Virginia Thomas’s seemingly strange voice mail to Brandeis University law professor Anita Hill demanding that she apologize for “why you did what you did with my husband” drew, snickers, derision and puzzlement. The old charge that Thomas sexually harassed Hill caused a national uproar during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings in 1991 and threatened to derail his confirmation. But, ultimately, it didn’t.
That was nearly two decades ago and this should have long since been rendered a mute point. Thomas is on the high court for life, is still fairly young, and in apparent good health. He has been rock solid in assuring that conservatives keep their 5 to 4 majority edge on each and every ruling that even remotely threatens a conservative, strict constructionist view of the Constitution. Hill for her part issued a terse statement that she had no intention of apologizing to Thomas and that she stood by her initial testimony given to the Senate Judiciary Committee during the confirmation hearings. And even more indignantly said she was offended by Virginia’s call.
So why then is Virginia, “Ginni” as she’s better known, dredging up this seemingly meaningless issue from the past? The answer lie not in Hill’s past allegations of sexual misconduct, but in the multi-pronged assault by hard line conservatives on President Obama and the Democrats’ policies and philosophy on the eve of what’s arguably the most crucial midterm election in decades. Political pundits, analysts and much of the media have virtually declared that the Democrats face a colossal wipe-out this election with the very real possibility that the GOP could snatch back the House, and possibly the Senate. This would escalate the relentless congressional wars between Congress and the Obama administration and threaten to bottle up much of the administration’s initiatives and legislation from energy to immigration reform.
WATCH MSNBC COVERAGE OF THE ANITA HILL-VIRGINIA THOMAS STORY:
Ginni Thomas aims to play a big role in assuring the Democrats political massacre in November. Earlier this year she launched with much fanfare Liberty Central. The prime goal of the group is to raise bushels of cash from corporations and wealthy donors to bankroll conservative candidates, and to keep a scorecard on the voting records of members of Congress. The scorecard is a not so subtle threat to wavering GOP representatives to toe the hard right line against any and everything that the Obama administration proposes. As ostensibly a non-profit, non-partisan group, it can raise as much money as it wants, with absolutely no rules of disclosure. And it can spend as much as it wants to campaign for or against a candidate.
Thomas shrugged off any talk that there’s a potential conflict of interest with the cases and decisions that hubby Clarence decides on the bench. Technically her Liberty Central group doesn’t violate any ethical rules, but the Thomas’s hard right political views and unabashed advocacy of those views hardly constitute political objectivity and neutrality. Virtually any and every case that Thomas weighs in on with an opinion and decision involves the limits of executive power, criminal justice, civil rights, and civil liberties, affirmative action, voting rights, abortion, school prayer, and gender and workplace discrimination. Thomas’s votes are predictable, and reliable, and they are votes to sanction discrimination, uphold unrestricted government power, and oppose even the most blatant civil rights and liberties violations to the point of rendering bizarre legal logic to justify his opinions.
Ginni Thomas’s demand that Hill apologize fits in neatly with the politics, philosophy and game plan of the Tea Party. They want to serve further notice that they are dead serious in putting moderate and liberal Democrats and less than stalwart Republicans on notice that the conservative right intends to take no prisoners in its relentless fight to reassert its power and dominance over Congress and the courts. Thomas knows and probably could care less whether Hill apologizes or not. The apology ploy is really a smokescreen to send the message that conservatives intend to get the political upper hand again.
Clarence Thomas interestingly enough has not uttered a peep about his wife’s cunning and calculated appeal to Hill for an apology. And don’t expect him too. She clearly is the point person on the overt political activism in the Thomas household. He does his thing on the bench to further the conservative onslaught on law and public policy. Now Ginni is determined to do her thing to further the same onslaught in the political arena. Dragging up a dead issue from the past with the Hill apology demand is just part of their game plan. There’s much method to the madness in Hill versus Thomas II.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts a nationally broadcast political affairs radio talk show on Pacifica and KTYM Radio Los Angeles. Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson