The nation lost something Thursday.
Americans hoped for clarity on a high-stakes Senate confirmation process for a candidate to take a seat at the bench of the highest court in the land.
They didn’t get any.
The testimonies of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh in the heated Senate chamber brought the country no closer to the whole truth of a matter that happened more than 35 years ago.
Ford said she is 100 percent certain Kavanaugh is the drunken teenager who lay atop her and groped her at a friendly gathering in their high school years. Her testimony required courage and needed little assurance and support from Democratic senators on the Senate Judicial Committee to prove her credibility.
Meanwhile, Kavanaugh emphatically denied his role in any sexual misconduct with Ford or with any other woman. He rightly condemned the process that he said destroyed “my family and my name,” words that left him angry and emotional throughout the hearing.
We lament the character smears heaped upon both Ford and Kavanaugh. Both families have endured vile comments and death threats. The lack of respect given to all parties throughout the proceedings is discouraging.
Some could take the path of assuming that both Ford and Kavanaugh are lying and are part of a nefarious plot. Others could also take the path of believing that both are telling the truth, not a huge stretch given that decades have passed and alcohol was involved.
If this were a court of law, it would likely end with no judgment and possibly no justice or vindication. But as this is a job interview, perhaps the final question is not whom you believe, but whether Kavanaugh now can faithfully and credibly carry out his duty as a member of the Supreme Court of the United States for what could be the next 30 years.
If the answer is no, another nominee should be put forward in his place. Many could admirably fill the role, and the nation has already proved it can move on after it denies a Supreme Court nominee. The defeat of Robert Bork led to the 97-0 confirmation of Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose retirement, coincidentally, set up the present battle.
The clearest takeaway of the day is that the country lost. It lost the safety and security every victim should have to confidently bring forth allegations of abuse. It lost the certainty that the accused should have a fair and honest process. It lost some of its humanity and compassion that have defined and made America a beacon of hope to the world.
This downward spiral may cause Americans to lose trust for neighbors, friends and family. In an America where every friend is a potential foe and every interaction is a potential accusation, the better angels of human nature cannot emerge.
Thursday’s hearing and the days surrounding it will certainly make others who seek elected or appointed offices think twice before subjecting themselves to such scrutiny, leading to a loss of talented women and men in public service.
Regardless of what happens in the coming days in relation to Ford and the nomination of Kavanaugh, the country should mourn what it has lost and be resolved to be part of the solution.
Correction: A previous version mistakenly said Justice Anthony Kennedy's passing set up Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination. Kennedy retired, he has not died.