Joe Henderson: Who ‘won’ the SCOTUS hearing? Nobody – Florida Politics

Joe Henderson: Who ‘won’ the SCOTUS hearing? Nobody

Politics is all about winning, and nowhere is that truer than the all-out war to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. That is why I am trying to find a winner after one of the most exhausting and extraordinary days anyone has experienced.

I. Just. Can’t.

Christine Blasey Ford was brave, believable, sympathetic, and forceful when she was asked how certain she was that Kavanaugh sexually attacked her more than 30 years ago when both were high school students.

Her answer, without hesitation: “100 percent.”

I believe her — and not because she came forward even after acknowledging in her opening statement that she was “terrified” to testify to the U.S. Senate committee that will recommend whether Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court should go forward.

There is no doubt she will look back on this experience as one of the worst periods of her life, and that pain showed throughout her testimony. She said she is haunted by Kavanaugh’s laughter after the encounter.

I think we all know how she would respond if someone suggested she “won” the day.

I admire the stand she took and the way she handled herself, but only she can say if it was worth the cost. Her life has been a living hell since she came forward — and will continue to be. That’s what this process does to people, and it’s disgusting.

What about the man she says committed that vile deed as a boy?

Kavanaugh’s anguish was clear during his combative and emotional opening statement. You would have to be a hell of an actor to fake that kind of pain. It was hard not to feel sympathy for him when he said he and his family have been “totally and permanently destroyed” by the resulting furor after Ford came forward. I have no doubt that it’s true.

A reputation, once lost, is hard to recover.

He thundered his innocence. He cried frequently. He choked up, knowing his carefully crafted reputation was unraveling before the entire nation. He was alternately combative and defiant, maybe figuring he had nothing to lose at this point.

No doubt many saw that as a man fighting an injustice being inflicted on him and his family.

But I’m also wondering what the reaction would have been if Ford had screamed at Senators and sobbed during her appearance, the way Kavanaugh did. Would she have been dismissed as too emotional and unhinged? Would that have cast doubt on the truthfulness of her testimony?

Even if Brett Kavanaugh ultimately is confirmed to SCOTUS — which I wouldn’t bet on and I doubt he truly believes will happen either — it won’t be a win. He’ll carry these scars for the rest of his life. What happened during testimony Thursday will be in the first sentence of his obituary.

And as far as the Senate?

Big losers.

Democrats embarrassed themselves while grilling Kavanaugh about stuff in his high school yearbook that appeared to be about barfing and flatulence. I would say it’s beneath the dignity of the Senate, except I don’t think there is any depth to which these politicians won’t sink.

I thought Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina might have tilted the scale a little bit in Kavanaugh’s favor with his blustering outburst defending the nominee from what he called a “sham” process.

“You’re looking for a fair process? You came to the wrong town at the wrong time, my friend,” Graham thundered, his face turning red, blood vessels bulging.

I might have been inclined to give Graham’s words more heed if minutes later he hadn’t brushed off a woman in the lobby who told him she had been raped. He told her to go to the cops, then got into an elevator. 

That is really what it comes down to – the attitude that many in the Party of Donald Trump, who nominated Kavanaugh, seem to have toward women and what they endure. They attack the victim. They dismiss. They smear.

Republican Senators, one by one, told Kavanaugh how much sympathy they felt for what he has endured.

What about Ford, and what she has endured?

What about what the nation has endured, and how divided it will be after this?


Find one. I sure can’t.

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  1. Neil Gorsuch didn’t have a problem getting confirmed…there was even several Democrats who voted for him. And there’s a reason Gorsuch didn’t have any problem getting confirmed….he isn’t a creep with women. I’m sorry but Kavenough is a creep and he dors NOT have the temperament to be a Supreme Court Justice…
    I have never seen a more partisan judge in my life…and he was clearly playing to an audience of one yesterday: Donald Trump. Also…if I was accused of something and my friend could clear me…i would DEMAND that my friend come testify under oath. Funny that Kavenough is so AGAINST having the FBI investigate…you’d think HE would WANT one…instead of the other way around. So I believe Dr Ford. She was extremely credible. I think many of the GOP believed her as well, but that won’t stop them for voting for Kavenough. Very sad day for America.

    1. Judy I think you have a few things wrong here…. Biden is a Creep around women, and young girls. At least from photo’s I have seen. The only people to come forward with accusations of sexual abuse are from 35 years or so. He has dealt with many women in his profession, where are those accusations? Blumenthal said something about if you lie once you will lie again… saying this against Kavanaugh. But during questioning we found that Ford lied about not being able to fly there and that she would have to drive.

    2. oops missed something… Kavanaugh worries about his friends. Even though they are not close he knows his friend is not comfortable in crowds because of personal problems and you can see it pains him when his friends are beat down by the media which is definitely the only thing they are going to do. Like they said Kavanaugh is a good man, he would make a great addition, he has had 5 or 6 FBI investigations already, but when the Democrats don’t want someone in office there is always something sexual popping up…. does if have to be the truth.. ? NO, just as long as it gets the job done. I hope that even if Kavanaugh makes it that Trump gets an FBI investigation going….. I’d love to know how the rest of Ford’s high school partying days and college days look like… Are they full of fear like she wants us to believe or is she just one big partier……… everything has been removed….

  2. Many issues here: The Republicans are at the height of hypocrisy in claiming a need to rush this appointment when Scalia’s vacancy remained open for a year and they denied Garland a hearing. Kavanaugh displayed anything but judicial temperament in his statement while wildly attacking Democrats and “leftists” with his behavior bordering on the belligerent. Taking his life and career holistically, in spite of the number of women he has hired, when you consider his privileged upbringing, a private all male school, his earlier comments emphasizing his volunteer work with “men” during high school and college, it’s not hard to see how he’s hardwired and how that relates to his alleged behavior and how that may influence his decisions in cases such as Garza that imply a governmental right to control a woman’s behavior. Kavanaugh seemed to react as one who did something wrong years ago but got caught and he flailed out defensively in response. Yes, his reputation may be harmed, but while his outburst focused on him and his career, we must keep in mind the good of more than 330 million people. Dr. Ford came across as measured, quite specific within context, and very credible and with the professional expertise to explain why certain details may not be memorable. In conjunction with all we know about Judge Kavanaugh, and with other claims pending, at a minimum this is all cause for pause. Judge Kavanaugh will still have a good job if he is not selected, but the combination of his known behavior, display of instability, and the unanswered questions make him too big of a gamble to serve on the highest court of the land for life with little chance for recourse.

  3. GOP — the party of white male privilege and Rapieness. If you vote GOP, you support “Grab ’em by the pussy…. ” You can’t weasel out of that. Kavanaugh was chosen to protect the pussy grabber–he failed his job interview. The gop should go back and choose a more believable right wing hack.