June 30, 2003

Once in a Blue Moon

For Kevin Drum, it is Conservative Defense Day. A once in a blue moon event. I'm not sure he's correct about Bush, but I think he is about Clarence Thomas...

Posted by DeLong at June 30, 2003 08:22 PM | TrackBack

Comments

The point he is making about Thomas may be correct in a general sense, but that is not reason to give Clarence a pass. It is ok, in general, to object to a situation or institution from which one has benefitted. Thomas has stepped far beyond that line, however. Didn't Thomas spend a good bit of his speechifying time prior to being nominated to the court lying about his own sister in order to criticize welfare programs? Didn't his guys trash a perfectly competent attorney named Hill for (reluctantly, at first) testifying that Thomas engaged in sexual harrassment? He is a massive hypocrit on social and racial issues. That hypocracy has taken him a long way in life. Drum focuses narrowly on one comment from Dowd, missing the broader context - a moral disaster empowered to interpret the US constitution in a way that is binding on all of us.

Posted by: K Harris on July 1, 2003 07:53 AM

Please, if Thomas was actually serious about his opposition to affirmative action, he would immediately step down from the high court and relinguish his Yale diploma.

No, Thomas is busy preventing other people from taking advantage of the same programs he himself has benefitted from, which makes him a hypocrite in every sense of the word - period, end of sentence.

Posted by: Gad on July 1, 2003 08:44 AM

Clarence Thomas graduated ninth in his 1971 Holy Cross class. He was well qualified to enter Yale Law School. The only benefit he received was that both(Affirmative Action Version 1.0?) Holy Cross and Yale Law began to actively recruit blacks who were qualified. The quota system in place at the U of Michigan is nothing like what AA originally was.

Btw, contrast the intellectual and professional accomplishments of Thomas with those of Anita Hill who entered Yale Law School on a very different AA program.

" Didn't his guys trash a perfectly competent attorney named Hill for (reluctantly, at first) testifying that Thomas engaged in sexual harrassment?"

No, he told the truth about her. As did several women who had worked with both of them. Clearly Anita Hill had been making up stories about having been the victim of sexual harassment over the years to cover up her failures at a private law firm, and those stories got attributed to Clarence Thomas by the ditzy Susan Hirchner.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on July 1, 2003 09:00 AM

Clarence good. Anita bad. Typical radical-right looney Pitty Patty Sully.

Posted by: arthur on July 1, 2003 09:05 AM

The Republican Party is dominated not by conservatives but by social and economic radicals, and for such radicals there should be no defense.

Posted by: dahl on July 1, 2003 09:45 AM

Clarence is Clarence is Clarence -

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/06/25/opinion/25DOWD.html

Could Thomas Be Right?
By MAUREEN DOWD

What a cunning man Clarence Thomas is.

He knew that he could not make a powerful legal argument against racial preferences, given the fact that he got into Yale Law School and got picked for the Supreme Court thanks to his race.

So he made a powerful psychological argument against what the British call "positive discrimination," known here as affirmative action.

Justice Thomas's dissent in the 5-4 decision preserving affirmative action in university admissions has persuaded me that affirmative action is not the way to go.

The dissent is a clinical study of a man who has been driven barking mad by the beneficial treatment he has received....

Posted by: jd on July 1, 2003 11:26 AM

The slurs about Anita Hill cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged. A REAL conservative person would never stoop to anything so caddish as repeating discredited slurs about a lady.

It really offends my sense of honor that books like "The Real Anita Hill" (Brock) continue to have their allegations repeated. Brock later did a full confession of how the allegations against Ms. Hill were propagated, and how all of the Hill-slandering publications referred to the same memes. As furious as I am with Sullivan's utter disregard for the truth, honor, and common decency, I'll refrain from going any further than to say this: all of what he has said has been entirely discredited, root and branch.

Sullivan, you a disgrace. You have no honor. You attack people who are either powerless or relatively weak. You attack ethnic minorities and, in the person of a woman who RELUCTANTLY testified before Congress, you attack women who challenge power. I hope for your sake you develop a sense of honor and repent of your disgraceful conduct.

Good day, sir.

Posted by: James R MacLean on July 1, 2003 01:11 PM

"God told me...." I don't know how far from the horses mouth this claim comes, but did this happen at a White House Prayer meeting or what? I would like to hear the White House's comments on this. Would they actually deny that God speaks to George?

Posted by: Bruce Ferguson on July 1, 2003 01:13 PM

Quite a mouthful from James R. MacLean, and NONE of it will stand up to scrutiny. E.g., none of the people who testified that Hill had told them she was a victim of sexual harassment said she had named Clarence Thomas as the harrasser.

Except for the underachieving Yale Law School grad and unemployment compensation judge, Susan Hoerchner. And she was lying, under oath. Hoerchner moved away from Washington D.C. BEFORE Hill went to work for Clarence Thomas. The timeline doesn't work.

But one that does is that Hill concocted the harassment story to shield her from the embarrassment of having to move down from a position at Wald Harkrader to a low level government job. Btw, I just loved the revelation that Yale grad Hill had to take a night class to improve her writing skills.

Further, David Brock did not repudiate his book, only some of the more salacious stuff in it ("a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty"). All the evidence points to Anita Hill being the untruthful party. But of course, some people can't handle the truth. Shelby Steele recently explained why, and I've quoted it on another thread here.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on July 1, 2003 02:44 PM

So let's see. In his dissent Thomas said a problem with AA is that creates a stigma on all successful blacks, because ...

"... it is an open question today whether their skin color played a part in their advancement. The question itself is the stigma -- because either racial discrimination did play a role, in which case the person may be deemed 'otherwise unqualified,' or it did not, in which case asking the question itself unfairly marks those blacks who would succeed without discrimination."

Then Mo very cleverly proves and demonstrates his point herself personally by slurring him as an ungrateful beneficiary of AA: "The dissent is a clinical study of a man who has been driven barking mad by the beneficial treatment he has received...."

Go Mo! Really, trees must die for this crap?

Damn. Doesn't it remind one of how earlier generations of blacks who wanted to stand up on their own as equals to everyone else were damned by their superior white patrons for being ungrateful to the point of being "crazy" for the patronizing care provided to them, what with them *not* being able to function as equals and all?

Go Mo! Speaking for *superior* caring, generous, sensitive, white patronizing liberals everywhere. ;-)

Posted by: Jim Glass on July 1, 2003 04:13 PM

Well, I'll give you points for politeness. But accuracy? Look, I read Brock's book cover to cover. Either he was hopelessly dishonest when he wrote *The Real Anita Hill* or when he was writing *Blinded By the Right.* You can believe whatever you want, I won't stop you.

But have you no decency, Mr. Sullivan? Justice Thomas is a powerful figure with a powerful, well-heeled staff of full-time defenders. Anita Hill is a private individual who "cleverly" brought down on her head the fury of every superrich right wing thinktank on earth. The scale of resources marshalled to publicly humiliate a private citizen (who, contrary to what you say, most assuredly did not have the power or the desire to have herselve plastered all over the evening news for weeks) is stunning.

And you feel no shame about doing so. Who can possibly work morning, noon and night refuting every slur that the freeper crowd generates about A PRIVATE CITIZEN? You have gotten so wrapped up in partisan zeal that everyone who criticizes a prominent rightist has to be vilified. Even if the critic was in fact a political conservative herself!

You might assume I'm upset because I'm political liberal. That's a reasonable supposition, but I wouldn't exactly object if you declared that a liberal scoundrel was, indeed, a scoundrel--especially one who was in public office. Go right ahead. Call me a scoundrel. I don't really care. Perhaps I'm wrong and you're right, and that makes me a scoundrel. But when you simply attack *everyone* whose very existence chalenges your views, I think you are either behaving hysterically or immorally.

Posted by: James R MacLean on July 1, 2003 04:16 PM

"Didn't his guys trash a perfectly competent attorney named Hill for (reluctantly, at first) testifying that Thomas engaged in sexual harrassment? He is a massive hypocrit ... "

Geeze. Thomas was accused of talking about sex by a woman who nonetheless voluntarily followed him from job to job.

A little later, when another high government official faced allegations of up to assaulting women (Kathleen Willey, et. al.) *his* guys put private detectives on the payroll to research and trash them, dismissed them publicly as "poor white trash", got feminists like Gloria Steinem to write op-eds in the NY Times saying: So what? Women are adults who ought to be able to say "no" for themselves (let's see a feminist take that position in a case against a business executive for sexual harassment!) and on and on.

So let's not get into the subject of "hypocrisy" and sexual politics. ;-)

Posted by: Jim Glass on July 1, 2003 04:33 PM

Actually, Mr. Glass, here is a link to the Washington Post story on Ms. Wiley's allegations:
"http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/clinton/stories/willeyletters.htm"
The official rebuttal is that Ms. Wiley sent those letters to the President after alleging he had groped her against her will. Am I certain the letters are real? No. But the rebuttal to Ms. Wiley's allegations are documentary evidence she furnished--not slanders of her character.

Perhaps I'm missing something here, but here, an accused person used the only evidence he had to defend himself. In the other case (of Justice Thomas), highly dubious, much-discredited allegations of an accuser's character were simply recycled and embellished.

Here is a link to NOW Pres. Patricia Ireland's statement on the allegations:
"http://www.now.org/press/03-98/03-16-98.html"

The Gloria Steinem article in the NYT was repeatedly misrepresented in conservative publications. I googled it and found lots of allusions to it. It ran in the NY Times 22 March 1998. Here is an abstract:

ABSTRACT - Gloria Steinem Op-Ed article rejects demands from the right wing and media that feminists call for Pres Clinton's resignation or impeachment, saying that for all the insensitivity of his alleged treatment of women, he remains their most crucial champion and a bulwark against anti-abortion forces in particular; moreover, she argues, Kathleen E Willey and Paula Corbin Jones both acknowedge that he halted his alleged advances as soon as they indicated their lack of interest, something that Clarence Thomas and Bob Packwood did not do, according to their accusers; says that Clinton's alleged affair with Monica S Lewinsky is reported as being entirely consensual and that if he lied about it under oath, feminists, like most other Americans, will temper their condemnation with an sympathy for someone wanting to keep private sexual acts private; drawing (M) If all the sexual allegations now swirling around the White House turn out to be true, President Clinton may be a candidate for sex addiction therapy. But feminists will still have been right to resist pressure by the right wing and the media to call for his resignation or impeachment.
----------------------------END ABSTRACT
I would humbly submit that's rather a different kettle of fish. And liberals are very far from being monolithic. It's rather awkward to call a group hypocritical. It implies they have a moral obligation to agree all the time and share an identical moral standard.

BTW, yes, I try to avoid making the assumption that all conservatives think a certain thing; or, that if you're opposed to affirmative action, you must favor the Iraq invasion; or other assumptions of association. I hope this sets your mind at ease.

Posted by: James R MacLean on July 1, 2003 05:12 PM

" Go right ahead. Call me a scoundrel. I don't really care. Perhaps I'm wrong and you're right, and that makes me a scoundrel. But when you simply attack *everyone* whose very existence chalenges your views, I think you are either behaving hysterically or immorally."

Whether you are a scoundrel or not is of no interest to me. Clearly, you are a person with no self-awareness at all. Clearly you are the hysterical party.

Clearly you have no grasp of the evidence, nor even of the circumstances of the Thomas Hill dispute (i.e., HE was the one about whom the vile allegations were made. HE merely defended himself with the truth; the documentary record supports HIM at every turn).

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on July 1, 2003 06:04 PM

"Justice Thomas is a powerful figure with a powerful, well-heeled staff of full-time defenders. Anita Hill is a private individual who "cleverly" brought down on her head the fury of every superrich right wing..."

That's right. Thomas utilized all his vast financial resources as a federal judge with a then five-digit salary.

But Hill stood alone, with no support, assistance or coaching -- as Democratic interest groups are so well known for having been so uninterested in and incapable of objecting to conservative judicial nominees, from Bork to Estrada.

Gee, I greatly enjoy liberals who think they are morally superior because only conservatives sink to engaging in politics. ;-)

But how did the verb "to Bork" (as in "to have people go through a judicial candidate's garbage looking for stuff to use at a hearing") enter the political lexicon?

Posted by: Jim Glass on July 1, 2003 06:27 PM

" The Gloria Steinem article in the NYT was repeatedly misrepresented in conservative publications."

Such as this one?:

------------quote----------
March 27, 1998
ON MY MIND / By A.M. ROSENTHAL

Murdered In the Park

LONDON -- Every night, after work as a secretary in a Manhattan office, a slender young woman in her 20's took the subway to the Mosholu Parkway station in the Bronx, nearly the end of the line.

....

One night a few days before New Year's Eve -- she had a new permanent, specially for the parties -- a man emerged from the bushes and exposed his genitals to her.

She screamed and she ran. She ran and she ran. She
arrived home shivering but drenched in sweat and that night she developed a cold and fever that swiftly became pneumonia. My sister Bess died in the apartment, on New Year's Eve.

....

Bess said "no" to that man, with her life, our darling sister. Now we are told by Gloria Steinem, an old friend of mine who helped build the feminist movement, that even if Bill Clinton, then Governor of Arkansas, dropped his trousers before Paula Jones, exposed his genitals and asked her for oral sex, as Ms. Jones says
he did, he was not guilty of sexual harassment because he had accepted her "no."

Gloria, Gloria, what are you saying? Would you have said it to Bess's mother and father, who wept at her grave and berated God for not taking them first, or to her three sisters who died after her, or to the one who survives? ....

But I do know Gloria Steinem. She is an acute person. I think she has blinded herself politically to protect a man she sees as a champion of women's rights. For a
feminist leader, that is an act of grievous
intellectual self-mutilation.

In an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times, Ms. Steinem wrote that if a woman says "no" and a man does not further push himself on her, uninvited genital exposure is not sexual harassment. Even if he lied about it Ms. Steinem would not be disturbed, because "perhaps we have a responsibility to make it O.K. for politicians
to tell the truth -- providing they are respectful of 'no means no.' . . ."

----------ENDQUOTE--------

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on July 1, 2003 06:35 PM

"if Thomas was actually serious about his opposition to affirmative action, he would immediately step down from the high court and relinguish his Yale diploma."

Yes, yes, and if Prof. Krugman was actually serious about wanting the rich to pay more in taxes he'd have relinquished an extra 10 points of them on each of his $50,000 speaking fees and have sent it to the Treasury voluntarily....

"No, Thomas is busy preventing other people from taking advantage of the same programs he himself has benefitted from ..."

... yet all along he's selfishly taken advantage of those low tax rates the Republicans have had in since Reagan, doing his bit to drive up the deficits he publicly decries. ;-)

Ah, but we see your point though. If you are so generous as to make all blacks benefit from AA, then if one of them crosses you with a conservative point of view on it you can dismiss him as a selfish hypocritical ingrate, a la Mo. That's one way to try to keep people on the plantation.

But it's an old notion and it never works in the end. There's a great line in Citizen Kane about this kind of thinking.

Posted by: Jim Glass on July 1, 2003 07:52 PM

Actually, Mr. MacLean, I want to thank you for repeating my points for me.

If you read Ms. Steinem's actual op-ed you will find she says the allegation about Thomas involved him "describing sexual practices and pornography".

I.e., his great supposed sin was *talking* ... to adults. (Of course, his accusers also brought up the damning charge that as a bachelor in his 30s he had copies of Playboy in his apartment, but Ms. S. omits that.)

As to the allegations involving Clinton, she reports "[Jones] went to then-Governor Clinton's hotel room, where she said he asked her to perform oral sex and even dropped his trousers." Which is rather more than talk, eh?

Steinem also recaps the Willey charges and says if these things are true Clinton may need "sex addiction therapy"* But even if true, she says feminists must stand by Clinton to keep him in office, because ...

(1) it was these women's responsibility to say "no", as they did, and then he stopped -- so he did nothing wrong; and

(2) if he had acted "with comparable insensitivity toward environmentalists ... would they be expected to desert him? I don't think so." I.e, simply because he was a *Democrat*, not a Republican, and he was their "most crucial champion and bulwark against a hostile Republican Congress".

Though why wouldn't Al Gore have been just as good a bulwark? I dunno. Should Al have felt slighted here?

And, btw, what would the "comparable insensitivity" to environmentalists be to match dropping your pants and asking for it, to a feminist? ;-)

This was really a great op-ed, from 'words are more actionable than deeds' through all the rest -- you really can't misrepresent something this public, and there's hardly any need to.

Anyway, in all my many years as a lawyer I've never heard of a single case of sex harassment brought against a powerful boss for harassing an employee -- especially as coarsely as by *exposing* himself to her -- where the defense answered with the argument "Well, she said 'no', and he's a Democrat". If you know of any please do tell, I'd be professionally interested.

[* Democrats are victims of illness who need therapy. Republicans like Sen. Packwood are sexual predators who must be driven out of office.]

"Here is a link to NOW Pres. Patricia Ireland's statement..."

Thanks. If guns ever come up in discussion remind me to give you a link to the NRA. ;-)

P.S.: You know the "what if" irony here is that if Gloria and Co. had actually had any principles and had stuck to them, realizing that Al was a bulwark too, Al might have run for president as an incumbent and won, maybe with a Democratic Senate as well, and things today might be different than they are. It wouldn't have taken much to butterfly that election. Sometimes selling your principles short can be costly.

Posted by: Jim Glass on July 1, 2003 08:44 PM

It is bizarre to suggest that Hill's reluctance-- i.e., her preference for a whispering campaign over a public confrontation-- somehow adds to her credibility. Considered as a *wish* it's at least understandable, but as a *demand* it's clearly unreasonable. When you accuse a public figure, you can expect to be called upon to do so publicly. The continuing amazement of Hill and her fans that everyone didn't simply take her word for everything is comical.

Posted by: Paul Zrimsek on July 1, 2003 09:24 PM

OK - Patrick Sullivan really is a scoundrel. Never had the leeeeeast doubt.

Posted by: arthur on July 2, 2003 09:15 AM
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