Brett Kavanaugh

Brett Kavanaugh's Anger Should Surprise No One

If he's innocent, he's been falsely accused and dragged through the mud. If he's guilty, he'll try to appear innocent.


Joshua Roberts/REUTERS/Newscom

Many in the media were astonished that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh seemed so furious during his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Soledad O'Brien, for instance, criticized Kavanaugh's "arrogance" for defying Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D–Minn.), answering her question with another question. On CNN, a guest whose name I did not catch said that Kavanaugh had gone "full Trump" during the hearing. I saw similar reactions all over Twitter.

But if Kavanaugh is telling the truth, and he is innocent of what Christine Blasey Ford alleges, he has every right to be thunderously angry—his name and his family have been dragged through the mud because of a vicious smear. If Kavanaugh is guilty, his goal is to appear innocent, and thus it would not be out of place for him to sound angry. Either way, Kavanaugh's anger is really no indication of guilt or innocence.

I have interviewed men who were falsely accused of sexual assault. They are not always angry—one young man, a black athlete who had been expelled for sexual assault, told me he would not wish what he went through on his worst enemy. But anger is a perfectly understandable emotion, especially when the accusation is fresh.

Anger doesn't tell us what to think about the truth of Kavanaugh's testimony, and in any case, a determination of guilt or innocence really shouldn't rest on a subjective evaluation of his temperament.