Brett kavanaugh
Credit: C-SPAN/Screengrab

It has to come to this.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s long-rumored accuser has gone public (after a crucial period of delay in which Dianne Feinstein inexplicably withheld not just the identity of the accuser as she requested, but also the much more important information of the allegations.)

The accusation itself is chilling:

Speaking publicly for the first time, Ford said that one summer in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh and a friend — both “stumbling drunk,” Ford alleges — corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teenagers at a house in Montgomery County.

While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.

“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” said Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”

Ford said she was able to escape when Kavanaugh’s friend and classmate at Georgetown Preparatory School, Mark Judge, jumped on top of them, sending all three tumbling. She said she ran from the room, briefly locked herself in a bathroom and then fled the house.

In addition, Kavanaugh and his friend are also alleged to have turned up the music in the room to muffle the sound of her screams of protest. They are, of course, denying the accusation. But the accuser is highly credible. Nor would these allegations be terribly surprising from someone who listed himself in high school as “treasurer of the Keg City Club–100 Kegs or Bust.” Yes, it’s high school, but really?

Not that any of the following should matter, as accusers should be believed regardless of their station in life or whether they told their story previously, but it’s worth noting nonetheless that Christine Blasey Ford is a respected professor and that she told her story back in 2012 during a couples therapy session. These aren’t the politically motivated allegations of a fame seeker or Democratic operative. She has also passed a polygraph test, for whatever that is worth.

Legally, Kavanaugh is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. But a Supreme Court nomination isn’t a criminal trial, and an explosive allegation of this nature should instantly derail the confirmation process of a being chosen to preside over the highest court in the country, one that will have enormous power over women’s bodies and their fundamental rights.

It seems like outrageous hyperbole, but we must confront the dystopian reality.  A president credibly accused of multiple sexual assaults and who bragged forcibly grabbing women by the genitals without their consent, who was helped into office by a large number of men in powerful media positions who have also been forced out their jobs due to allegations of sexual harassment and assault as well as by the clandestine government services of a nation famous for its misogynistic exploitation of women, is nominating someone accused of attempted rape to the Supreme Court with the express intent of eliminating women’s right to an abortion and other reproductive health services.

And a Republican Party which recently endorsed a Senate candidate credibly accused of statutory rape against teenagers, and whose favored candidate for next Speaker of the House is alleged to have long ignored sexual predation on his charges while he was coach, is preparing to go full steam ahead in confirming him.

This is Handmaid’s Tale territory, but it’s the reality in which we live.

Are there even two decent Republican Senators who will look this in the face, see it for what it is, and step forward to do the right thing? Or will the Republican Party cement itself forever as the party of sexually abusive and misogynistic old white men?

David Atkins

Follow David on Twitter @DavidOAtkins. David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.