Christine Blasey Ford was astonishingly composed and accommodating during her testimony about her sexual-assault allegation against Brett Kavanaugh. The Supreme Court nominee, however, was the polar opposite during his time on the stand: petulant, belligerent, and indignant. His opening statement was, more than anything, a performance — and one that seemed to be clearly directed at his (white, male) Republican supporters. The threat it delivered: Imagine how you’d feel if — or when — you were in my position.
Ever since Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault earlier this month, the SCOTUS nominee has vocally denied the allegations, maintaining that he would never assault any woman. In his opening statement, he angrily and occasionally tearfully pushed back against the assault claims, insisting that he’s just a man who loves to crack open the occasional beer, pray with his daughters, and get nostalgic over a calendar. In his version of the story, he is the victim.
Below, all of the tactics Kavanaugh used in an attempt to prove himself as a man who deserves power, and is having his shot at attaining more unfairly threatened.
He painted himself as the victim.
Kavanaugh accused the Democrats of conspiring to keep him from power by characterizing him “evil.” He said this could have negative personal and professional impacts on his life.
“I love coaching basketball more than anything I have ever done in my life,” he said. “Thanks to what some of you on this side of the committee have unleashed, I may never be able to coach again.”
And the everyman.
Kavanaugh repeatedly brought up his love of classic American pastimes: drinking beer, working out, and playing football.
“I drank beer with my friends,” he said. “Almost everyone did. Sometimes I had too many beers. Sometimes others did. I liked beer. I still like beer.”
“There is a bright line between drinking beer — which I gladly do, and which I fully embrace — and sexually assaulting someone, which is a violent crime,” he continued. “If every American who drinks beer, or every American who drank beer in high school, is suddenly presumed guilty of sexual assault, it would be an ugly new place in this country.”
Repeatedly, over everything from his dad’s calendars to his family to lifting weights.
He brought up his daughter.
In an attempt to prove that he means no “ill will” to Ford and her family, Kavanaugh recalled one praying with his 10-year-old daughter and wife, during which the former allegedly asked to say a prayer for Ford.
“The other night, Ashley and my daughter Liza said their prayers,” she said through tears. “And little Liza, all of 10 years old said to Ashley, ‘We should pray for the woman.’ That’s a lot of wisdom from a 10-year-old.”
And all his female friends, who tell him he is a good person.
Kavanaugh claimed that he’s friends with quite a few women, and said one had even confided in him about being sexually assaulted.
“One of those women friends from college — a self-described liberal and feminist — sent me a text last night that said, ‘Deep breaths. You’re a good man, a good man, a good man,’” he said, holding back tears, before proceeding to read texts from two other women who support him.
He said his hurtful yearbook joke was meant to “show affection” to the woman it targeted.
In Kavanaugh’s senior yearbook, the phrase “Renate Alumni” appeared next to his portrait and a photo of himself and his friends; per a New York Times report, it was a reference to a woman named Renate Dolphin, who was one of the 65 women who signed a letter of support for Kavanaugh, but who was incredibly hurt when the Times told her about the phrase.
During his opening statement, Kavanaugh claimed that he “cringed” when he looked back on his yearbook, which he called a “disaster,” admitting that the Renate joke was one that saddened him in retrospect. But then he went back on the defensive: “That yearbook reference was meant to show affection, and that she was one of us,” he said, growing angry. “But in this circus, the media interpreted the term as [being] related to sex. It was not related to sex.”