The Corner

U.S.

On Jennifer Rubin’s Bizarre Critique of Brett Kavanaugh

Jennifer Rubin on MSNBC in September (image via YouTube)

Jennifer Rubin has offered up a downright bizarre column in the Washington Post, in which she describes Kavanaugh’s categorical denial of the accusations against him as “odd.”

What, per Rubin, is “odd” about his “response”?

  1. That he calls his accuser his “accuser,” rather than by her name.
  2. That he states for the record that he had no idea who was accusing him until yesterday.
  3. That, having twice categorically, unequivocally, adamantly denied the charges — and offered to discuss the matter at length before the Senate — he doesn’t go into every detail of the charge.
  4. That he notes that the alleged incident happened 36 years ago.
  5. That, having been accused of being a would-be rapist, he makes “his present credibility the issue.”
  6. That he has retained a lawyer. (“Honestly,” Rubin writes, “I cannot figure out exactly why he wants or needs a lawyer.”)

None of these things is “odd.” Not one of them. Of course Kavanaugh believes that his “present credibility” is “the issue.” So would anyone protesting his innocence. What else could possibly be “the issue” in such circumstances? And of course he has retained a lawyer. This isn’t an episode of Law and Order, in which a pair of smirking, wisecracking cops tell an innocent suspect that “only guilty people” need lawyers. He’s a judge, in the middle of a national confirmation battle, whose alleged actions have been sent to the FBI. If Jennifer Rubin believes that it’s a “PR” problem for a man in that position to retain counsel, she should go and live in Cuba.

As for the more substantive complaints, one can easily see how Kavanaugh’s having done the precise opposite in these instances would have yielded the precise opposite complaints from Rubin. Had Kavanaugh named his accuser, Rubin would presumably have complained that he was siccing his political allies on her and trying to gin up a mob. Had Kavanaugh said that he suspected all along that the accuser was Christine Blasey Ford — or, alternatively, had he stayed totally silent on that matter — Rubin would have suggested that his suspicions revealed a guilty conscience, or, alternatively, that his silence seemed “odd.” Had Kavanaugh not mentioned that the accusation was of bad conduct three-and-a-half decades back, Rubin would have asked what he had to hide more recently. And so on, and so forth.

One is almost impressed by how effortlessly Rubin manages to have it both ways. When complaining that Kavanaugh’s statement did not affirm that he “didn’t know Ford,” that “he didn’t drink to excess in High School,” or that he didn’t attend “parties such as the one described by Ford,” she strokes her chin and casts his silence as an potential admission of guilt. But when he does include details — such as that he didn’t know who was accusing him until yesterday, or that the charge was 36 years old — that, too, is taken as a warning sign. Kavanaugh’s “statement,” Rubin gripes, “is intriguing for what it does and doesn’t say.” Not really, no. What is “intriguing” is how this opportunistic dreck was ever published in the Post. Is it really too much to wait for the hearing in which Kavanaugh has promised fully to engage?

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