The Biggest Loser
By Gregory Allen Howard | Posted March 13, 2009 10:30 AM
Not Sarah Palin. Not John McCain. Not the Republican Party.
No. The biggest loser was Clarence Thomas. Watch him as he sits but a few feet away from Barack Obama at the swearing in ceremony. Watch the furious, suppressed envy in his eyes. The hatred. The jealousy. In his small, simple brain he thinks: Him? That should be me taking the oath of office. I've done everything they wanted.
Before Barack Obama was elected President, the highest-ranking black person in the government was Justice Clarence Thomas. He knew it and acted thusly. The arrogant, wrinkled sneer of his lips said everything about him. Lifetime tenure on the highest court in the world. One of nine. He was a king, and he thought, eventually, the Civil Rights establishment would come and kiss his ring because he could never be eclipsed; no one would ever outrank him. There was but one little bitty problem with his grandiose scenario... Barack Obama.
Justice Thomas has created the Clarence Thomas Story--a narrative, equal parts facts and fiction, and full of anguished victimology. Born po', picked myself up, worked hard, overcame racism, lifted myself up to a college education, shocked to find I got into Yale Law under affirmative action, couldn't get a job after law school because no one believed my grades were earned, but continued to lift myself up working in government, and earned a seat on the Supreme Court. Bootstraps. Did it myself with no help from the dreaded preferences. Once on the court, I rail against those evil racial preferences, citing Booker T. Washington. Lift yourself up by your bootstraps. Don't be stigmatized. Look at me. I'm the paradigm. I did it!! And so on and so forth...
In an appearance at Saddleback Church with Pastor Rick Warren, Barack Obama pierced this largely fictional narrative by saying that Clarence Thomas was not qualified to be on the Supreme Court. Narrative up in flames--paper tiger, exposed. Not qualified. Obama did not mention his ideology. He did not have to. He compared Clarence to Justice Scalia, whom he completely disagreed with, but said Scalia was qualified to be on the court: Thomas was not. And make note, Barack Obama was president of the Harvard Law Review. He has been around brilliant jurists and lawyers his entire professional life.
Thomas has developed a brilliant and effective defense against the attacks on his right wing sellout ideology. "I have a different ideology. I don't have to subscribe to your (the Civil Rights Establishment) thinking. I think for myself." Blah, blah, blah.
It must have been like acid was poured on Thomas. And what was left exposed was that the emperor was not wearing any clothes at all. He was the ultimate bad affirmative action hire: no qualifications for the job, in over his head, and could not be fired. When George Bush One announced his appointment, he said, "Thomas is the most qualified man for this job." Huh? Let's take a look at this most qualified man and his "story."
Clarence attended Holy Cross in the sixties when Holy Cross, like other elite universities, was aggressively recruiting Black students. Yes, the tar baby of the right, Affirmative Action, is the reason this heretofore, 99% white elite Catholic University admitted Thomas. Further, Yale Law, where Thomas was accepted also was aggressively recruiting Black students in the sixties. Why? Because the Civil Rights Struggle moved them to inclusiveness; that same Civil Rights struggle that Clarence Thomas has repeated demeaned and belittled. Yes, this hypocrite owes his education at these elite institutions to Black people who got their heads cracked open and died.
First bootstrap pulling--the Civil Rights Movement.
In Clarence's narrative, he says he was "shocked" to find that he had been admitted under AA. He wasn't the least bit shocked. He knew. And once there, if he were "shocked," what stopped him from earning selection to the Yale Law Review? Surely that would have been a way to prove his worth everyone. No, he did not make Law Review. Surely, to prove his worth he finished 1st in his class, or won one of the moot court competitions. Surely, his legal writing was so brilliant that it was published in some other law journal somewhere. No. Surely there must have been something that this brilliant law student did to distinguish himself at Yale... No.
Contrast that to Barack Obama who became not just a member of the Harvard Law Review, but president, the first African American in history. See the difference.
The Clarence Thomas narrative turns into pure fiction after law school. Po' Clarence, one of a handful of black students from Yale Law School, supposedly could not get a job at any of the big law firms because they didn't believe he earned the grades he got at Yale. Oh really. Please note that not one of the other black students who graduated with Clarence has come forward to say that he or she could land the job of their choice after graduating from Yale. Not one.
So Clarence began his career in government working under Missouri Attorney General, John Danforth, the first of many appointments. After a brief stint in the private sector, he then came to Washington as a legislative assistant to now Senator Danforth. Another appointment. A few years later Clarence was appointed to head the EEOC, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, pushed by his sponsor, Senator Danforth. It was in this position that he harassed Anita Hill (one of them lying; guess who).
A few years later, after his right wing ideology had been fully on display at EEOC, and he had proved himself "brave" enough to condemn the Civil Rights Movement, he was rewarded with an appellate judgeship. Yet another appointment. He served there for approximately a year before being nominated to the Supreme Court.
Note, in that year on the appellate bench he never authored a single important opinion. Not one. There are now, and have always been, federal judges who are so brilliant that the Supreme Court cites them in their decisions. There are federal judges who fill up Law Journals, write landmark legal books, many of them legal scholars, moving the law with their brilliance. Not Clarence. No published writings. No books. Nothing. He wrote a couple of inconsequential opinions that no one cared to publish. He was in over his head on this appellate court. Not once, did anyone ever use the words "brilliant" and "Clarence Thomas" in the same sentence.
He would have stayed there and ended his life in mediocre obscurity, rocking back and forth in oral arguments, lost. But Thurgood Marshall died, and George Bush One was President. The circus that was his confirmation followed. The rest, as they say, is history.
If one looks at Clarence's career, it is mediocre by any measure: a few minor jobs in government, an important job, EEOC, which gave him a platform to exhibit his contempt for the very movement that created that position, a year on the appellate court dazzling no one, and then boom--appointed to the Supreme Court. Clarence did not pull himself up by his bootstraps; his sponsors did. He didn't earn anything. It was all given to him on account of his race/ideology.
If a white man with this meager background of minor government bureaucrat, an undistinguished lawyer, non-published legal writing, not a legal author, never even appeared in federal court, had been put up for the Supreme Court, there would have been outrage. Except that he was Black. The right wing proved once again by his appointment, that it cares nothing for qualification, only ideology. And Thomas learned early on that if he parroted right wing policy and condemned the very people and movement that provided him his opportunities, he would be rewarded handsomely. The pay for selling out your people is always good.
But, all the lying, the fiction, the selling out that Thomas used to gain this position has come to naught. Yes, he is still on the court, but his extremism has moved the other justices away from him. Even Scalia, no liberal, has derided Thomas's refusal to honor stare decesis. Clarence's law clerks are picked for him by a conservative legal foundation. They write his opinions for him; the few he is ever given to write that is. He's an embarrassment.
But fortunately, Thomas has been diminished, and rendered a nullity because another black man, elegant, brilliant, beautiful, a man who loves black people as much as Clarence hates them, leapfrogged over him. And this ascendancy by Barack Obama moved even Black Republicans to tears: Colin Powell, Condi Rice, and Juan Williams. Did anyone see Clarence cry?
And Thomas, angry, bitter and unqualified will have to look at this man who revealed him for the fraud that he is for the next 8 years. Once a year at the State of the Union, Thomas will sit just a few feet from Obama. He will have to watch him and listen to him, his eloquence, his command. That will be difficult for Clarence. It will be so painful that Thomas may actually implode; he may even explode. We could only hope...
Anyone who thinks that Thomas's envy and hatred is conjecture, or a mere fantasy, need only look at Clarence's December attempt to push one of those frivolous Obama citizenship cases on the Supreme Court docket. This is after Justice Souter had already turned it down. Yes, the Silent Justice, as he is called because he rarely opens his mouth during oral arguments, sprung to life on this one. He got excited about the chance to send Obama back to the Senate, vitiate a landslide election, and remain the black king in Washington. It didn't matter that every single court, in every jurisdiction, at every judicial level, had rejected these silly suits. What Clarence did by trying to get this foolishness docketed after another member of the Court turned it down, never, ever happens on the Court.
Clarence Thomas's frustration, anger, and bitterness, and jealousy had now bled into his not-so-nimble brain; it affected his already risible judgment. Can you imagine what that conference was like? Clarence had to look at Souter, liberal, but respected even by the right wing of the Court, who rejected this petition, and his fellow esteemed qualified jurists, and try to sell them on accepting this utterly frivolous petition. He only needed three other votes to put it on the docket. Trust me, no one in that room even flirted with the idea of accepting this petition. Those justices must have looked at Clarence with a combination of pity and disbelief. Or, maybe they looked at him more benevolently and thought: Clarence has become insane.
But he is not crazy, he's just... Clarence; Uncle Remus wearing a robe: an embittered, eclipsed, forgotten Negro-- outted by the most admired man in the world, the first African American President, a Black man who earned his way to the top, a self-made man, not an appointed man, who pulled himself up by his bootstraps, and never forgot or rejected his people.
And Clarence Thomas? Once a footstool of the right wing, now just a footnote, He will be known now and forever for what he really is: The Unqualified Justice. Thank goodness Obama has pulled that robe off, and laid bare this pathetic little man who thought himself a king, but was and is, only a pawn. And Thomas knows only too well that the real king resides down the block.