The showdown hearing between Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and accuser Christine Blasey Ford was must-see television around Capitol Hill, but in Mandy’s, a popular breakfast spot in southeastern Louisiana, it was pure background.
Ms. Blasey Ford’s emotional testimony played on three large screen televisions but the sound was off and none of the 20 or so patrons was watching.
Even inside the Beltway, a coffee shop in Rosslyn, just across the Potomac River from Washington, were aware of the hearing but were hardly giving it their undivided attention.
“Not closely, I check up on the news like occasionally, you know I just look at it,” said Katherine Chapin, an employee at Compass Coffee on break.
Ms. Chapin said she read Ms. Blasey Ford’s opening statement and “skimmed” Judge Kavanaugh’s. While she found the spectacle interesting, an employee at Mandy’s said it’s all political.
“I think it’s a political hit job,” said Rebecca O’Brien. “If you want to know the truth, I think it’s B.S.”
Ms. Blasey Ford had Washington atwitter with a powerful morning recounting of a 36-year-old assault, parts of which she says she remembers clearly, including her attackers’ laughter.
Judge Kavanaugh, face reddening from anger and indignation, countered later in the afternoon that he’d never assaulted her or anyone else, and calling the treatment he’s suffered at the hands of Democrats “a national disgrace.”
Some employees at Mandy’s said they had not paid much attention to the hearings, but expressed some doubt about Ms. Ford’s story even though one said she was the victim of sexual abuse herself, and Ms. O’Brien said she has witnessed investigators take a cavalier approach to women who were victims.
The fact the hearing itself may not have captured everyone’s attention did not mean they were indifferent.
Yvette Sinclair, Mandy’s owner, said people have been talking about it for days but that if her regulars were in, “they’d be yelling at the television.
“I’m like the only Democrat here,” Ms. Sinclair said, referring to running a business in a Louisiana parish that votes strongly Republican.
Back in Washington, Georgetown University students gathered in the Healy Family Student Center to watch CBS coverage of the hearing. At least 30 students were glued to the screen, many sitting with books and notes.
Some professors allowed students to leave class without penalty to watch the hearing.
“I’ve been following the Kavanaugh hearings for the entirety of his nomination,” said Eli Lefowitz, class of 2021. “I think it’s everyone’s obligation and duty to do something like that especially when we have a president who constantly and blatantly disregards precedent.”
Mr. Lefowitz noted the furor over Judge Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual misconduct has played out while sex-abuse accusations continue to rock the Roman Catholic Church.
“Sexual assault has been a prevailing theme across Jesuit and Catholic communities given recent allegations that have come out of New York, Pennsylvania and other states,” he said. “So I think it hits especially close to home here on a Jesuit campus.”
Indeed, at the school’s “free speech” zone, known as Red Square, students had chalked a supportive message for Ms. Blasey Ford over the weekend.
Three women from Georgetown’s freshman class — Abigail Eastman, Paige Raborn, Christine Argentino — all said that the Kavanaugh accusations had a special impact on the student body in light of the school’s focus on sexual assault prevention. They said there was a large awareness on campus because of Georgetown’s location in the District and its connection to Judge Kavanaugh’s high school.
“It’s got our name in it,” Ms. Raborn said.