Payback may be a bitch, but she rarely moves so swiftly. As we just mentioned in Fame Brief, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is fielding more allegations about his sexual preferences today, after former girlfriend Lillian McEwen made some “explosive” statements to the Washington Post about her time with the Supreme Court justice.
I put “explosive” in scare quotes, because really all we’re learning from McEwen is that Justice Thomas likes (or liked, she dated him a long time ago) boobs and porn. Is that really such a big deal? Hey, quick question: Would you rather be reading this article about Clarence Thomas and Lillian McEwen right now, or doing something that involved boobs and porn? I know what my answer is. But like most of you, apparently watching boobs and porn is “FROWNED UPON in this ESTABLISHMENT.”
But does enjoying (sorry, allegedly enjoying) the mystifying undulations of the opposite sex make Clarence Thomas unfit to sit on the high court?
Umm… NO. He’s a man, heterosexual as far as we can tell. Instead of liking boobs and porn, what do you want him to like? Farm animals? Masturbating to slash fiction of Dred Scott and Roger Taney? While objectively horrifying to contemplate, I expect my Supreme Court justices to like having sex. In fact, it’s the ones who don’t like having sex whom I’m afraid of. Liking sex (even if it’s a little freaky) does not make Thomas unfit to sit on the Court. Being a functional mute might make him unfit. Believing that the intentions of slaveholders who died 200 years ago can be clearly understood and applied in the modern context might make him unfit. Sexually harassing women might make him unfit (and McEwen claims that Thomas said “inappropriate things” while he was with her). But liking boobs? Sorry, we’re going to have to move on.
So why are we even talking about this? Well, I can’t speak for others, but I always like it when God reaches down from on high and bites idiots in the ass. Ginni Thomas, welcome to The Suck, I hope you enjoy yourself.
Seriously, I’m always amazed that people like Ginni Thomas are so convinced that God is on their side. How do they know? What gives them a monopoly on speaking for Him? Here’s what I see: I see a person who made an unbelievably inappropriate phone call; I see a person who pompously asked Anita Hill to “pray” on what to do. And now I see a whole new round of allegations against her husband. It’s not like the phone call prompted these new allegations (McEwen has a book coming out — of course she does). But the Lord doth work in some mysterious freaking ways.
But, like a good liberal, I never have to explain the world solely through God or divine irony. I see Ginni Thomas’s phone call as an attempt to reopen the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill debate at a time and in a culture where the kind of fringe conservatives Ginny Thomas represents are more vocal and have a bigger platform. The kind of Republicans defending Clarence Thomas 20 years ago were your father’s Republicans (like George H.W. Bush). Measured, considered, practical. Now we’ve got people like Glenn Beck. And my theory is that Ginni Thomas knew that people — her Tea Party people — would go there and attack a woman who has long since stopped trying to be in the public spotlight.
But, and this is delicious, what most Tea Party people seem to fail to understand is that they are in the unbelievable minority in this country. They mistake volume for strength. And now Ginni Thomas isn’t just going to get to berate Anita Hill all over again — now they’re going to have to deal with this whole other woman. A woman who wants publicity. And so we’re basically about to rehash the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings — only this time it’ll be in an era of 24 hour cable news networks and the internet.
Does anybody really think that Thomas would have been confirmed in today’s environment? Of course he wouldn’t: just like FDR couldn’t have been President from a wheelchair, and JFK couldn’t have gotten away with banging chicks two at a time, Justice Thomas wouldn’t have survived a prolonged confirmation battle full of salacious details of alleged sexual misconduct. It wouldn’t have even come up for a vote. Bush 41 would have pulled him, just like his son did with Harriet Miers.
This time around, Thomas can’t be forced from his job, but we’re going to have the argument, all over again. And it’s going to be ugly. And by the end of next week, the media will have moved onto something else (how lucky for the Thomas crowd that this dropped on a Friday before a big football and baseball weekend, during a season when there is actual news about people we can elect to be dissected). But for now, this is the argument we’re having.
And to my mind, this was the argument Ginni Thomas wanted to have. Not in this way, of course. But she literally asked for it. Now she’s going to get it. Have fun.
P.S. Oh, and in the words of Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman: “Lilian McEwen, F*** you too!” Honestly, where the hell was this woman twenty years ago when Anita Hill was getting raked over the coals and her allegedly inappropriate “thing” saying ex-boyfriend was in a crucial job interview in front of the whoe country? Oh, she was “on good terms” with Thomas then, she tells the WaPo. Great, being buddies with a Supreme Court justice first, standing up for your gender, second. Until somebody gives you a book deal, of course.
I actually hope she’s lying. Because if she’s telling the truth and she said nothing as the country was thinking of entrusting this man with the power to have a voice on the progression of woman’s rights over the course of a generation, she’s an abject disgrace. Unbelievable!
Lillian McEwen breaks her 19-year silence about Justice Clarence Thomas [Washington Post]
Former Girlfriend of Clarence Thomas Speaks Out After 19 Years [WSJ Law Blog]