In a process filled with unprecedented moments — most of them awful — chalk up another first. The Wall Street Journal has published an extraordinary essay from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, explaining the passion and anger he vented at last week’s hearing. Kavanaugh writes that he allowed his emotions get the best of him at times, but reminds readers that he wasn’t there as a judge — but as a man defending his reputation and family in the middle of a public circus and against unsubstantiated allegations of a horrid nature.
Nevertheless, to quote Frank Sinatra — regrets, he has a few:
After all those meetings and after my initial hearing concluded, I was subjected to wrongful and sometimes vicious allegations. My time in high school and college, more than 30 years ago, has been ridiculously distorted. My wife and daughters have faced vile and violent threats.
Against that backdrop, I testified before the Judiciary Committee last Thursday to defend my family, my good name and my lifetime of public service. My hearing testimony was forceful and passionate. That is because I forcefully and passionately denied the allegation against me. At times, my testimony—both in my opening statement and in response to questions—reflected my overwhelming frustration at being wrongly accused, without corroboration, of horrible conduct completely contrary to my record and character. My statement and answers also reflected my deep distress at the unfairness of how this allegation has been handled.
I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been. I might have been too emotional at times. I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said. I hope everyone can understand that I was there as a son, husband and dad. I testified with five people foremost in my mind: my mom, my dad, my wife, and most of all my daughters.
The main tenor of his essay, however, is reassurance. “I revere the Constitution,” Kavanaugh writes, and emphasizes that he wants to be the best possible jurist he can be, and will leave the bitterness of this moment behind him:
Going forward, you can count on me to be the same kind of judge and person I have been for my entire 28-year legal career: hardworking, even-keeled, open-minded, independent and dedicated to the Constitution and the public good. As a judge, I have always treated colleagues and litigants with the utmost respect. I have been known for my courtesy on and off the bench. I have not changed. I will continue to be the same kind of judge I have been for the last 12 years. And I will continue to contribute to our country as a coach, volunteer, and teacher. Every day I will try to be the best husband, dad, and friend I can be. I will remain optimistic, on the sunrise side of the mountain. I will continue to see the day that is coming, not the day that is gone.
To my recollection, such an essay is unprecedented from a Supreme Court nominee, especially between his hearing(s) and the Senate confirmation vote. It’s a measure of how much everyone understands the role public opinion now plays in this process, and especially in this specific process. His combative opening statement and occasional contempt for the more ridiculous queries from Democrats on the Senate Judiciary panel did him no favors with political opponents, but it also might have unsettled some Republicans on whose votes his confirmation depends. His anger was certainly understandable, at least to reasonable people, but it may not have helped him with the three Republicans in whose fate his hands rest — all of whom regularly connect across the aisle.
Still, why write this now? One has to wonder whether Jeff Flake’s sudden wobbliness and Lisa Murkowski’s inscrutability over the last several hours might have something to do with Kavanaugh’s performance in the hearing more than anything in the FBI report. As Allahpundit noted in an update to that story, Flake got more sanguine about matters a couple of hours later. Perhaps some in the Senate Republican caucus prevailed on Kavanaugh to demonstrate some “regret” over his “sharp” edge to restore confidence in his temperament. At least with the three Republicans that matter, anyway.
Update: Ask and ye shall receive, Chuck Todd. He asked Benjamin Wittes earlier today whether Kavanaugh owed an explanation for his “partisan outburst”:
Wittes: “I think it was incredibly inappropriate… If I was a Senator, that alone would give me a real problem voting to confirm him.” pic.twitter.com/n67DiTc5CI
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) October 4, 2018
So here’s a question in return: Will anyone who asked this question give Kavanaugh credit for doing so?
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