If there is a red flag here, it is not only Kavanaugh’s failure to maintain composure during a tense and extraordinary hearing. It is, rather, the risk that the process itself, which Democrats and Republicans seem to agree has been a disaster, has been so damaging to Kavanaugh’s psyche that partisan bitterness and rage will shape his temperament and his orientation to judicial work for a lifetime. It is unfortunate, if not tragic, that perhaps the most consequential unfairness of the process may be that his reaction to it has left him unfit to serve as a Justice on the Supreme Court. But, then again, Kavanaugh the political operative may have understood, far better than we did, that his abandonment of judicial performance was precisely the kind of gripping reality television that would lock in the support of his President and his base.
- Jeannie Suk Gersen is a contributing writer for newyorker.com, and a professor at Harvard Law School.