Friday, September 21, 2018


This happened yesterday:
Ed Whelan, a former law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia and the president of a think tank called the Ethics and Public Policy Center ... actually identif[ied] a classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Georgetown Prep, and suggest[ed] that he might have attempted to rape Ford, not the future judge.

The tweet storm showed the results of Whelan’s internet sleuthing. The supposed evidence ... includes:

• A Google map of where Ford, Kavanaugh, and other alleged witnesses lived when they were in high school.
• Real estate photos of the home where Whelan thinks the incident might have occurred, based on Ford saying the house was “not far from” the Columbia Country Club.
• A floor plan that shows that the upstairs bathroom is across from a bedroom in this house, just like Ford described.
• And finally, the big reveal: 35 years ago, this was the home of a Georgetown Prep student who looks kind of like Kavanaugh and was also friends with Mark Judge (who was allegedly present during the assault). Yearbook photos and a current photo of the classmate are provided for comparison to Kavanaugh.
The Twitter thread is still up as I'm typing this; the alleged Kavanaugh doppelganger, a middle school teacher named Chris Garrett, hasn't announced that he's suing for defamation, but it's early yet.

(UPDATE: The thread has been deleted and Whelan has apologized.)

I don't know how this was supposed to work, but I assume Whelan expected it to pass smoothly through what James Carville used to call the "puke funnel" -- it was presumably meant to travel from his Twitter feed effortlessly into the mainstream conversation, after passing through increasingly "respectable" right-wing media outlets. The Drudge Report and Power Line are taking Whelan seriously, as is Ross Douthat -- but Senator Orrin Hatch's communications director, who'd retweeted Whelan's earlier tease of the theory, distanced himself from Whelan yesterday:

The [Washington] Post reported that top Republicans tried to distance themselves from Whelan after his tweet storm flopped:
Republicans on Capitol Hill and White House officials immediately sought to distance themselves from Whelan’s claims and said they were not aware of his plans to identify the former classmate, now a middle school teacher, who could not be reached for comment and did not answer the door at his house Thursday night.
Garrett Ventry, communications adviser for the Senate Judiciary Committee, tweeted that they had no involvement...
And the right-wing press was lukewarm:
Even right-wing outlets from Hot Air to the Washington Examiner dismissed the theory and said Whelan was wrong to identify the classmate. “It is inconceivable that this Whelan defense will help Kavanaugh in any way. In fact, it’s so nasty and desperate-seeming that it taints Kavanaugh, despite that fact that he might have had nothing to do with it,” wrote The American Conservative’s Rod Dreher.
And if my favorite barometer for what the right-wing base is thinking -- Free Republic -- is any indication, the theory isn't catching on with hardcore right-wingers because ... it doesn't make Christine Blasey Ford seem evil enough. Some FR comments:
I doubt the “mistaken identity” dodge they’re digging out now.

Imo, the entire thing was a lie, start to finish.


Ford’s a liar, stop lending credence to her story by pretending it happened.


Nope, she's just a liar.


Or, far more likely, his accuser is a stone liar looking to make a splash.
So the puke funnel isn't working as well as it used to. Now, let's hope that defamation suit happens.

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