Anyone who watched some of the interviews given recently by SCOTUS associate justice Clarence Thomas (upon the recent release of his book, My Grandfather’s Son) could understand the bitterness Thomas still feels regarding his Senate confirmation hearings almost exactly 16 years ago. Thomas was not even “borked,” as spiteful as that term is. The “bork” treatment was confrontational, or at least vaguely so. Thomas was the victim of a well-orchestrated sneak attack, apparently by staffers with an okay from Senators Kennedy and Metzenbaum, and probably with the blessing of Senator Simon. Bork was challenged vis-à-vis the Constitution; Thomas was the victim of attempted character assassination.
The history is sordid. Thomas had already passed through his hearing process and the recommendation for a Senate vote was about to take place when – suddenly, supposedly – new information, leaked to the press, of course, had been developed that proved that Thomas had harassed Anita Hill, an obscure law professor in Arkansas who had once (actually, at least twice) worked for Thomas in the Washington bureaucracy scene. She had said nothing derogatorily about his nomination in July 1991, apparently had been enthused by it in August at the ABA meeting…then, had a memory refreshment experience.
Hill was a lawyer and had no desire to be caught up in the possibility of committing perjury in sworn testimony before a Senate committee, so she made a statement (at whose prodding?) weeks before the hearing that she insisted must allow to be anonymous. It was leaked; otherwise, it would have been of no use. This meant that Hill had to be convinced to testify. Caught in a bind of her own making, she consented and, of course, had to make up her story. Actually, she did commit perjury in the morning during her chance at the committee, but Senator Specter let her off the hook in the afternoon, allowing her to “correct herself.”
Even a middle-school student could have understood what was happening. Other witnesses were simply rounded up in the twinkling of an eye. Such subjects as pubic hair and the size of a penis were introduced into the lurid testimony, as Chairman Joe Biden and his henchmen literally licked their chops at getting to lynch a Bush 41 appointee. Actually, when he finally got the committee in his sights and tore into it full-bore, Thomas did accuse them of attempting a “high-tech lynching.”
Hill, of course, had never lodged a complaint against Thomas. She was enough of a lawyer to know that she could have taken him to the cleaners long before 1991 if she’d had a case. Instead, she actually followed him from one department to another, all of which material was a matter of public documentation. The senators knew this, but they couldn’t stand the thought of a conservative thinker and strict constructionist making it to the court.
One could go on remarking the intolerable shabbiness connected with the Thomas hearings; however, this much is mentioned to point out the fact that congressional committees and lawmakers in general are only as effective as their integrity allows them to be. The number that Biden and company tried to pull on Thomas (“Leaky” Leahy also a member of that committee) indicates the sordid lengths to which the solons will go to work their will, without so much as a single twitch of conscience with regard to people they destroy, maliciously in Thomas’s case, in the process.
Nor does it seem to matter how the kettle calls the pot black, even when the pot is not black with regard to moral turpitude. Biden, three years before, had been forced out of his presidential bid for plagiarizing a speech(s), stealing someone else’s words. Leahy was forced to resign from the Senate Intelligence Committee after leaking information on the Iran-Contra investigation only some three or so years before. Senator Kennedy left Mary Jo Kopechne either drowned or in the process of drowning in his car in 1969, went to his hotel and went to bed without even reporting the accident, and later consulted with his buddies on just what should be done. Beautiful people…and they were presuming to judge Clarence Thomas.
The latest skullduggery hatched by the Senate Judiciary Committee – this time with ole “Leaky” in the driver’s seat – was thrown at recently-resigned attorney general Gonzales, supposedly with respect to the termination of eight federal prosecutors, whom the president could have fired at any time with – as Senator Specter explained – no explanation whatever. Slick Willie fired all of them in one day, with no explanation whatever. Neither “Leaky” nor his sidekick Biden, now running again for the presidency (whose speeches this time?), gave a fig about the prosecutors, but they meant to “get” Gonzales, whom they had spent a large part of his term trying to nail, apparently for whatever reason they could conjure up.
Both parties are culpable in the area of outright corruption, which was the hallmark of the Thomas hearing as well as the ones Gonzales seemed to be attending on almost a daily basis until last month. The democrats, however, have managed to wallow in the pig-sty in the matters mentioned herein. Disgusting!