There has been a lot of talk on the Democratic side about how Judge Kavanaugh's testimony last Thursday showed a lack of judicial temperament.
Indeed, it would be unusual demeanor for a judge hearing a case involving two parties towards whom he has the correct attitude of impartiality.
If the judge, however, were being offered as a human sacrifice, an impassioned tone would be what we might expect.
In a must-read piece in today's Wall Street Journal ("Brett Kavanaugh's Righteous Anger"), Senator Orrin Hatch explains what is going on with the "angry man" accusation.
As Hatch observes, the anti-Kavanaugh argument is shifting from accuser Christine Blasey Ford's testimony to Kavanaugh's defense of himself. Here is the most important part of Hatch's piece:
That Judge Kavanaugh had the temerity to defend himself vigorously is now being counted as a strike against him. Over and over we hear him described as “angry,” “belligerent” or “partisan,” followed by the claim that his conduct at the hearing shows that he lacks a judicial temperament. Even “Saturday Night Live” got in on the action.
You’ve got to be kidding me. Do the people making this argument really expect a man who until five seconds ago had an unblemished reputation to sit passively while his reputation is viciously and permanently destroyed? While he is accused of the most horrific and obscene acts imaginable? Judge Kavanaugh’s critics seem to be aghast that he is a human being who is unwilling to take slander lying down.
Had Judge Kavanaugh sat dispassionately through Thursday’s hearing and denied the allegations weakly, his critics would have taken his lack of forcefulness as proof of guilt. We all know this. We’re not stupid. Spare us the pearl-clutching.
Hatch also addresses the Democratic allegation that Kavanaugh "lied" about his teenage and college drinking:
This is known in the business as a straw man. Judge Kavanaugh never claimed he always drank in moderation. To the contrary, he admitted, “Sometimes I had too many beers.” If Judge Kavanaugh’s opponents want to claim he lied about his drinking when he was younger, perhaps they should stop lying about what he actually said.
A slightly different straw man concerns Judge Kavanaugh’s statements at the hearing that he never blacked out from drinking. The Times and others have gathered testimonials from classmates who say they heard the judge “slur his words” and saw him “staggering” from alcohol consumption, as if this were proof that he blacked out from drinking.
But of course Judge Kavanaugh never denied that he slurred his words or staggered. He said he never blacked out. Even a teetotaling Mormon knows the difference.
Interestingly, the shift from Dr. Ford's accusations to Judge Kavanaugh's daring to defend himself vigorously may be occurring because Ford's allegations appear to be collapsing (here and here, for example).