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Hillary Clinton Says Kavanaugh Self-Defense Is a 'Denial of the Legitimacy of Women's Stories'

On Tuesday at The Atlantic fest, Hillary Clinton laughed at President Trump's second Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh. She attacked him as "unconvincing" and lacking "judicial temperament," but praised Christine Blasey Ford — the woman who accused him of sexual assault — as "credible," despite her story's many holes and inconsistencies. She also praised the two women who angrily accosted Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) last Friday.

Why did she so vigorously defend the accusers and dismiss the accused? It seemed to boil down to one statement — made about then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas — that a man defending himself against sexual assault accusations "very much felt like — and in fact it probably was — the denial of the legitimacy of women’s stories" (emphasis added).

If any innocent man's defense against allegations of sexual assault constitutes "the denial of the legitimacy of women's stories," then no man ever can defend himself against a false accusation.

Clinton framed her views on the issue in terms of women triumphing over a long tradition of patriarchy. She claimed the modern movement against sexual assault is "finally righting the balance, because there’s been a tremendous imbalance on women’s lives, women’s narratives. They’ve been historically dismissed, condescended to."

The former presidential candidate argued that women in politics "find themselves picked apart, second-guessed, held to a double standard. We want to have as much right to our agency, to our autonomy, as we should be able to have, where women’s lives are valued as much as men’s lives, their stories are as important as men’s stories, they are written into history, not out of history. So that’s what I see happening."

To some degree, Clinton is correct. Historically, women were regarded differently than men, they did not have the right to vote, and their stories made it into the history books less often. In modern America, women still struggle with advancement at work, although now they are more likely to graduate college than men!

The #MeToo movement has encouraged victims of sexual assault to come forward, and it has exposed many predators, most notably Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Larry Nassar. Each of those cases involved a long string of victims, evidence, and corroborating eyewitness accounts, however.

The accusations against Brett Kavanaugh, meanwhile, lack evidence and corroborating eyewitness accounts. Sexual assault is a serious crime, and even when it is not prosecuted as a crime — due to allegations beyond the statute of limitations, as in the case of Brett Kavanaugh — the stain of sex crime can ruin someone's reputation for life.

Kavanaugh's accusers deserve to be listened to and treated with respect, but that means weighing their stories, not accepting them as gospel truth. Prosecutor Rachel Mitchell (who happens to be a woman) thoroughly eviscerated Ford's claims in a memo revealing inherent contradictions. If Clinton rejects Mitchell's memo, is she denying "legitimacy" to this woman's story?