What Does ‘Credible’ Mean?
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Something is wrong with Christine Blasey Ford’s story, and not just the fact that none of the people she named as witnesses to her alleged 1982 encounter with Brett Kavanaugh remember any such incident. There is a conspicuous hole in Professor Ford’s biography — some important details seem to be missing — and we don’t know what the missing elements might be. The FBI has been assigned to conduct an investigation, which may or may not fill in this unexplained void in Professor Ford’s biography, which has been bothering me ever since I read a Sept. 22 Washington Post article with the headline, “Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford moved 3,000 miles to reinvent her life. It wasn’t far enough.”

The implied premise of the Post article was that the reason young Miss Blasey left the D.C. area after high school and never returned, except to visit her family, because she was traumatized by the experience of being assaulted by Kavanaugh at a house party. But this doesn’t make sense at all. By the time she started her senior year at Holton-Arms School, Kavanaugh was a freshman at Yale University, some 300 miles away in Connecticut. Even if young Miss Blasey were eager to leave the D.C. region, why would she choose to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill? UNC is a fine school, but there were and are many other equally good schools she could have chosen, and she’s never explained what it was specifically that led her to Chapel Hill. Of course, this choice may have no special significance or relevance to her recent accusations against Judge Kavanaugh, but if the explanation we’ve been given doesn’t make sense, shouldn’t we be curious what the real explanation is? And there are many similar questions that might cross the minds of Americans trying to figure out why she would tell this story which no one so far has been able to verify.

Over and over, TV news talking-heads and other pundits have used the word “credible” to describe Professor Ford and her accusation, but why? What’s so credible about her story? Well, it’s detailed and vivid, but the closer you examine the details, the more problems you encounter. Beyond Judge Kavanaugh’s emphatic denial that any such incident ever occurred, there is the obvious problem that Leland Keyser, a “lifelong friend” of Professor Ford, who was supposedly present at the 1982 house party, has said she’s never even met Judge Kavanaugh. The other two alleged attendees — Judge Kavanaugh’s Georgetown Prep classmates Mark Judge and Patrick “PJ” Smith — likewise deny any memory of either the party or the incident that Professor Ford has described.

The vivid details of Professor Ford’s story raise more questions about her credibility. She has insisted that the 1982 party was at a home near the Columbia Country Club, and her description of the alleged incident involves a two-story home with a specific floor plan. Ed Whelan, President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, was the first to point out that, while none of the others named by Professor Ford lived near the country club, Judge Kavanaugh’s friend and Georgetown Prep classmate Chris “Squi” Garrett did, and the floor plan of Garrett’s family home matched Professor Ford’s description. Whelan later retracted and apologized (“an appalling and inexcusable mistake of judgment”) for suggesting that this was a case of mistaken identity — i.e., that a superficial resemblance between Garrett and Kavanaugh might have caused Professor Ford to blame the wrong man. However, when the subject was raised during last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, the way Professor Ford answered this question was intriguing.

As Byron York of the Washington Examiner has pointed out, Professor Ford refused even to say Garrett’s name when she was asked about him by Rachel Mitchell, the prosecutor brought in by committee Republicans to question her. Here is the relevant portion of the hearing transcript:

MITCHELL: You mentioned that there was a classmate who was really sort of the connection between you and Brett Kavanaugh. Who was this person?
FORD: I — I think that that case with Mr. Whelan, who was looking at my LinkedIn page and then trying to blame the person, I just don’t feel like it’s right for us to be talking about that.
MITCHELL: I’m not trying to blame anybody, I just want to know who the common friend that you and…
FORD: The person that Mr. Whelan was trying to say looked like Mr. Kavanaugh.
MITCHELL: OK. How long did you know this person?
FORD: Maybe for a couple of months we socialized, but he also was a member of the same country club and I know his younger brother as well.
MITCHELL: OK. So a couple of months before this took place?
FORD: Yes.
MITCHELL: OK. How would you characterize your relationship with him, both before and after this took place, this person?
FORD: He was somebody that, we use the phrase, I went out with — I wouldn’t say date — I went out with for a few months. That was how we termed it at the time. And after that we were distant friends and ran into each other periodically at Columbia Country Club, but I didn’t see him often.
MITCHELL: OK.
FORD: But I saw his brother and him several times.
MITCHELL: Was this person the only common link between you and Mr. — Judge Kavanaugh?
FORD: He’s the only one that I would be able to name right now — that I would like to not name, but you know who I mean.

This raises several questions. Garrett and Judge Kavanaugh were close friends at the time and Garrett had previously “went out with” the accuser. Indeed, Garrett was her main “connection” to the Georgetown Prep crowd. Byron York makes the obvious point: “But if Garrett, who Ford has clear memories of, had been at the party, he would obviously be a witness in the matter, and someone the FBI would want to interview. His presence would also raise the question of why Ford has never mentioned him. She remembers a party from 36 years ago, remembers five people who were there, and doesn’t remember that the person she was closest to at the time was also there?”

Professor Ford’s story is “credible,” we have been repeatedly told. What does it mean, therefore, that her connection to Judge Kavanaugh and his friends — Garrett was “actually the person who introduced me to them originally,” Professor Ford testified last week — signed a letter in support of the judge’s Supreme Court nomination? Garrett has also said “he has no knowledge or information relating to her claims,” which would seem highly relevant to the most plausible theory floated by Democrats as to how Professor Ford’s claim might be true.

When and where did the party described by Professor Ford occur? In Friday’s Judiciary Committee hearing, Democrat Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse called attention to a date on the 1982 calendar that Judge Kavanaugh had fortuitously kept all these years. On July 1 of that year, 17-year-old Brett Kavanaugh recorded that he attended a party at his friend “Timmy” Gaudette’s house, where P.J. Smyth and Mark Judge were also present. As Whitehouse noted, this was the only entry on the calendar that placed together all three of the Georgetown Prep boys named by Professor Ford. However, Gaudette’s house was more than 10 miles from Columbia Country Club and Garrett was also among those who attended the July 1 party at Gaudette’s. The day after that party, Judge Kavanaugh’s 1982 calendar notes, he left for a Fourth of July weekend at the beach with Garrett. Is it possible that Professor Ford’s memory of the party’s location was wrong, and that the incident she described occurred instead at this gathering 10 miles from the country club? Yes, but there is still the problem that Professor Ford, who was 15 and too young to drive in 1982, says she has no idea how she got to the party or how she got home.

In a report prepared for Senate Republicans, the veteran sex-crimes prosecutor Mitchell described the numerous problems with Professor Ford’s account, including that she “has no memory of key details of the night in question — details that could help corroborate her account.” Furthermore, while the discrepancies in Professor Ford’s various tellings of this story may seem minor, Federalist contributor Margot Cleveland pointed out that the changes were actually rather strategic, making it more difficult to disprove her account. This raises a possibility that no Republican official wishes to state explicitly: What if it’s all a big lie? What if the alleged incident Professor Ford described never happened?

Now we return to those holes in Professor Ford’s biography that have been bothering me for the past 10 days. There seems to have been some reason young Miss Blasey wanted to get away from her home in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., and if her allegedly “traumatic” encounter with Brett Kavanaugh doesn’t explain it, what could the reason be? In the Sept. 22 Washington Post article about how she ended up 3,000 miles away in California, there is no mention of any other boyfriends she might have had between the summer of 1982 and 2001, when she met her husband through an online dating site. However, for eight years of that time, while at Pepperdine University, she dated a man named Brian Merrick, who told the Wall Street Journal that “at no point in their relationship did she mention… any case of sexual assault,” nor the name of Brett Kavanaugh: “It strikes me as odd it never came up in our relationship.” Merrick, however, mentioned that his ex-girlfriend was liberal, while her father was staunchly conservative — a fact apparently corroborated by her husband Russell Ford, who told the Post: “She didn’t always get along with her parents because of differing political views.”

Is this all just about politics? Could some deep-seated resentment toward her conservative family have inspired Christine Blasey Ford to invent a fictional tale of attempted rape in order to destroy a Republican nominee to the Supreme Court? As strange as such a suggestion may seem, it wouldn’t be the strangest tale stirred up by the fight over Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination. A man in Rhode Island last week contacted Sen. Whitehouse to claim he had caught Kavanaugh sexually attacking a woman in 1985. The Democrat Senator put the man in contact with the FBI, and also gave the man contact information for a reporter. It turned out the whole thing was a lie — the accuser quickly recanted his claim and may face prosecution for making a false report. And do we really need an FBI investigation to discredit the bizarre accusations made against Judge Kavanaugh by Julie Swetnick?

As David French of National Review argued Monday, “The sexual-assault claims against Kavanaugh are in a state of collapse.” The word “credible” is a synonym for believable, and it appears Democrats are willing to believe anything that might help them stop Judge Kavanaugh from being confirmed to the Supreme Court. Ultimately, however, it will come down to a matter of votes, and the latest poll out of North Dakota — where incumbent Democrat Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is facing a tough midterm election against GOP challenger Kevin Kramer — suggests many voters aren’t buying what the Democrats are selling. Not only has Cramer opened up a 10-point lead over Heitkamp, but North Dakota voters support Judge Kavanaugh by better than a 2-to-1 margin. If Heitkamp is defeated, it would probably eliminate any chance that Democrats could capture a Senate majority in November’s midterms. Resentment of the Democrats’ attacks on Judge Kavanaugh could also inspire strong enough turnout by Republican voters to help the GOP maintain its narrow majority in the House.

The latest TV ad from the Judicial Crisis Network is blunt: “The accusations against Brett Kavanaugh are a smear.” Featuring testimonials from women who have known him for years, the ad concludes: “It never happened. Confirm Kavanaugh.” That would be the most credible thing to do.

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