Sunday, November 19, 2017

Fair Is Fair. Do We Have A Deal?

Slate's Ruth Graham approvingly, even satisfyingly, summarizes

The nonpartisan nature of the current moment of reckoning helps explain why the Bill Clinton moment has finally arrived. On Monday, Caitlin Flanagan published an essay in theAtlantic arguing that it’s time for liberals to reassess Bill Clinton’s moral legacy. On Tuesday, Michelle Goldberg wrote a column in the New York Times titled “I Believe Juanita.” “I think we got it wrong,” Matt Yglesias wrote in Vox on Wednesday. “The [Lewinsky] scandal was never about infidelity or perjury—or at least, it shouldn’t have been. It was about power in the workplace and its use.” In hindsight, he concludes, Clinton should have resigned.

In hindsight, Yglesias is wrong, except that had Clinton resigned, Al Gore would have become President and been elected in 2000, which probably would have prevented US military involvement in Iraq, brought the issue of climate change to the fore, and would have kept Samuel Alito and John Roberts off the Supreme Court.

That's not what Clinton's critics have in mind, but let's strike a deal.  Democrats will acknowledge that Bill Clinton should have been convicted by the Senate and hence removed from office. In return, Republicans agree that a major mistake was made in the autumn of 1991.  Given that both events are well in the past, comparison of the latter with Clinton is far more appropriate than comparing Bill Clinton to Roy Moore, Al Franken, or anyone else.

Clarence Thomas was a liar. He did not merely deceive, obfuscate, or misled, but instead lied his way onto the United States Supreme Court while playing the race card more ruthlessly than it ever was or has been, alleging a "high-tech lynching for uppity blacks...."

We know Clarence Thomas sexually harassed Anita Hill because Angela Wright, who had worked under Thomas at the EEOC, had told Senate interviewers that Thomas once asked her on their way to a meeting "What size are your breasts?" However, Biden harbored doubts about her veracity and discouraged her from testifying. Yet, in a 2010 memoir Lillian McEwen, Thomas' girlfriend at the time of the disputed events, says Thomas "was obsessed with porn. He would talk about what he had seen in magazines worth noting" and that he would talk aout the women with whom he worked- especially regarding their breast size.

We know Thomas sexually harassed Anita Hill because, as laid out by Steve Kornacki in 2010

Rose Jourdain, who had worked with Wright under Thomas, told committee investigators that Wright had spoken to her while they worked together about their boss' conduct. As later reported by Graves, "Though her recollections had differed slightly from Wright's, Jourdain ... had confirmed the basic elements of Wright's account, including Wright's anger at Thomas for what Wright had said was overtly sexist behavior. Jourdain had mentioned "comments [Wright] told me that he was making concerning her figure, her body, her breasts, her legs, how she looked in certain suits and dresses."

We know Thomas sexually harassed Anita Hill because

Three Hill friends -- Susan Hoerchner, Ellen Wells and John Carr -- testified under oath that she had told them about Thomas' conduct as it happened between 1981 and 1983. "Anita said that Clarence Thomas had repeatedly asked her out ... that he wouldn't seem to take 'no' for an answer,'' Hoerchner told senators. "The thing Anita told me that struck me particularly and that I remember almost verbatim was that Mr. Thomas had said to her, 'You know, if you had witnesses, you'd have a perfect case against me.'"

We know Thomas sexually harassed Anita Hill because

In a letter to the committee, a former aide to Thomas at the EEOC, Sukari Hardnett, wrote that many black women at the agency felt they were "an object of special interest" to their boss. "If you were young, black, female and reasonably attractive," her letter read, "you knew full well you were being inspected and auditioned as a female."

We know Clarence Thomas sexually harassed Anita Hill because as the Washington Post three years after Thomas' confirmation described the book written by then-Wall Street Journal reporters Jill Abramson and Jane Mayer

"Strange Justice" uses statements from Thomas's friends and associates to undermine Thomas's testimony that he never talked dirty with Hill. The authors, after interviewing acquaintances as far back as his college years at Holy Cross, report that he often recounted sexually explicit films in lurid detail. Kaye Savage, a former colleague, reports that the walls of his bachelor apartment were covered with Playboy nude centerfolds. The owner of a video store near the EEOC said Thomas was a regular customer for pornographic movies."

There was more from Kornacki. But since then we also learned that lawyer Moira Smith- in an incident she described contemporaneously wth four individuals- on 10/7/16 (October 7!) wrote on her Facebook page

At the age of 24, I found out I’d be attending a dinner at my boss’s house with Justice Clarence Thomas. I was so incredibly excited to meet him, rough confirmation harings 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 Ishould sit "right next to him." When I feebly explained that I'd been assigned to the  other table, he groped again.... "are you'sure'"?? I said I was and proceeded to keep my distance.

Thomas was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and confirmed by the full Senate for several reasons. Supporers of Thomas included southerners- and southern blacks, who were important to southern Democratic senators, of whom there were a few back then. Judiciary committee chairperson Biden choked. Additionally, a defiant Thomas was more believable than Hill because sexual harassment and intimidation was little understood at the time and while Hill was calm, the extraordinarily self-righteous Thomas skillfully acted as the aggrieved victim.

But now, some feminist writers and Republicans maintain, we must be more willing to accept the accusations of women that they have been the object of unwanted attention and abuse from men, and the charges against Bill Clinton must be viewed in this spirit of enlightenment. So, okay- let's investigate Mr. Clinton, shall we? And while we're at it, we'll reconsider the case of Hill v. Thomas.

Better yet, if both are found responsible, we can demand that neither hold an office or position in the United States government from this point onward. Game on.

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