Republicans are determined to blame and discredit Brett Kavanaugh's alleged victim — no matter how credible she is, and no matter how bad it makes them look.
How stupid do Brett Kavanaugh's defenders think we are? Incredibly stupid, judging by the barrage of flailing, contradictory excuses Republicans have made over the last 24 hours to try to convince Americans it's no big deal that Trump's Supreme Court nominee has been accused of a violent attempted rape.
First, Republicans tried to argue that the allegations couldn't be taken seriously because they were anonymous.
Then Kavanaugh's accuser, 51-year-old professor Christine Blasey Ford, went public to the Washington Post — complete with years-old evidence to back up her claims about what happened at a party in Maryland when she was 15 years old and Kavanaugh was 17.
Suddenly, the allegations got much harder for Republicans to deny — but that didn't stop them from trying.
Here is a short list of some of the most embarrassing excuses Kavanaugh's GOP defenders have come up with to look the other way from these shocking allegations:
1) This is somehow an 11th-hour distraction — even though Ford first told her therapist about the incident six years ago, and first came forward anonymously in July.
Before Ford's identity was revealed, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said he wouldn't let Kavanaugh's confirmation be delayed "because of an 11th hour accusation that Democrats did not see fit to raise for over a month."
Plenty of Republicans are sticking with that strategy even now that Ford is no longer anonymous.
As Bloomberg reported Monday morning, Trump and his team are already making plans to smear Ford — specifically, to "try to discredit the charges for surfacing late in the confirmation process and to question the credibility of the accuser because she didn’t tell anybody about the incident at the time."
But if all of this was an elaborate plot to derail Trump's nomination, it would have to be very elaborate indeed. Ford would have either needed to lie to her therapist six years ago, or to lie about wanting to remain anonymous when she first disclosed her attack to the press and members of Congress earlier this summer — long before Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings started.
Anticipating that her credibility would be attacked, Ford took and passed a polygraph test about her allegations. She also gave the Post two sets of notes from therapy sessions, dating back to 2012 and 2013, in which she discussed the incident and its long-term effects on her.
Ford contacted the Washington Post through a tip line in early July, when it became clear that Trump might nominate Kavanaugh, but asked to stay anonymous. She also wrote to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) in late July, but requested that her story not be shared until she had a chance to discuss the matter personally.
Feinstein honored her request, until word of the letter's existence leaked to the press. Ford only decided to go public, the Post reports, because a bare-bones version of the story was already out there, she was already getting contacted by reporters, and she decided she needed to tell the story on her terms.
2) Ford didn't tell anybody about the assault at the time, so she's probably lying.
This idea is part of Trump's planned attack, as mentioned above. It's also a common theme among other Republicans like Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), whose spokesman said the real “disturbing” thing about the story was that it's only coming out now after 35 years.
If hearing this line of attack gives you deja vu, it probably means you haven't been living under a rock during the entire Me Too movement. It's the same line of attack that was used against Bill Cosby's victims, and Harvey Weinstein's victims, and against pretty much anybody who finally gets the courage to speak out against a powerful man after staying silent for years.
It's very common for women to wait decades to go public about a traumatic assault — or to never go public about it at all — because reliving trauma is extremely difficult, and because our society has a nasty habit of blaming and disbelieving victims.
Ford's alleged assault was extremely traumatic. She told the Post that a "stumbling drunk" Kavanaugh tried so violently to rip her clothes off that she was worried he'd accidentally kill her, that he covered her mouth when she tried to scream, and that she only managed to escape after Kavanaugh's friend, who was also there, jumped on top of both of them.
It took Ford decades, and a few rounds of therapy, to figure out all the ways the assault had affected her life.
3) Ford is somehow "mixed up" about who attacked her (translation: she's lying)
Either way, based on this conversation with Kavanaugh, Hatch now says he thinks Ford is "mixed up" or "mistaken" about the whole thing.
Not necessarily that she wasn't assaulted, but that she just ... wasn't assaulted by who she thought she was.
The notes from Ford's therapist say her attackers went to "an elitist boys’ school” and had become “high-ranking members of society in Washington."
The notes don't name Kavanaugh specifically, but they make clear that Ford knew exactly who attacked her in the incident that still haunted her years later. That's not the sort of thing you just mistake or forget.
4) Ford is lying because ... no good reason really, she's just a liar.
Kavanaugh's initial denial was blanket and nonspecific. He just said the incident never happened — which also suggested Ford was lying.
Other Republicans and conservative commentators also cast doubt on Ford's allegations for no particular reason. They said we don't know if she is telling the truth, but didn't say why we should doubt her.
As Town Hall political editor Guy Benson put it, Ford "may be telling the truth—or she could be making it up/misremembering key details. We don’t know."
5) If Ford is telling the truth, it doesn't matter — because Kavanaugh was young at the time, or because he's just a really good guy now.
“If that was true, I think it would be hard for senators to not consider who the judge is today,” Hatch said Monday. “That’s the issue. Is this judge a really good man? And he is. And by any measure he is.”
Fox News contributor Ari Fleischer questioned whether violently attempting rape in high school should "deny us chances later in life."
Becoming a Supreme Court justice is just about the highest honor in the legal profession. Kavanaugh isn't owed this position, and credible allegations that he committed a serious crime at any point in his life should be taken very seriously.
6) Ford might be telling the truth, but we don't need her to publicly testify or to delay Kavanaugh's hearing in any way.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that if the committee is to hear from Ford, it should be done right away so that the vote can continue as scheduled — which suggests he's not really interested in hearing what Ford has to say.
Grassley has said the committee doesn't need to hear from Ford in person, and that it should be enough for committee members to talk to her on the phone.
Late Monday, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) said there will be a public hearing, without providing any further details.
7) Whether or not Ford is telling the truth, all men should be terrified.
A lawyer close to the White House told Politico, "If somebody can be brought down by accusations like this, then you, me, every man certainly should be worried."
Shareblue's executive editor, Jess McIntosh, had the best response to this one.
Men who are concerned this accusation might have some bearing on your behavior:
Have you ever turned the music up to drown out the screams of the girl you were trying to force yourself on?
Good. Now get mad with us about this. We need you.
— jess mcintosh (@jess_mc) September 17, 2018
And if you're still a man worried that some random woman might make up a totally fake story about you, just read this thoroughly researched article by Sandra Newman about what false rape allegations (which are rare but do happen) have in common.
Spoiler alert: fake rape allegations are easy to spot, but stories like Ford's are what real assaults look like — the ones that happen every day.
And stories like Ford's are what powerful men like Kavanaugh, and their defenders like the entire Republican Party, go to great pains to discredit every day.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.