I Ask Myself
Die Kontroverse im Herbst über die Nominierung des Kandidaten für den Obersten Gerichtshof hat in vielen Amerikanern unangenehme Erinnerungen geweckt.
Amy Argetsinger on controversy and the Supreme Court
About three years ago, the boys my age started running for president. Not boys I know, of course. These were grown men with established political careers who, when they ran for president, were written about in my newspaper — long biographical stories that featured photos from their teenage years. Their round faces and lush, center-part haircuts in these old photos made these strangers startlingly familiar. They wore the same striped rugby shirts that boys my age used to wear; they were photographed in basements with the same kind of paneling that friends of mine had when I was growing up. It proved that they are my age, and that we are now old enough to be president.
It’s a phase we all go through as we age. I remember when Bill Clinton was elected in 1992. Suddenly, we had a president who was five years younger than my parents. I sensed what a shock this was for them — and how much more so for the politicians half a generation or so older, realizing that their moment had passed.
We still haven’t elected a president my age. But now, it’s the nominees for the Supreme Court, the loftiest judicial bench in the nation. The most recent one was Brett Kavanaugh, three years older than me, who, as it happens, was very closely scrutinized because of his teenage years.
In October, Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court. Before that happened, a woman who is two years older than me accused him of sexually assaulting her at a party — throwing his body on top of hers and attempting to take off her clothes — when he was 17 and she was 15.
Her story has a ring of truth to it. Kavanaugh, though, denies that this happened. US senators questioned him about his high school days, his drinking habits at the time, his behavior toward other young women.
For many of my friends, it awakened memories of the boys our age. Of the things that happened to them, the things they saw these boys do or heard them say. Behavior that was laughed off then, or ignored, or which some have been grappling with ever since. And when they listened to Kavanaugh’s denials — his claims that he was not a heavy drinker, that he never disrespected women — they were angry.
Some of my friends have even talked recently to those boys, who are now middle-aged men. Some of these men are actually offering apologies, for petty cruelties or gross violations. We are middle-aged now, and trying to make sense of our teenage years. We owe a lot of apologies, and many of us should receive some. It’s painful, but it’s better than denial.
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