It’s a big, big news day.
But sorry, Associated Press: As dramatic as it is, today’s Kavanaugh-Ford testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee does not rise to the level of the John F. Kennedy assassination, the Challenger explosion or 9/11. Not even close.
As my friend John Dobbs put it on Twitter, “Are you insane?”"
Seriously, whoever is tweeting to AP’s 12.9 million followers might want to tone down the historical comparisons. Today’s hearing, it seems to me, is more comparable to past live TV news dramas, such as the Thomas-Hill experience of 1991 — only on steroids in the social media era.
That said, I’ll confess that I’ve been glued to the live feed on my computer all day, so much so that I’m rushing to type this post during a 15-minute break this afternoon.
Since this is GetReligion, we need a religion angle: Enter the uber-talented Emma Green of The Atlantic with a nuanced piece published Wednesday on why Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, “is a test for the conservative legal movement.”
Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination was secured by a conservative legal movement that takes a very particular form. It is strongly aligned with pro-life groups. Many of its leaders are Catholic. And, contrary to common stereotypes on the left, a significant number of its architects are women.
As the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares to hear testimony on Thursday from Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, one of three women who have accused him of sexual misconduct, the movement that put Kavanaugh in place is facing its own series of tests: how it treats alleged victims of abuse, how reflexively it aligns with Donald Trump’s administration, and whether it’s more committed to securing the truth or securing a win for the Republican Party. Within the movement, key leaders say Ford’s allegations and others that have followed are either a smear or a mistake. They believe Kavanaugh’s fervent denials and remain committed to moving his nomination forward. Outside of Washington, conservative women and pro-lifers are closely watching the leaders who have come to represent them, wondering whether their priority is politics or justice.
While Kavanaugh speaks often of his Catholic faith (see Terry Mattingly’s post from earlier this week on the nominee’s use of “the V-word”), The Atlantic notes accuser Ford’s own ties to a religiously affiliated institution:
Ford, the first accuser, spent at least part of her professional life inside a conservative religious world: She completed a graduate degree and served as a visiting professor at Pepperdine University, which is part of the largely evangelical Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. Cindy Miller-Perrin, a psychology professor who knew Ford when she was at the school in the late 1990s, said that faith often comes up in hiring conversations, and that Ford’s extended time there suggests she is or was supportive of the school’s mission. Watching an old colleague become the target of a charged, partisan conversation has been frustrating, she told me. “For me, it’s not a political issue, as much as: Do I believe what she said?” Miller-Perrin said. “And I do, personally.”
I’ll resist the urge to copy all of Green’s excellent story but encourage you to read it all.
In the meantime, Kavanaugh’s faith came up, as expected, during his emotional opening statement this afternoon.
I’ll end with a few tweets from Godbeat pros, including Green, citing that testimony.