Friday, September 21, 2018

Kavanaugh and Underage Drinking

Mark Graber

Too many young men drink to excess.  When they drink to excess, they often become boisterous.  They engage in disorderly conduct.  They utter and scream racial, ethnic, gender, and other epithets.  They vandalize and destroy property.  They drive drunk.  They pick fights with each other and perfect strangers.  They assault women.  They damage, ruin or destroy their lives and the lives of their victims.

Most of these young men mature.  They learn how to moderate their drinking or how to moderate their behavior when drinking.  They become solid citizens, valuable employees, respected professionals and community leaders.  They are faithful spouses and loving parents to their sons and daughters.  The drunken escapades of their past become little more than foggy romanticized memories. Until this week, the central question raised by this pattern of behavior for many persons was how they should regard apparently distinguished and decent persons they remember as drunken frat boys (for the record, I am a lifelong oblivious teetotaler, who spent most weekend evenings in high school and college playing chess or bridge).  For Americans today, this pattern of behavior is crucial to determining whether Brett Kavanaugh should sit on the Supreme Court.

The practice of underage male drinking in the United States supports both Christine Blasey Ford's and Mark Judge’s account of what happened at a drunken teenage bash in North Bethesda thirty-five years ago.  As numerous accounts by women who attended all-girls schools in Montgomery county attest, male sexual assaults on women during underage drinking parties were and are unfortunately common.  What Ms. Ford claims happened to her happened to many women of her generation.  Mark Judge’s claim that he has no recollection of the events is also plausible.  Underage drinkers often cannot remember what they did the morning after events take place much less thirty-five years later.

Brett Kavanaugh’s denials are far less believable.  In previous speeches, he has acknowledged and romanticized his past excessive drinking habits.  Substantial evidence exists that Kavanaugh was blind drunk at various points during his youth.   If he can say with confidence that he never assaulted Christine Blasey Ford, he may be the only adult male in the United States who can remember with perfect clarity everything he did during repeated bouts of drunkenness in the past.  This is hardly air-tight proof that the attempted rape occurred.  The claim is only that Kavanaugh cannot possible remember whether, during his apparently repeated bouts of drunkenness, he ever threw up in a car, broke a window, ran naked in the living room or assaulted a woman.  That Kavanaugh has demonstrated, at the very least, a willingness to make very misleading self-serving statements under oath casts further doubt on his veracity.

The Kavanaugh nomination should go down because he has consistently put the needs of the Republican Party before the Constitution and the country.  The Kavanaugh nomination should go down because Republicans have steadily refused to provide the country with the documents needed to evaluate Kavanaugh’s past service in the Bush administration.  The Kavanaugh nomination should go down because even on the basis of the limited record Republicans have provided, Kavanaugh lacks the integrity demanded of a Supreme Court justice.  The Kavanaugh nomination should go down because his claim to remember what happened when blind drunk is not credible.

The Kavanaugh nomination should go down even if Kavanaugh was honest enough to admit he has no memory of everything he did when blind drunk.  For thirty-five years, Brett Kavanaugh has romanticized his underage drinking, inspiring other ambitious young men to drink to excess, confident that their behaviors will have little bearing on their professional lives once as adults they moderate their drinking or moderate their drinking behavior.  If Kavanuagh goes down, somewhere in North Bethesda or elsewhere, an ambitious young man might decide not to attend an underage drinking party or to moderate his drinking behavior at such affairs.  One less neighbor may be be woken up at three in the morning.  One less racial epithet may be uttered.  One less window may be broken.  One less drunk driving accident may occur.  One less woman may be sexually assaulted.  One less drinker and one less victim may have their lives not damaged, ruined or destroyed.

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