Law & the Courts

Democrats’ High-School-Hijinks Standard Flunks Redemption Test

Extracts of Brett Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook are displayed behind Senators Patrick Lahey, Dick Durban, and Sheldon Whitehouse, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., September 27, 2018. (Saul Loeb/Reuters )
Where would we all be if we were judged for life based on our 18-year-old selves?

Oscar Wilde once observed, “The only difference between saints and sinners is that every saint has a past while every sinner has a future.”

These wise words are utterly lost on Senate Democrats, left-wing agitators, and their maids and butlers in the liberal media. As they degrade Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation into hell on earth, they ignore his twelve years on the federal bench and 306 judicial opinions. Instead, they obsess over his high-school yearbook entries, adolescent alcohol intake, and the ice cubes he threw at a fellow bar patron in 1985.

In further breaking news, Kavanaugh’s long-forgotten letter to seven Georgetown Prep schoolmates surfaced Tuesday. While organizing their 1983 visit to Ocean City, Md., Kavanaugh jokingly offered “a good idea . . . warn the neighbors that we’re loud, obnoxious drunks with prolific pukers among us. Advise them to go about 30 miles.” Kavanaugh also explained: “The danger of eviction is great and that would suck because of the money and because this week has big potential. (Interpret as wish).”

This set critics’ tongues flapping.

“If you’re going to set yourself up to be a choirboy, there had damn well better be evidence that you are a choirboy,” CNN host Don Lemon scolded. Anchor Chris Cuomo added, “You better be able to sing.”

But Kavanaugh never claimed to be a choirboy. In fact, as the Senate Judiciary Committee dissected him on September 27, Kavanaugh mentioned “beer” or “beers” 46 times.

“Yes, we drank beer,” Kavanaugh testified. “My friends and I, the boys and girls. Yes, we drank beer. I liked beer. Still like beer. We drank beer.”

He and his pals, Kavanaugh admitted, “sometimes probably had too many beers, and sometimes other people had too many beers.”

Kavanaugh began keeping calendars “in ninth grade, in 1980.” They included, he said, “about what you would expect from a kid; some goofy parts, some embarrassing parts.”

But this sinner had a future.

Kavanaugh grew up, worked in President G. W. Bush’s White House, and served on the D.C. Circuit Court, arguably SCOTUS’s J.V. team.

Where would we all be if we were judged for life based on our 18-year-old selves?

Consider the man who penned these words:

“I spent the last two years of high school in a daze,” Barack Obama wrote in Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. “I kept playing basketball, attended classes sparingly, drank beer heavily, and tried drugs enthusiastically. I discovered that it didn’t make any difference whether you smoked reefer in the white classmate’s sparkling new van, or in the dorm room of some brother you’d met down at the gym, or on the beach with a couple of Hawaiian kids who had dropped out of school and now spent most of their time looking for an excuse to brawl.”

And don’t forget Obama’s use of “blow” — a.k.a. cocaine. As he wrote about high school, “Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it.”

But Obama got focused, turbocharged his ambitions, and served two terms as president of the United States — the only fact on which his sharply divided fans and foes agree.

Asked if he ever smoked pot, Dana Rohrabacher laughed on Politically Incorrect, “I did everything but drink the bong water.” He became one of President Reagan’s speechwriters. He currently is running in Orange County, Calif., for his 16th term as a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

New York magazine wondered if Michael Bloomberg had smoked marijuana. “You bet I did,” he said. “And I enjoyed it.” Bloomberg served twelve years as mayor of America’s largest city. He has flourished in business, before and since. His estimated net worth: $49.8 billion.

A young man named Stephen Breyer attended Stanford University in the 1950s. As the Washington Post reported, he was “arrested at one point for underage drinking.” Nonetheless, he excelled in the law and, in July 1994, the Senate voted 87–9 to confirm him as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Lest I judge and not be judged, please allow me to accuse myself of the following 36-year-old acts:

Late one Saturday night at Georgetown University, a few of my freshman dormitory floormates and I had savored more than our fair share of beer. We did so legally, thanks to the local drinking age, which was 18. Several mischievous young men — who were at least as hammered as I was — talked me into streaking the girls’ floor, just above the level that 100 of us guys shared. After my pals greeted my stunt with uproarious laughter and high-fives, they persuaded me to run back upstairs amid the giggling girls and moon their female resident adviser. That done, even more hilarity erupted among us male teenagers. I went to sleep as their hero.

Sunday morning brought consequences. My R.A.’s sharp knock on the door turned my “heroism” into trouble. I apologized to the girls’ R.A. and accepted the gracious wisdom of resident director Jack DeGioia. In so many words, he urged me to have a good time in college, but not that good a time in college. Today, Jack DeGioia is president of Georgetown University.

Meanwhile, the merry prankster floormate who most energetically encouraged my misbehavior that night sometimes vanished from school for days and followed the Grateful Dead. He advanced to law school and great success as a prosecutor in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Also, as a sophomore, I was arrested for kindling a bonfire on April 2, 1984, the night that Georgetown beat the University of Houston for the NCAA basketball championship. I tossed old newspapers onto a burning tree trunk that other students had ignited to celebrate that towering athletic achievement. After giving another student and me a free ride in a squad car, cops at the local precinct took my thumbprint, charged me a $10 administrative fee, and set me free.

The next afternoon, I went to the office of Senator Orrin G. Hatch (R., Utah) to perform my internship duties, as I did between 1982 and 1985. Later that year, I was an officer (assistant chief page) of the 1984 Republican National Convention. I graduated Georgetown cum laude, earned an MBA at New York University, and have been immeasurably fortunate to enjoy a career as a print, online, and TV opinion journalist, free-market think-tank scholar, and conservative activist. Far from a saint, I remain a sinner with a future.

Thus, Democrats must stop submitting Kavanaugh’s youth to a post-facto breathalyzer test. If he had a drinking problem, so did millions of American boys and girls who attended college in the early-to-mid 1980s — an era that took its behavioral cues less from St. Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae and more from Caddyshack, Animal House, and Blazing Saddles. Many of us, to one degree or another, now run this country. These likely include once-wasted collegians who became adults and now write newspaper stories and TV scripts that condemn Kavanaugh for doing exactly what they did at the same age.

Here is a rarely asked question: Has Judge Kavanaugh done anything juvenile, inappropriate, or illegal in the past 25 years? Can we please focus on this and not his high-school hijinks?

Deranged, destructive, scorched-earth Democrats have gone Dresden on forgiveness, redemption, and the ability of people to supersede spotty histories, rescue themselves, and lead exemplary lives. That is unless you’re Representative Keith Ellison (D., Minn.), in which case you are totally absolved of allegedly abusing your ex-girlfriend physically and verbally, way back in . . . 2016.

Brett Kavanaugh should be confirmed for the Supreme Court, not crucified upon a cross of golden ale. Senator Hatch said it best: “Like Dr. Ford, Judge Kavanaugh deserves fair treatment. He was an immature high-schooler. So were we all.”

Deroy Murdock — Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online.

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