Roughly Speaking Dan Rodricks: Commentary and conversation on life in Baltimore, Maryland and the USA

Andy Harris calls Kavanaugh accuser a 'troubled woman,' suggesting she can't be trusted

Rep. Andy Harris, calling the Senate Judiciary Committee’s supplemental hearing on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh “an atrocity,” described Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accuses Kavanaugh of a sexual attack while both were in high school, a “troubled woman” with “psychological problems.” Harris, a Republican who represents Maryland’s 1st congressional district, made the remarks on a Washington-area radio station.

I suppose you could accept Harris’ comments on Ford as merely descriptive, even declare them somewhat sympathetic. But, to do that, you’d have to bend over backward so far you would hurt yourself. I think his comments are best viewed as vile.

“I watched his accuser’s testimony,” Harris said Thursday, the day of the hearing, on The Larry O’Connor Show on WMAL. “She is a troubled woman, there is no question about it. She admits it. She has psychological problems.”

Indeed, as Ford testified last week, she has experienced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, including anxiety, claustrophobia and panic, and has been in therapy — in large measure due to the attack she says Kavanaugh inflicted on her 36 years ago in Montgomery County. Ford was 15 at the time of the attack, Kavanaugh 17. Kavanaugh vehemently denies Ford’s allegation.

Yes, Andy Harris is correct: The woman has had problems in life. (She’s also had a successful career as a research psychologist and professor of psychology in California, and testified with clinical expertise about her challenges.)

But Harris, this “busy and insinuating rogue” — please enjoy the Shakespeare — suggests, with his emphasis on Ford’s psychological symptoms and no acknowledgement of their cause, that the woman is not to be believed or trusted. It is not merely obtuse or upside-down thinking on Harris’ part; it’s meant to suggest mental instability.

My suspicions about the intent of the congressman’s words were reinforced moments later in the radio interview when Harris used the term “false allegation” and said he believed Kavanaugh’s angry denial.

“I think it boils down to the veracity of this particular claim she makes and then whether or not the judge [Kavanaugh] came across as believable,” said Harris. “I think his impassioned opening was entirely believable.”

“God forbid,” he added, “that I or anyone else should ever be put in the position of a false accusation, with literally almost half of the country saying you’re guilty before they heard anything. That’s a terrible position to be in, especially for someone of that character ...”

Harris said nothing about Ford’s character, evidenced by her willingness to come forward to testify, in the midst of a tribal battle over the future of the Supreme Court, after burying her story for more than three decades. The Republican congressman was all-in for Kavanaugh.

Apparently uninterested in the merits of Ford’s accusations, Harris dismissed the Senate hearing as “an atrocity” and called it a “power play” by Democrats. It’s the Democrats, he said, and not the Republicans — who currently control both houses of Congress and the White House, and who want to stack the Supreme Court with a conservative majority for years to come — who crave absolute power.

Harris dipped into the right-wing conspiracy cauldron — more Shakespeare here: “Double, double toil and trouble” — to make his case: “It is clear and apparent what this is all about. This is all about a power play and let no person stand in the way, no matter how honest, because they will character-assassinate anyone to get what they want, which is absolute power in the government.”

Harris is up for re-election next month. His Democratic opponent is Army veteran Jesse Colvin.

drodricks@baltsun.com

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