Ask any woman who has been raised by a loving dad: Fathers and daughters have a very special bond. If you’re lucky and have a great dad, he’s the man who hugs you good night, wipes away your tears, cheers you on from the sidelines, and does so much in between. He’s the template for how a man should be — and how you, as a female and a human being, should be treated out in the world.
To hear a father derided or criticized is a painful thing; a daughter remembers it forever.
To hear your father accused of heinous, unspeakable things such as sexual assault — or to unthinkably hear he once ran with a crowd that committed gang rapes — is another level of pain.
It can be scarring, without the careful, constant attention of a loving family and an extended network of family and close friends.
On Monday night, two young girls, Margaret and Liza Kavanaugh, just 13 and 10 years old, respectively, heard words they no doubt really needed to hear, out loud and in public — that their dad is tops.
They heard this from the leader of the free world at Monday night’s ceremonial Supreme Court swearing-in at the White House.
Recognized warmly by President Donald Trump, the sisters were reminded that the man they’ve known their whole lives, the one present in their earliest memories, is worthy of honor.
After the president called them “very special and treasured guests,” the girls and their mother, Ashley Estes Kavanaugh, received hearty applause. The president also apologized to the family for the “terrible pain and suffering they have been forced to endure” during the confirmation process.
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“Margaret and Liza, your father is a great man,” said Trump.
“He is a man of decency, character, kindness and courage, who has devoted his life to serving his fellow citizens. And now, from the bench of our nation’s highest court, your father will defend the eternal rights and freedoms of all Americans — you know that.”
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) October 8, 2018
The girls have a lot to absorb, perhaps for years to come. The news cycle may move on, but children’s psyches can be fragile things.
Their mother’s pain was palpable as their father testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee recently, defending his past and his character. Someday the girls will see that pain on a YouTube video or a C-SPAN rerun (if they haven’t seen it already).
To be helpless as a child in the face of your mother’s pain is also a heavy weight, one not easily carried on young shoulders.
The president also noted Monday night, “Margaret and Liza’s presence tonight reminds us what this historic event — all about your father — is all about. It’s about what kind of nation we’re going to be and what kind of country our children will inherit.”
Standing in front of the president of the United States, the young Kavanaugh girls listened to their father again speak about love, friendship, and them — his “smart, strong, awesome girls.”
The girls smiled proudly as their father mentioned they’d be able to watch two cases argued before the Supreme Court on Tuesday. They heard their father tell the country about their mother — “she is a rock,” the new justice said. “And I thank God every day for Ashley and my family.”
He also said, “I take this office with gratitude, and no bitterness.”
Life lessons will keep coming for the daughters of the new justice — no doubt framed appropriately by two loving parents. They watched as their father put his hand on the Bible their mother held and, flanked by the president, pledged to “discharge and perform all” of the duties associated with service on the Supreme Court.
See Trump’s remarks in the video below.