A video segment from today’s opening of the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court has gotten a whole lot of attention.
For good reason.
As Kavanaugh was leaving the hearing room, Fred Guttenberg — whose daughter was among those slain by the gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. — extended his hand, apparently to shake Judge Kavanaugh’s hand.
The judge turned away. He didn’t take Guttenberg’s hand.
I do not know what Guttenberg might have said to Kavanaugh to prompt such a chilly non-response to what looked like a gesture of common courtesy. Maybe the grieving father said Kavanaugh’s wife wore combat boots, or some such childish statement.
I doubt it.
Surely the dad didn’t accuse Kavanaugh of complicity in the mass shooting. Surely he didn’t tell him he is responsible for the tragedy that erupted on Valentine’s Day.
So, why did the judge turn his back? Doesn’t a father in mourning deserve a handshake and an expression of good wishes?
These kinds of images have a way of imprinting themselves into observers’ collective memory. Just as Midland, Texas, oil mogul Claytie Williams who snubbed a handshake from Gov. Ann Richards during the candidates’ campaign for Texas governor in 1990. Williams paid for that rudeness by losing the election.