Shame on Sen. Charles Grassley.
Having Christine Blasey Ford testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee evidently was no more than a charade to him, a bone tossed at someone who, in Grassley's words, "wanted to be heard and we gave her that opportunity."
Just so we're clear, Ford didn't need to testify about Brett Kavanaugh's alleged attempted rape of her as a teenager. It wasn't some kind of therapy. She says she has lived with the trauma her entire life. She spoke of it in the sincere belief that the committee would want to know her story when considering Kavanaugh's suitability to be on the Supreme Court.
She's probably wondering why she ever let herself think so.
Clearly, Grassley never intended to let anything she disclosed influence his views on Kavanaugh's suitability. He was hell bent on moving forward with the confirmation, as he did by holding a committee vote, which passed on partisan lines Friday, to get Kavanaugh's name before the full Senate.
Because the allegations, including those of two other women who came forward later, were never verified, he can say they don't matter. But Grassley refused to ask for law enforcement to investigate them or subpoena witnesses who might corroborate Ford's 35-plus-years-old account. He settled for Kavanaugh's denials, touting his good qualities as a husband and the hundreds of women who say they support him.
Which means exactly nothing to those who say he abused them. Grassley either doesn't get it or just doesn't care. "I honestly don't know what to do with the rage I am filled with," a woman e-mailed me as Grassley moved toward a vote Friday.
Thankfully there is one Republican member of the Judiciary committee who had the courage and ethical integrity to seek a hold on a Senate vote until the FBI could probe the allegations: Arizona Republican Jeff Flake. It's just too bad it wasn't Grassley. He had his back up from the start of the second round of hearings, as he lashed out at Democrats for using sexual abuses as a ploy to obstruct Kavanaugh's confirmation. The committee Republicans ceded their role as questioners of Ford to Arizona sex-crimes prosecutor, Rachel Mitchell, who approached her task as a prosecutor would.
But Ford was composed, credible and courteous, saying she was 100 percent certain Kavanaugh attempted to rape her at a party in 1982 when both were teens. Even a Fox news commentator called her "an incredibly credible witness."
Kavanaugh was the opposite, both of Ford and of the person he had until then shown himself to be. He didn't just angrily deny the sex-abuse claims. He was confrontational, calling committee Democrats a "national embarrassment" and blaming "a frenzy on the left to come up with something, anything against me." He declared the confirmation process "a national disgrace."
Gone was the empathetic, civic-minded nominee Trump first introduced. In his place was a belligerent, partisan player who interrupted questioners, often responded with the same flat denials and even turned their questions back on them.
"Do you like beer, Senator? What do you like to drink?" he shot back at Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat who had tried several ways to ask Kavanaugh if a reference in his yearbook to throwing up was about drinking too much. When Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy asked something similar, Kavanaugh answered about his tutoring and church activities. As Leahy tried to lead him back to the question, Kavanaugh chided, "No, no, no, no! I'm going to talk about my high school."
"Does this reflect who you are?" Leahy responded. "You don't have to filibuster."
What could at first have been viewed as the righteous indignation of someone unfairly accused came across, instead, as extreme partisanship and a sense of blanket entitlement to the job of Supreme Court justice. Even if you felt sorry for Kavanaugh, he didn't project the temperament you would want on the nation's highest court. He wept and railed, seemingly without control. In fact, he seemed to fit the description given by some who knew him in high school and college, of someone combative and untethered, when drunk.
Kavanaugh repeatedly insisted FBI investigations prove noting, that he'd been vetted many times and that Ford had no credible alibis.
For the record, Ford passed a lie detector test. Kavanaugh didn't take one.
Most committee Republicans had his back, though, several of them lashing out at Democratic obstruction and unverified claims, also without seeking further investigation.
Yes, this is one person's word against another's. That's why we need to see all the evidence. And sure, there was grandstanding from both sides. But an allegation that serious about a candidate for a job that consequential, has to be taken seriously.
That's one of a few things we should agree on even in this highly partisan environment. No one on either side should face harassment and threats, as Ford and Kavanaugh say they have. But sexual assault claims matter. Survivors are watching. The full Senate must address them.
What a letdown that Grassley wouldn't.
Rekha Basu is a columnist for the Des Moines Register. Readers may send her email at email@example.com.