December 31, 2004
Fear of the black manBy Thomas Lifson
It is becoming self—evident that the American left is terrified at the prospect of Clarence Thomas becoming Chief Justice of The United States. Senator Harry Reid launched a vicious and wholly unsupported denunciation of the level of writing of Justice Thomas's opinions, terming them an "embarrassment." Today, The Los Angeles Times resorts to doubletalk almost as contemptible as the Senate Minority Leader's race—tinged slur.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has accepted tens of thousands of dollars worth of gifts since joining the high court, including $1,200 worth of tires, valuable historical items and a $5,000 personal check to help pay a relative's education expenses.
A couple of grafs later:
Thomas has reported accepting much more valuable gifts than his Supreme Court colleagues over the last six years, according to their disclosure forms on file at the court.
Much more valuable? read on to the very middle of the long article:
Since joining the court, Thomas reported accepting gifts valued at $47,745. He also reported other gifts without citing a dollar value, ranging from "small gifts and flowers" to free plane trips and accommodations from friends.
Ginsburg has received a number of large monetary awards since joining the court in 1993, which she reported giving to charity. In 1996 she received $100,000 from the philanthropic Kaul Foundation and distributed the money among 26 charities and nonprofit organizations, including law schools, women's organizations and theatrical companies.
How on earth does the Times reckon that a grand total of $47,745 is "much more valuable" than a single gift of $100,000? It must be the fact immediately appended, without so much as a comma, that she "distributed" the money to charities, including "women's organizations." Could any of these groups be pro—abortion groups like NARAL and NOW? Groups which appear before the Court, or which file amicus briefs? Evidently, the Times doesn't think such questions are worthy of consideration. Nor does it bother to examine the total charitable giving of Justice Thomas, although it did mention that he used a $5000 cash gift to help with a relative's education. But it didn't deduct this contribution from the total of his receipts, the way it immediately did with Ginsberg's enormous cash infusion. So the Times is using inconsistent standards in figuring up the sums it touts.
And, by the way, what is the grand total of gifts to Justice Ginsberg? The Times never bothers to total up Ruth Bader Ginsberg's receipts. Why not? Could it be that they dwarf Thomas's?
That the Los Angeles Times distorts the news and covers—up for ideological leftists is no surprise. Petterico today offers a year—end catalogue of the ridiculous performance of the Los Angeles Times in 2004. It is a sorry recordespcially when contrasted with the pretensions of Editor Jon Carroll.
But the really interesting question is why the left is so apoplectic at the prospect of Chief Justice Thomas. I think there are two separate reasons:
1. Appointing the first black Chief Justice cannot fail to impress African—American voters. It would be a Really Big Deal, and thus difficult for many Democrats to filibuster against. When a black man sits atop the justice system, it becomes a bit more difficult to prattle on about "white man's justice" meaning "just us."
The erosion of black political support from Democrats to the GOP is under way, and it is a cumulative function. Every year more blacks see through the rhetoric and catch on. A trend is beginning, and if it continues, the Democrats are dead.
George W. Bush has staffed the top levels of his administration with highly accomplished minorities. The contrast between a Condoleeza Rice and an Alexis Johnson (Clinton's black female cabinet member) is stark. Much more important than the racial bean—counting is the substance of the people appointed. I am no expert on community opinion among blacks, but I have to believe that the contrast between tokenism and Republican black achievers will be persuasive in the long run. Mothers want their daughters (and sons) to achieve the way Rice did, not the way Johnson did.
2. Justice Thomas is, despite Reid's slander, a very smart and personally charismatic individual. He would be a highly effective Chief Justice, possibly even more so than the brilliant Antonin Scalia could be. Leadership involves a lot more than brilliance, you see. The Chief Justice is responsible for the management of the Supreme Court. A large man with a booming voice, a man with a wonderful sense of humor, and a man with the willpower to overcome childhood poverty, discrimination, and the slings and arrows of elitist disdain, Chief Justice Thomas is the type of mensch who could quite possibly sway other Justices by addressing their hearts and souls, in addition to their intellects. One—on—one, he is impossible to dislike and hard to resist, when he turns on that smile of his. Some people have it, and some don't. Justice Thomas has it.
Imagine Justice Bryer, for example, dealing with Chief Justice Thomas for the remainder of his career, and discussing in chambers the impact of affirmative action on the self—esteem of its purported "beneficiairies." Imagine the Chief Justice talking from the heart about how it wounded him to regarded as a black, not as an equal competitor, but a charity case. How it took away his ability to take satisfaction in his achievements. Beyond intellect, the Supreme Court also deals with matters of values, feelings, and inclinations. It is in this sphere that a Chief Justice Thomas could be enormously influential on his Court.
That, I think, is why the liberal slime machine is kicking into overdrive.
Thomas Lifson is the editor and publisher of The American Thinker.