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What can I do to help you feel better?

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The title of this post is what they tell the kids at my child’s preschool to say instead of “I’m sorry.” It’s good advice for both toddlers and adults.

From a review of Christine Blasey Ford’s new memoir:

It was, she writes, “the height of an early ’80s John Hughes era that glamorized a hypersexualized, debauched high school party scene as depicted in movies like ‘The Breakfast Club’ and ‘Sixteen Candles,’” and it was in such a boys-will-be-boys milieu that she tells of being attacked, with no apparent avenue for recourse.

The assailant’s suffocating hand over her mouth, attempting to mute her screams, is one terrible detail that lingers; along with the bathing suit under her clothes that impeded their forcible removal. “Perhaps it’s kind of like my armor,” she writes of continuing to layer like this in her adult summers.

Blasey Ford never wavers from her certainty that it was the young Kavanaugh looming over her in that room, but she doesn’t seem hellbent on bringing him down. As she mulled going public, “If he’d come to me, really leveled with me, and said, ‘I don’t remember this happening, but it might have, and I’m so sorry,’ it might have been a significant, therapeutic moment for survivors in general,” she writes. “I might have wobbled a bit. I might have thought, ‘You know, he was a jackass in high school, but now he’s not.’”

If Brett Kavanaugh had any moral or intellectual integrity, he would acknowledge the following to himself:

(1) He went to a lot of parties in high school.

(2) He got drunk at a lot of these parties.

(3) He tried to have sexual contact with girls at a lot of these parties.

Given these banal biographical details, a fourth critical truth follows:

(4) It’s perfectly possible that Kavanaugh did to Ford more or less exactly what Ford says she remembers Kavanaugh doing, and Kavanaugh has no memory at all of the incident.

One thing I’ve come to appreciate with age is that we eventually forget almost everything we’ve ever done or said or experienced. The idea that we remember our pasts at all, let alone accurately, is wildly exaggerated by our own treacherous memories. We remember bits and fragments of our past, while the vast majority of it disappears into a void of permanent oblivion.

There’s every reason to believe that what happened at that party 42 years ago is something that Kavanaugh can hardly remember and Ford can hardly forget.

What Ford wants from Kavanaugh, which is the mildest and most tentative of apologies for what he might have done, is something that any decent person in those circumstances would offer.

But he’s not, so he won’t.

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