Editorial roundup


Oct. 3, The Baltimore Sun on President Donald Trump’s remarks on a psychology professor who has accused his Supreme Court nominee of sexually assaulting her at a party:

Dear Sens. Jeff Flake, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski,

There was a time — fleeting as it was — when it seemed President Donald Trump would give the proper respect and deference due to Christine Blasey Ford, the 51-year-old psychology professor who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party when she was 15. Last week after her testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mr. Trump called her “very compelling” and a “very credible witness.”…

Mr. Trump’s civility did not last, of course. He eventually got around to speculating about how she, or her parents, would surely have reported the incident to police decades ago had it really happened — ignoring the reality of such trauma and how rarely it comes to light. But the president hit rock bottom Tuesday when, speaking before a political rally in Mississippi, he savagely mocked Ms. Ford. “‘I don’t know. I don’t know.’ ‘Upstairs? Downstairs? Where was it?’ ‘I don’t know,’” Mr. Trump said in his shameful attempt to imitate her testimony. “‘But I had one beer. That’s the only thing I remember.”’…

What followed this public sadism? Cheering. Laughter. Applause. One of Ms. Ford’s attorneys, Michael R. Bromwich, a former Justice Department inspector general, called the performance a “vicious, vile and soulless attack.”…

We write to you, senators, because you know — as all Americans must know — that you hold the future of the Kavanaugh nomination in your hands. It’s clear most senators have already made their choices in this matter following the customary lines of Washington’s tribal politics. Senator Flake, in particular, demonstrated that while he may be inclined toward consenting on the nominee, he can recognize that something seriously wrong is happening right now on Capitol Hill. His choice to force a further FBI inquiry into Mr. Kavanaugh’s background was at least a step toward making things right. But it’s proving to be an inadequate one.

One week was always a tough deadline to expect the FBI to do a meaningful investigation but what’s come out so far — of its limited scope and rigor (interviewing as few as four individuals, according to some accounts) — suggest the effort is more a fig leaf than an attempt to gain insight. Meanwhile, there’s the matter of Mr. Kavanaugh’s own testimony before the committee, his sharply partisan tone that seemed inappropriate to a first-year District Court judge let alone a Supreme Court justice. Senator Flake recently admitted he was troubled by the “tone” of Mr. Kavanaugh’s remarks. How often does a nominee talk about “revenge for the Clintons” or other perceived partisan slights as Mr. Kavanaugh did last week? And then there’s the matter of how often the nominee evaded questions about, or outright misrepresented, his heavy drinking to the Senate committee and the prospect that his memory of events in 1982 is hazy at best.

Don’t let this train leave the station, senators, not if you care about decency, about the integrity of the court, about what this episode is telling victims of sexual abuse. …

Online: http://www.baltimoresun.com/