The Slatest

Kavanaugh’s Explanations for His Racy Yearbook References Do Not Pass the Smell Test

Brett Kavanaugh, lips pursed, at a hearing room table
Brett Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook page. Twitter

It probably was neither Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s or Brett Kavanaugh’s proudest moment when the Rhode Island Democrat asked the Supreme Court nominee to explain what a “devil’s triangle” was, referring to a note in Kavanaugh’s now-infamous Georgetown Prep yearbook. An exasperated Kavanaugh claimed it was a drinking game with “three glasses in a triangle,” similar to Quarters. Right.

This was just one example where Kavanaugh offered the most innocent possible explanation for his yearbook entries that a reasonable person would read as references to sex or excessive drinking. It’s not a stretch to say most of Kavanaugh’s explanations don’t pass the smell test.

Take devil’s triangle. While it’s remotely possible that Kavanaugh and his friends used an idiosyncratic definition, the euphemism typically refers to a threesome with two men and one woman. This is directly pertinent to Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation for obvious reasons.

And this type of sexual braggadocio—even if empty (Kavanaugh said he was a virgin in high school)—would be in keeping with another point Whitehouse questioned Kavanaugh about: “Renate Alumnius.” Kavanaugh indignantly explained that Renate, a girl from a nearby school named Renate Schroeder, was “a great friend of ours” and that’s why she was referenced in several of his friends’ yearbooks and that’s why he had described himself as a “Renate Alumnius.”

Are you kidding me? There are 14 references to the woman, now named Renate Dolphin, in the Georgetown Prep yearbook from 1983, according to the New York Times. This included one member of the football team describing himself as “chairman of the Bored of the Renate Club” and a photo of eight football players, including Kavanaugh and Mark Judge, subtitled “Renate Alumni”; another person who said on his page that he was a “Renate Alumnus,” also included the line: “You need a date / and it’s getting late / so don’t hesitate / to call Renate.”

And then there’s boof. The reference in the yearbook is “Judge—Have You Boofed Yet?” That’s his friend Mark Judge, the alleged witness to the assault on Ford and, by his own admission, a man with a severe drinking problem at the time. Yet Kavanaugh said in the midst of testimony, during which he mentioned his past and present fondness for beer dozens of times, that he was referring to “flatulence.” Oh, please.

In the yearbook, “Boofed” came right before “Beach Week Ralph Club—Biggest Contributor,” a superlative Kavanaugh said he earned not necessarily because of heavy drinking but because “I’m known to have a weak stomach … whether it’s with beer or with spicy food or anything.” When Whitehouse pursued the “Ralph Club” question further, Kavanaugh cut off any discussion of his possible excessive drinking with a recitation of his résumé. When Whitehouse tried to bring him around back to alcohol consumption—”Did it relate to alcohol? You haven’t answered that.”—Kavanaugh said, “I like beer. I like beer. I don’t know if you do” and “Do you like beer, Senator, or not?” Do you?!

Whitehouse narrowed in on other references in his yearbook that appeared to imply drinking to the point of blacking out: “Georgetown vs. Louisville—Who Won That Game Anyway?” and “Orioles vs. Red Sox—Who Won, Anyway?”

“Should we draw any conclusion that a loss of recollection associated with alcohol was involved in you not knowing who won the games that you attended?” Whitehouse asked. Kavanaugh clarified that he had been “watching [the games] on TV” at a party and that “we in essence were having a party and didn’t pay attention to the game even though the game was the excuse we had for getting together.”

C’mon! While it’s certainly plausible to watch a game on TV and not remember the score, Kavanaugh never explained why, in a yearbook page strewn with apparent references to heavy drinking, he also included a random college basketball game and MLB game he and his friends saw on TV.

Look, it feels silly to parse yearbook notations that are, literally, juvenalia. But it matters: One of the only ways to square Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony with Kavanaugh’s adamant denials is to presume that he attacked her while he was so drunk he later blacked out and had no memory of doing so. The crass sexism in these references is relevant too, as Kavanaugh has referred numerous times to his respect for women and friendship with women in high school, college, and beyond as a reason to not believe Ford’s account.

A straight-A student with a close knit group of friends who enjoyed some beers on a summer weekend before going off to Yale sounds like someone who could be a Supreme Court justice. A binge-drinking football player who, along with his friends, boasted of their supposed sexual exploits at the expense of women sounds like something else entirely.