A New Chapter in Profiles in Courage



I watched the testimonies of Christine Blasey-Ford and Brett Kavanaugh gavel to gavel last Thursday. Being retired allows me to arrange my days in ways I couldn’t a few years back. It was a full week: teaching Tuesday night, preparing to preach on Sunday, and helping my wife after her recent hip replacement surgery. But I was able to commit over eight hours to watching the Senate Judicial Committee hear the statements of and question Blasey-Ford and Kavanaugh.


I don’t like watching TV for that long. Binge watching doesn’t appeal to me. We have the technology to pre-record and watch later, but I felt compelled to watch this event in real time. Normally I am on my feet every 20-30 minutes for brief walks, exercises, and snacks. But the only times I got up was when they took breaks.


I have my views on how the two witnesses did, but I am not writing about those views here. I am writing about what happened the next day, Friday. On Thursday, the partisan split was obvious. The Democrats were affirming of Blasey-Ford’s courage in coming forward as she did and asked their questions. The Republicans used a woman skilled in sexual offences work, Rachel Mitchell, to speak for them in the questioning of Blasey-Ford and for a short while Kavanaugh.


In the second part of the day, when Judge Cavanaugh was on the stand, things got contentious among the senators in partisan ways.


On Friday morning everything seemed to be moving to a vote along party lines without any senator breaking ranks. Then something unexpected happened. As Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat, finished pleading in a careful and cogent way for a no longer than one-week FBI investigation into the allegations, Senator Jeff Flake, a Republican, got up and slowly moved over to the other side of the panel and motioned for Sen. Coons to leave the room with him. Coons and Flake, while generally holding different political convictions, are friends. When they returned, Sen, Flake, in his measured way, agreed with Sen. Coons that a one-week FBI investigation would be appropriate, even as Flake said that he was inclined to support the Kavanaugh nomination. Before the day was over, President Trump directed the FBI to begin a one-week investigation into the allegations made against Judge Kavanaugh.


In a time of heightened partisan politicking, Senators Flake and Coons rose above the fray to serve the common good. Both compromised a bit to find common ground. This was courageous on the part of each. They belong in that category sometimes called “profiles in courage.” May their tribe grow.

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