How he overcame Blasey Ford’s testimony — and allegations of sexual misconduct from other witnesses — is the subject of “Supreme Ambition,” by Ruth Marcus, a deputy editor of The Washington Post’s editorial page. Marcus’s book is impressively reported, highly insightful and a rollicking good read. It also adds another dispiriting data point — as if one more were needed — that the American Republic is seriously ailing... The most interesting part of Marcus’s narrative is her discussion of why, in the end, the evidence mattered so little. Much of the credit goes to Kavanaugh, whose own Senate testimony was as effective, in its way, as Blasey Ford’s was. Kavanaugh’s proclamations about liking beer were widely mocked — including, memorably, in a “Saturday Night Live” skit, with Matt Damon as a semi-deranged Kavanaugh. But his angry insistence that he was the true victim — which took a page from Clarence Thomas’s response to Anita Hill’s sexual harassment charges decades earlier — shifted the momentum in his direction. His railing against “left-wing opposition groups,” and his charges that the attacks on him were “revenge on behalf of the Clintons,” skillfully rallied the Republican base.
Marcus, a veteran Post reporter now deputy editorial page editor, delivers a highly readable 496-page account of Kavanaugh’s nomination, the surrounding machinations within the White House and Congress, and the decades-long campaign waged by the right to wrest control of the judiciary. Although she is unsympathetic to the GOP’s endeavor, her book is amply sourced and footnoted. It is meticulous in detail and credible in content. Most memorable is her revelation that 14 months before he would leave the bench, Justice Anthony Kennedy, Kavanaugh’s former boss, lobbied Trump to elevate the appeals court judge. As Marcus described things, Kennedy’s “message to the president was as consequential as it was straightforward, and it was a remarkable insertion by a sitting justice into the distinctly presidential act of judge picking”. Kennedy has not issued a denial.