All of this drinking in high school stuff is bringing up a lot of memories for me, not all of which I’ll share because my mother doesn’t really need to have flashbacks or be triggered at this point in her life. On the matter of the drinking age, my memory of this mainly pertains to Vermont because it was one of the last states in the country to raise its age to 21, and they had a grandfather clause that affected people who graduated in the class before mine. It was of particular interest to me because my best friend growing up went to Middlebury College and my next door neighbor went to the University of Vermont.
I graduated in the spring of 1987, and Vermont had raised its drinking age on July 1, 1986. Anyone who was eighteen before that date was still allowed to drink in Vermont and, critically, purchase alcohol for their buddies. As a practical matter, this meant that anyone born more than fourteen months before me was legal up there. That included my next door neighbor. My best friend was actually a couple of months younger than me, so he was out of luck.
We talked about these things because they seemed pretty arbitrary and because they actually mattered to us since, much like Brett Kavanaugh, we really liked beer.
Maryland, where Kavanaugh grew up, went about the same process four years earlier. It changed its drinking age on July 1, 1982. It also used the grandfather clause, meaning that anyone who had been legally able to drink or buy alcohol would still be allowed to even if they were only eighteen. I imagine it created the same issue, where some people who were just slightly older were relied upon to purchase the alcohol that their peers were legally barred from obtaining themselves.
In any case, July 1, 1982 was a significant day for high school drinkers in Maryland. It was the first day under the new law and the day that changed everything. Brett Kavanaugh just missed the deadline and was not grandfathered in. He did have a fairly easy work-around, though. The District of Columbia was even later than Vermont in raising its drinking age. Its law went into effect on September 30, 1986, so Kavanaugh could drive ten miles south into the District and purchase beer, or drink in Georgetown bars. He did manage to mention this during his testimony, as though it was somehow exculpatory.
Where I lived in New Jersey, the process played out on January 1, 1983, when I was still in middle school. In high school, we didn’t have a ready supply of grandfathered acquaintances, so we had to be more creative. In our case, it helped to have a 21-year-old friend land a job as the delivery driver for a local liquor store. We just called in orders and viola!, the problem was solved. It worked for a while until too much suspicion was aroused and our great plan collapsed. Then we moved on to other schemes.
Because Kavanaugh had the odd habit of recording his social life in calendars that he preserved, we actually know what he did on the day Maryland screwed him over and jacked up the drinking age just before he became eligible. He wrote: “Tobin’s House — Workout / Go to Timmy’s for Skis w/ Judge, Tom, PJ, Bernie, Squi.”
On July 1, 1982, he went to Tim “Timmy” Gaudette’s house to drink beer with Mark Judge, Tom Kaine, P.J. Smyth, Bernie McCarthy, and Chris Garrett (a.k.a. Squi or Squee). It’s a good bet that the beer for this party was bought the night before.
Now this “Squi” character is interesting. He’s clearly listed on Kavanaugh’s calendar as having been in attendance at the July 1st brewski party at Tim Gaudette’s house. He’s also the person that conservative activist Ed Whelan tried to accuse of being the real perpetrator of the attempted rape of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.
But just when you think everything might be falling into place and making sense, there are two other things to consider. Dr. Ford did not list Chris Garrett as having been present at the party where she was assaulted. But she referred to him in her prepared statement to Congress:
“I had been friendly with a classmate of Brett’s for a short time during my freshman year, and it was through that connection that I attended a number of parties that Brett also attended.
Without naming him, she also testified that she “went out with” Garrett for a couple of months before the attempted rape incident and that he had provided her connection to Kavanaugh.
FORD: [Garrett] 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.
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. And — but there are certainly other members of Columbia Country Club that were common friends or they were more acquaintances of mine and friends of Mr. Kavanaugh.
Dr. Ford said she specifically recalled four boys being at the party where she was assaulted: “Brett Kavanaugh, Mark Judge, P. J. Smyth, and one other boy whose name I cannot recall.” If Squi had been the fourth boy, it seems like she would have remembered it since she had been dating him and knew him better than any of the other kids. It would also have increased the violation of protocol if Kavanaugh had assaulted Garrett’s recent girlfriend while Garrett was present.
But, as you know, there probably wasn’t too much honor involved with that crew. Dr. Ford didn’t go to one of the all-girls Catholic school with which he socialized, something Kavanaugh was eager to point out during his congressional testimony.
I was 17 years old, between my junior and senior years of high school at Georgetown Prep, a rigorous all-boys Catholic Jesuit High School in Rockville, Maryland. When my friends and I spent time together at parties on weekends, it was usually the — with friends from nearby Catholic all-girls high schools, Stone Ridge, Holy Child, Visitation, Immaculata, Holy Cross.
Dr. Ford did not attend one of those schools. She attended an independent private school named Holton-Arms and she was a year behind me. She and I did not travel in the same social circles.
Yet we know what Kavanaugh’s friends thought about the girls at Holton-Arms because Mark Judge and two other classmates wrote an underground newspaper called The Unknown Hoya and we have a copy of an article they published entitled “The Truth About Holton.”
Fifteen-year-old Christine Blasey was a “Holton Hosebag,” one of “the most worthless excuses of a female human.” All you needed to get her to have sex with you was a Montgomery County Public Library Card. You can understand why Judge and Kavanaugh might have considered Dr. Ford an easier mark than the more “moral” girls from Catholic schools. Give her a beer or two and she’ll do anything you want.
Still, the calendar says that Squi was there and Dr. Ford doesn’t remember it that way at all, and that’s a conflict that isn’t easy to resolve. Perhaps the assault didn’t happen on July 1, but there’s plenty of reason to believe that it occurred on or very near that date.
When Dr. Ford initially told her story about Kavanaugh, she wasn’t certain of the year it took place, but she remembered that she ran into Judge “six to eight weeks” later while he was working at the Potomac Village Safeway, a grocery store. We know he worked briefly at a grocery store in July/August of 1982 because he wrote about it in his book: Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Drunk.
This is the kind of detail she could not have made up, and it not only helps us place the time, but it gives her story a tremendous amount of credibility. Another thing that gives her credibility is that she could identify people thirty-six years later who were going to parties and drinking beer that match up with the people on Kavanaugh’s calendar. After all, she didn’t keep a calendar to help her refresh her memory, and by Kavanaugh’s account they did not even travel in the same social circles. How could she know that PJ, for example, wasn’t in Ireland with his parents the summer that Judge worked at Safeway? If she’d concocted this story, there would likely be easily refutable mistakes of that nature, but what we see instead are relatively minor discrepancies that could be explained by her partial memory of events.
Kavanaugh argued that his calendar somehow proves that her story is impossible and that he never even attended a gathering where Dr. Ford was present, but it really only helps us rule out certain dates on which this event could have taken place. July 1, 1982, is not one of those dates.
But focusing too much on the precise date, locale, and attendees runs the risk of losing the point of why we’re discussing this at all. We want to examine those things to see if we can corroborate Dr. Ford’s story. There’s actually almost no chance that we can verify that she’s telling the truth because there were no cameras recording the event. But if we could say that certain people could not have been present during that time period, that would call her account into serious question.
The problem for Kavanaugh is that nothing of that sort has emerged. She may have been wrong about the general vicinity of the house, but it’s clear that he did drink beers with this specific list of friends during this period of time. He was close friends with her short-time boyfriend Squi, who is listed more than a dozen times in Kavanaugh’s calendar entries from that summer, so she really was in his circle of friends. Mark Judge really did work at a local grocery store in the exact weeks that fit her story. Add to these factors the general level of credibility she provided in her testimony, and you have to think that she could not have made up this story even if she wanted to.
We also know that she’s been talking about being assaulted by a man who later became a federal judge for years now. She had, at times, mentioned Kavanaugh by name in conversations with friends and in therapy sessions with her husband. Her therapist documented this going back to 2012, long before she knew a Republican would be elected in 2016 and that Kavanaugh might be nominated to the Supreme Court. And she didn’t wait until Kavanaugh had actually been nominated to contact her congresswoman and ultimately one of her senators with this information. She reacted while President Trump was still weighing his options–placing Kavanaugh’s name on shortlist of potential nominees–and she thought she might be able to dissuade him from picking Kavanaugh.
This all adds up, for me, to someone who is telling the truth as best as they can remember it, and I think she remembers the most critical details well. That she took and passed a lie detector test doesn’t add much for me; I don’t put a lot of stock in lie detectors, but it certainly is one more example of a failure to discredit her story.
And what is her story, really? Why does it matter?
Dr. Ford began a conversation about Kavanaugh’s character. She raised a red flag. And that has allowed the whole world to step back and look more carefully at the kind of person Kavanaugh is and has been. He won’t tell the truth about nearly anything in his high school yearbook, calling “Devil’s Triangle” a drinking game and denying that he and other football players basically advertised that they’d run a train on a girl from a neighboring school. All the references to vomit he made in his yearbook and Beach Week letter are really just references to his “weak stomach,” which evidently followed him to New Haven. He can’t even be honest about the drinking age in Maryland. Instead of contrition or humility he spins out Clinton conspiracy theories to explain Ford’s motives.
Meanwhile, Kavanaugh’s supporters are left trying to raise doubt about whether Dr. Ford exaggerated her fear of flying or maybe knew how to cheat on a lie detector test. When I balance these things out, it’s clear to me that one person is a whole lot more credible than the other.
But this is not solely about what did or did not happen in that bedroom long ago. It’s about what this process has revealed about Kavanaugh. I believe Dr. Ford for many reasons, but what I believe now more than ever is that Kavanaugh should never sit on the Supreme Court. In fact, it’s quite possible he should be removed from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.