IS THERE ANY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DONALD TRUMP AND CLARENCE THOMAS???
(Intelligence Quotients May Vary; Predispositions Toward Groping and Lying? The Very Same).
It still rings in my ears. All of it. And I’m glad it does.
“America is the land of opportunity…[it’s] the greatest country in the world.”
“Work hard and you shall be rewarded…you will get ahead.”
“Education is your passport, your ticket to bigger and better things.”
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
“Treat everyone with respect; we’re all human beings.”
“What goes around, comes around.”
“Never give up. Try your best…all of the time.”
Back in the day, my childhood and even my youth were dotted with these colloquial philosophies, cliched prophecies and then-standard rules of thumb. They — among others — were rat-a-tat-tatted into me as if they were the Ten Commandments. Nodding in assent (before, during or after an exaggerated eye-roll or two) may have become the norm but these and other guiding principles did not fall on deaf ears. They were heard, processed, understood and over time put into practice. And they were never forgotten by me, nor will they be, I’m afraid.
(God bless my parents, grandparents, extended family, teachers, coaches and assorted mentoring figures who ensured that my upbringing was a good one, a solid one. I was lucky).
Of the seven stock phrases above, implicit in one particularly, is the notion of payback for a perceived slight or an act of impropriety. Nothing is perfect; in fact, the world and the people in it are imperfect. There are and will be ups and downs, as there have always been.
But solace exists in knowing that the story — your story — is still being told. It is still being written. Until it’s not. After all, ‘it ain’t over till it’s over.’ And of course as referenced, “what goes around, comes around.” Recognition of this axiom offers a glimmer of hope where there may have been none to see. And without hope, well…
It is incredibly easy to be a decent person if the groundwork has been properly laid. But therein lies the crux of the matter. Sometimes — and increasingly it seems — it has not. Gray area grows amoeba-like, free-living and parasitic, and highly questionable decisions are made every day. People are killed, tortured, incarcerated justly or unjustly, humiliated, degraded and scorned.
Race and gender bias remain two hot-button issues as they should be but social status, wherewithal (as in money), levels of intelligence, physical appearance and a host of other criteria and indices are in play 24/7, 365. It’s been so for a very long time. People are different and diverse; this should be celebrated not discredited, devalued, dishonored or debased.
Acceptance begets learning and learning is something we should do every day, not unlike breathing, eating and drinking. Narrow-mindedness and intolerance sound the death knell. But we can only control so much. The optimal starting point is to control oneself. The greatest successes come from that.
Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas knows that now, courtesy of learning the hard way on many occasions. Appointed by George H. W. Bush on July 1, 1991 to succeed Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American to serve on the court, he assumed office on October 18th of that year.
It wasn’t easy. Thomas’ confirmation hearings were tantamount to a three-ring circus. They were bitter, contentious and intensely argued. Broadcast live without commercial interruption for three days by PBS and Court TV, the hearings focused on an accusation that Thomas had sexually harassed attorney Anita Hill, a subordinate at the Department of Education and later at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) — in a tasty bit of irony, the federal sexual-harassment watchdog — where Thomas served as Chairman.
The U.S. Senate’s suspenseful vote ultimately confirmed Thomas by the razor-thin margin of 52–48. Less than a week after the confirmation vote, Thomas was sworn in for his lifetime appointment on the bench. He was 43 years old. And he quipped arrogantly that he would serve another 43 years at the least. He is now more than halfway there.
Clarence Thomas lied to get onto the Supreme Court. Repeatedly, guiltlessly and unimpeachably. What he did is being revisited and more closely examined today and may, in fact represent an impeachable offense.
The Hill-Thomas blazing inferno of twenty-eight years ago was really the first moment in American history when the issue of sexual harassment was brought to the forefront for the masses in such a public and open forum. And the well-documented accounts of many — Moira Smith; Marcia Coyle; Angela Wright; Nancy Montwieler; and Lillian McEwen to name a handful — provoked serious interest in the notion that Thomas had perjured himself over and over again during the hearing, grounds for impeachment through a congressional vote. (Perhaps far-fetched, but not without precedent as the cases of Samuel Chase in 1804, Abe Fortas in 1969 and William O. Douglas in 1970 would suggest).
Politically dead in the water when the Republicans took control of Congress after the 1994 midterms, the Thomas-impeachment discussion was rekindled unwittingly(?) during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Buried in the thousands of emails opened during the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton was one golden nugget in the form of a document from her State Department files. Labeled, “Memo on Impeaching Clarence Thomas” and written by a close adviser, David Brock in 2010, seven pages of evidence supports the position that Thomas lied to the Judiciary Committee when he emphatically denied under oath that he had discussed pornographic films or made sexual comments in the office to Hill or any other women who had worked for him.
“What I have said to you is categorical that any allegations that I engaged in any conduct involving sexual activity, pornographic movies, attempted to date her, any allegations, I deny. It is not true.” — Clarence Thomas
Senator Hatch: Did you ever say in words or substance something like there is a pubic hair in my Coke?
Judge Thomas: No Senator. …
Senator Hatch: Did you ever brag to Professor Hill about your sexual prowess?
Judge Thomas: No, Senator.
Senator Hatch: Did you ever use the term “Long Dong Silver” in conversation with Professor Hill?
Judge Thomas: No, Senator.
In a well-planned strategic demonstration of braggadocio, Thomas pressed on.
“If I used that kind of grotesque language with one person, it would seem to me that there would be traces of it throughout the employees who worked closely with me, or bits and pieces of it, or various levels of it…”
There were indeed, but the Committee didn’t bite. Thomas’ bluff wasn’t called. Those who knew first-hand about his habitual, erotically-laced workplace banter were never contacted by the Senate Judiciary Committee or called as witnesses. They were never heard from on the record. All of it was swept under the rug. And allegations of Thomas’ inappropriate behavior — talking about porn in the office and commenting on the bodies of women with whom he worked — were much more sweeping than what was apparent during the sensational Senate hearings…right down to the rather bizarre Coke can details.
Three other women at the EEOC who had experiences with Thomas similar to those of Anita Hill were identified by investigative reporters, writers and others researching the case, as were four more who were well aware of his affinity for porn. All wanted to testify; none were subpoenaed. None were heard from publicly. It became clear evidentially that Thomas had perjured himself during the hearing.
[Sidebar : The heart of Hill’s sexual harassment allegations according to her testimony spotlighted Thomas’ bent toward unwelcome sex talk at work. He would often summon Hill to his office and persist in describing to her scenes from porn films and women with unnaturally large breasts. “He spoke about acts he had seen in pornographic films, involving such matters as women having sex with animals, and films showing group sex, or rape scenes,” she testified. “On several occasions, Thomas told me graphically of his own sexual prowess.”]
Thomas’s lies undermined and isolated Hill which was his intent. It was her word against his when it could have been her word and the words of several others which would have dramatically altered the narrative. As we have seen in today’s times (“Me Too”) women who come forward alongside other women only buttress the case and are more likely to be believed, as unfair as that may be. Steam is gathered, the locomotive quickly gains speed and the force and power is difficult to counter and impossible to silence. Anita Hill in 1991 was never afforded what then may have been considered this luxury but now is thought to be this right.
Alaska attorney Moira Smith wrote about her own experience with Thomas’s highly inappropriate behavior and sexual misconduct in 1999. “At the age of 24, I found out I’d be attending a dinner at my boss’s house with Justice Clarence Thomas,” she began. “I was so incredibly excited to meet him, rough confirmation hearings notwithstanding. He was charming in many ways — giant, booming laugh, charismatic, approachable.
But to my complete shock, he groped me while I was setting the table, suggesting I should ‘sit right next to him.’ When I feebly explained I’d been assigned to the other table, he groped again… ‘Are you sure?’ I said I was and proceeded to keep my distance.”
Smith had remained silent for seventeen years but was so infuriated by then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s “grab ’em by the pussy” humdinger, she neither could nor would remain close-mouthed.
Marcia Coyle, a highly regarded Supreme Court reporter for The National Law Journal, got wind of Smith’s account and wrote a detailed story about her allegation of the behind-squeezing which was corroborated by Smith’s roommates at the time of the dinner and also by her former husband.
Coyle’s story, denied by Thomas was published on October 27, 2016, a rather unfortunate timeline. The news was buried by coverage of James Comey’s letter, reopening the Hillary Clinton email probe. Thomas was saved by the bell again.
Lillian McEwen, a lawyer who dated Thomas for years during the time that Hill had levied the sexual harassment allegations, knew what was what. McEwen told the New York Times she was surprised that then-Senator Joe Biden who was running the hearings hadn’t called her to testify.
She had written to Biden beforehand to say that she had “personal knowledge” of Thomas. What convinced her to break her silence in 2010 was the call Thomas’s wife Ginni made to Hill on October 9th of that year imploring her to apologize for her testimony in 1991.
“The Clarence I know was certainly capable not only of doing the things that Anita Hill said he did, but it would be totally consistent with the way he lived his personal life then,” she remarked. He would tell McEwen “about women he encountered at work and what he’d said to them. He was partial to women with large breasts.” McEwen also recalled that once Thomas was so “impressed” by a colleague’s chest that he asked her bra size.
Sexual harassment? Rhetorical then and now. But critically important if divulged during the 1991 confirmation hearings because it echoed the testimony of another witness, Angela Wright who stated during questioning from Judiciary Committee members that Thomas had asked her what size bra she wore when she worked for him at the EEOC.
Perhaps McEwen’s coup de grace? [Clarence] “was always actively watching the women he worked with to see if they could be potential partners” as “a hobby of his,” a fact not lost on Sukari Hardnett. Yet another EEOC worker with something relevant to share, she conceded that, “if you were young, black, female and reasonably attractive and worked directly for Clarence Thomas, you knew full well you were being inspected and auditioned as a female.”
And just how exactly does all of this square with Thomas’ staunch claim under oath that “I do not and did not commingle my personal life with my work life.”? Or with his other under-oath falsehoods?
He is a liar. The man who holds a crucial vote on the Supreme Court and wields enormous power over women’s rights — workplace, reproductive and otherwise — is a well-documented liar. Clarence Thomas’s thinking is pockmarked by his treatment — read objectification — of women. And few men alive in America, save for his fellow justices and Donald Trump (simply because he holds the office of the President of the United States) have more influence when it comes to shaping and defining what is possible for our nation’s women now and moving forward.
Lying can kill you. A genius with all the bonafides can weave an intricate labyrinth of lies and overlook something along the way. Nobody can think of everything. Not Clarence Thomas and certainly not Donald Trump. If a lawyer were to knowingly lie in court, disbarment could very well be part of the punishment. Since 1989, three federal judges have been impeached and barred from office for various charges all of which include lying.
Clarence Thomas, born in Pin Point, Georgia ascended to the highest legal position in the United States. Donald Trump, born in New York City holds the highest political office in this country and by virtue of that is arguably the most powerful person in the world.
Speaking of being “born,” the late Billy Martin whose managerial tenure included no fewer than five terms with the New York Yankees (1975-’78; 1979; 1983; 1985; and 1988) once in a fit of pique remarked about Reggie Jackson and George Steinbrenner that “they deserve each other.” [One’s] a born liar, and the other’s convicted.”
Had either Clarence Thomas or Donald Trump divulged a conviction on their respective records, they would not effectively be where they are.
Born liars however?
Think about it.