Politics

Chuck Grassley Says the Real Victim of the Kavanaugh Sexual Assault Allegations Is … Chuck Grassley

Sen. Chuck Grassley, standing, speaks into a microphone held by a reporter.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), poor guy.
Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Whether or not you believe Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh committed a violent sexual assault in his high school days, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley wants you to know there is at least one unambiguous victim in this scenario: Chuck Grassley.

In a series of letters he sent on Wednesday, the Republican senator from Iowa laid out all the ways he’s been slighted, ignored, and hassled since Christine Blasey Ford went public with her allegations against Kavanaugh. His generous offers of a public hearing for Ford have been rebuffed. His request for an original copy of Ford’s letter of allegations has gone unanswered. And Democrats neglected to mention the allegations until Ford herself came forward in the Washington Post, forcing Grassley to schedule an extremely tiresome fifth day of hearings. “I cannot overstate how disappointed I am in this decision,” he wrote in his letter to committee Democrats. The poor guy can’t catch a break!

The thinly veiled frustration in Grassley’s letters befits a man whose only worry vis-à-vis confirming a Supreme Court justice with an alleged history of sexual violence is that he won’t be able to do it quickly enough. Grassley and his fellow Republican senators see the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh as nothing more than a politically motivated attack on a future Supreme Court justice. That limited scope of understanding of sexual violence may be why Grassley voted to impeach Bill Clinton on the grounds that the presidency “is preeminently a place of moral leadership” but found himself able to defend Donald Trump after the Access Hollywood video came out because “there’s only a few saints who have been president of the United States.”

Grassley’s letters are the prose equivalent of a sulk and stamping feet. “Had Dr. Ford not made her allegations public via the Washington Post over the weekend, I still would not know her identity,” Grassley wrote to Feinstein. “It has caused me to have to reopen the hearings for the fifth day of testimony, when we easily could have—and should have—raised these issues before or during the first four days of the hearing.” It is remarkable to watch a man who has the power to control Senate proceedings claim procedural victimhood in the adjudication of a sexual assault allegation. Of the leak that made Ford’s then-anonymous allegations public, Grassley wrote to Senate Democrats, “This is but the latest—and most serious—of your side’s abuse of this confirmation process.” These Democrats aren’t just subjecting Grassley to inconvenience and delays. They’re perpetrating abuse.

Grassley’s stance aligns with the worldview, widely held among conservatives, that men are the true victims of the #MeToo movement. They are held to ever-changing, increasingly stringent standards of behavior, forced to answer for acts they allegedly committed decades ago, and denied positions of power and financial gain. Women, meanwhile, must only endure a little horseplay, which their allies exaggerate and draw out to make Chuck Grassley’s life difficult. Truly, it’s just not fair.