On Sept. 27, the Senate confirmation hearings of Judge Kavanaugh, a candidate for the U.S. Supreme Court, disrupted my tranquility.

I’m upset by what I witnessed in a daylong coverage of the hearings. Most unfortunately it was not “fake news.” I’m angered by the politicizing of a tragedy and exploitation of two people caught in their irresolvable opposite positions. I hold both political factions equally culpable.

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford came forward to testify that 36 years ago, when she was in high school, she was sexually assaulted by young Kavanaugh.

I am outraged by the gravity of the alleged crime against Dr. Ford. But I am equally appalled at the way she has been used and exploited in a politically motivated character assassination. She was used as “evidence” implying that Kavanaugh’s behavior was abhorrent, and that his judgment and character are beyond redemption.

In coming forward to testify, Dr. Ford risked being defamed. The Senate, acting with blatant, sexist tokenism, assigned a female “prosecutor” to elicit Dr. Ford’s testimony. The assumption seemed to be that a woman’s presence would ease Dr. Ford’s discomfort with the “interrogation.” Dr. Ford is to be commended for her courage to face the ordeal.

Judge Kavanaugh did not have to guard himself against a prosecutor’s scrutiny. Before hearing the testimony, senators told Judge Kavanaugh that he was not in a court of law. The proceedings were a “job interview.”

That did not relieve the Judge’s anguish. His emotional, heartfelt testimony touched me. I was moved by his tearful response to the accusation. It’s the inference of guilt that upsets my sense of fairness.

Judge Kavanaugh’s predicament evokes a new meaning for me in Iago’s remark, “He that filches my good name takes what will not enrich him, leaving me poor indeed.” (William Shakespeare)

Poor indeed! Nothing can remove the stigma of the alleged guilt of a youthful transgression. The offense may have been committed under influence of a bad mix of alcohol and testosterone. Now it overshadows a man’s life. But Judge Kavanaugh is no longer the same person he was 36 years ago. He matured, outgrew his youthful recklessness, and became a gifted judge. Shouldn’t a “job interview” focus on his achievements, and his capacity to interpret the Constitution of the United States?

As I reflected on the day’s spectacle, I felt I had missed something. It seemed the environment of the impassioned clash of ideals was permeated by some toxic external element. Visions of senators’ anger-contorted faces flashed before my eyes. They were portraits of vitriolic hate.

Trump’s defamatory election campaigning of 2016 was the lingering toxicity in the room. He sullied his opponent’s “good name.” The brand “Crooked Hillary” stuck. Trump sowed the seeds of anger and resentment. Now, unfortunately, the opposition has responded in kind.

Senators Flake and Coons, two men on opposite sides of the political abyss, negotiated an interlude in hostilities. They realized that hate, slander, defamation and political divisiveness cannot make America great.

Fred Natkevi is a longtime resident of Oak Park.

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