actually getting the “ALL” THE FACTS.

  34. Bill says:

    A couple drunk bimbos come forward with clearly political motives, with nothing but a story at the eleventh hour. I fail to see the merit in the allegations. What others see as credibility, I see as Trump Derangement Syndrome.

  35. Richard says:

    @ Sherry – here’s the deal with voting “party line” – 99% of the senate democrats were voting NO even BEFORE Kavanaugh was nominated. Plus they were willing to do ANYTHING necessary to prevent ANY nominee from being confirmed. That tells you everything you need to know about the democratic party. The deplorable’s of this country are fed up and are now willing to do ANYTHING to make sure that the democrats NEVER regain power as they did under do nothing Obama. Go ahead and vote BLUE asI am voting RED to cancel out YOUR vote.

  36. flagler1 says:

    Richard, I’d like to buy you a beer.

  37. Sherry says:

    Ahhhhh. . . when actual FACTS and logic is presented. . . the “cult” reverts to true form.

    We should never forget the FACT of the horrific Republican obstruction of the Merrick Garland nomination by . (twice elected) President Obama. That nomination went over 300 days with ZERO consideration by the Republican Congress!!!

    Women and people of color are rising up and claiming their EQUALITY! The last gasp of the chauvinistic, racist “old white men” is really, really pathetic and ugly!

    I’m just so pleased that “my” vote will cancel out YOURS, Richard! LOL!

  38. Richard says:

    I love it when democrats talk out the sides of their mouths and blatantly cast their double-standard.

    Quote: “Back in 1992 Joe Biden then a senator (I am sure you democrats remember him) gave a speech arguing that if a Supreme Court seat became vacant during the summer, President Bush should wait until after the election to appoint a replacement, or else appoint a moderate acceptable to the then-Democratic Senate. Little-noticed at the time, Republicans began to refer to this idea as the “Biden rule”. Biden responded that his position was, and remained, that the President and Congress should “work together to overcome partisan differences” regarding judicial nominations.”

    Well SO much for a sitting President and Congress working together to overcome partisan differences. Those days are GONE!

    Democrats today change the rules based on their needs and wants. If it “works” to their benefit then they will do anything to push it through, if it doen’t then they totally oppose and obstruct.

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