Here's Something: Alcohol abuse at root of Kavanaugh chaos


After the tumult, suspense, intrigue and upheaval of the Brett Kavanaugh judicial nomination hearings, what will be the lasting legacy of this made-for-TV spectacle?

There were many lessons and revelations, but one in particular stuck out to me: Drinking alcohol to excess, even in high school, can come back and haunt you.

Kavanaugh is an amazing individual. The guy was top of his class in high school and college. He’s been a federal court judge for a decade. He’s got friends galore, a great family, and is respected in his field. But since Democrats will stop at nothing from keeping a staunch conservative off the highest court in the land, Kavanaugh’s world came crashing down forever when Democrats found his Achilles’ Heel, his reputation for drinking to excess during his high school and college days.

I remain agnostic on whether Kavanaugh actually did the things he is accused of when it comes to Christine Blasey Ford. I wasn’t there. I don’t know. I believe both of them. Kavanaugh swore to God that he didn’t do it. I believe him. Belief is different from knowledge, however, and while I believe him, I wouldn’t bet my life on it.

Ford was very convincing. If forced to choose sides however, I’d tend to agree with Kavanaugh that Ford was definitely sexually assaulted, but that she mistakenly believes Kavanaugh was the attacker. I just don’t see Kavanaugh doing these things and being so convincing in his denial.

But what I do fault him for is his history of excessive drinking and seemingly glorifying the practice. I think less of him for it. I still think he’d be a fine judge, but this revelation will stay with me. I hope it stays with everyone.

I also hope it’s a lesson for all young people. Yes, you may drink and have “fun,” but watch out because someday it may come back to you, in a very public way. Kavanaugh had a great chance to warn young people of the dangers of drinking, and he whiffed. Because he developed a reputation for drunkenness, this cloud of doubt will hang over him.

This is a wake-up call to America’s young people. Anyone who has watched the last 30 or 40 years of American pop culture, which has glorified drinking, knows high school kids think they can do or say anything. Obviously, from his own admissions, Kavanaugh thought this way as well. In his own way, alcohol may be his ruination, as it has been for so many.

My family has been stung by alcohol. My grandmother was abused by her drunken father so much that she severed ties with him and never let him have contact with her own children. Ironically, my mother received a phone call when she was 18 from a relative notifying the family that he had died. My mother responded quizzically saying the caller must have been mistaken because her grandfather had died before she was born. Such were the lengths my grandmother went to save the next generation from alcohol’s disastrous effects.

Alcohol was the cause of my mother never knowing her grandfather. Alcohol is usually at the root of many societal problems. I’ve been thinking a lot about that this week. Does alcohol change a person? Does it make them do things they normally wouldn’t do? Or does alcohol bring out what lies deep down? I’ve concluded it brings out the worst of what’s already there. I believe all people are evil deep down. Most do a great job covering it up, but every now and then it slips out, “the devil inside” as rock band INXS described it. And alcohol seems to bring it out like no other chemical.

In August, before the Kavanaugh conflagration, I would have agreed that what happens in high school should stay in high school. But now, as allegations envelop the reputation of one of America’s success stories, that’s changed. What you do as a teenager matters. America will judge you, even if you’re a mighty judge yourself, based on what you did as a young person. This is probably for the best, since I don’t want young people thinking they can get away with recklessness.

Kavanaugh, as of this writing, may survive the nomination process, but his reputation is tarnished forever. While I don’t think he’s a sex abuser, I know he made poor decisions when it came to alcohol. He enjoyed getting drunk and, more importantly for this case, gained a reputation for it. His reputation for drinking opened him up to such allegations, and his foolishness may cost him everything and may define his life.

If he had simply abstained from alcohol, he wouldn’t be in this position. That’s the lesson young people should take from this.

John Balentine, a former managing editor for Sun Media Group, lives in Windham.