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Maureen Dowd on Thomas:

First, let me acknowledge that I've ready maybe three Dowd columns, ever, so if there is some secret to her columns that I just am not privy to, forgive me. (For example, as a lad it was only after reading many months of Russell Baker's columns and finally giving up on them that I learned that the column was supposed to be humorous.) Dowd writes, satirically, in Thomas's voice: "I used to have grave reservations about working at white institutions, subject to the whims of white superiors. But when Poppy's whim was to crown his son — one of those privileged Yale legacy types I always resented — I had to repay The Man for putting me on the court even though I was neither qualified nor honest. ... But having the power to carjack the presidency and control the fate of the country did give me that old X-rated tingle."

"Repay The Man?" "Carjack the presidency?" Not "qualified"? "X-rated tingle"? I find this about as funny as a David Duke speech, and for the same reasons.

UPDATE: At "Best of the Web," James Taranto writes: "Dowd's joke can be summed up in a few words. Q: What do Clarence Thomas and O.J. Simpson have in common? A: They're both black!"

ugh:
if there is some secret to her columns that I just am not privy to, forgive me

Sorry, David, but that's pretty much all there is. She is neither insightful nor a good writer.
10.10.2007 1:20am
TerrencePhilip:
She forgot to work "nappy-headed" in there somewhere.

I don't know where Justice Thomas gets the crazy idea that he is subject to racial stereotyping because of his ideas.
10.10.2007 1:21am
Laura S.:
A lie repeated often enough becomes truth. Case in point is Bush v. Gore. We can fault the decision on many grounds: it's a repudiation of Federalism, but what is absolutely untrue is the idea that the conservatives participated in a 5-4 coup.

Ah alas, those liberal judges had their hand too.

Not to mention that after the statewide recount, we learned that Gore could only have won IF the method used for the recount had been one he'd repudiated in court as unfair.

carjacked indeed!
10.10.2007 1:30am
Anon21:
Quite apart from the column, which seems like a bad one, the mere fact that Bush v. Gore may not have changed the ultimate outcome of the 2000 election is not the only criterion useful in determining whether or not the Justices acted improperly. If the Court's majority believed that it had the power to influence the outcome, and if one or more Justices voted (based on that belief) not their convictions, but rather their preferred candidate, then it's still worthy of recognition as one of the lowest depths to which the judiciary has sunk in recent memory.
10.10.2007 1:45am
Kazinski:
Thankfully there is a guide to reading Maureen Dowd, that Josh Chafetz wrote. I think this column is a derived from a post Josh originaly wrote for Oxblog. Even knowing the first law would have been helpful before reading the column:

THE FIRST IMMUTABLE LAW OF DOWD: The first and most important rule is what might be termed the People magazine principle: All political phenomena can be reduced to caricatures of the personalities involved. Any reference to policy concerns or even to old-fashioned politicking is, like, so passé. And, of course, with every caricature goes a nickname.
10.10.2007 1:50am
Mike& (mail):
Liberals are allowed to hate black people.

I guess you missed that memo.
10.10.2007 1:55am
Jiffy:
That David Duke really cracks me up too!
10.10.2007 2:00am
ANDKEN (mail) (www):
I think that Thomas REALLY shows that race is more complicated matter in America than it looks. It´s very difficult to see someone talking about him without mentioning that he is black. No one sees the individual Thomas, only the race. Liberals attacks him because he is a black conservative, while conservatives defends him on the same basis.

The problem? He is not a brilliant jurist(With the exception of the dissent on Raich, where are his brilliant opinions that we expect from a Supreme Court justice?) and he had a poorer curriculum than most justices. But again, the fact that everyone talks more about his race than his competence, or worse, that people(and himself) needs the Race Card to defend him shows that race is not a settled matter on America.
10.10.2007 2:05am
Laura S.:

If the Court's majority believed that it had the power to influence the outcome, and if one or more Justices voted (based on that belief) not their convictions, but rather their preferred candidate, then it's still worthy of recognition as one of the lowest depths to which the judiciary has sunk in recent memory.

Yes, the Florida Supreme Court was quite out-of-hand, going to any length possible to allow Gore to win.
10.10.2007 2:16am
Daryl Herbert (www):
Barack Obama is trying to carjack the Democratic nomination.

Would the NYT print that??? Doubtful!
10.10.2007 2:17am
grackle (mail):
The truly interesting thing about Maureen Dowd is that, seemingly, everyone hates her, left, right and in the middle. From that alone, I think she must be on to something. This is not a comment on her take on Justice Thomas specifically, but that over time she unifies the most amazing collection of folks. Is it possible that she is only commenting on the irony of a powerful man whining that he still don't get no respect?

You must have been a sweet, if earnest child, David, to fret about Russell Baker's intent.
10.10.2007 2:24am
volokh groupie:

The truly interesting thing about Maureen Dowd is that, seemingly, everyone hates her, left, right and in the middle. From that alone, I think she must be on to something.



You know who else everyone hates?

Hitler


/i keed
10.10.2007 2:31am
Brian G (mail) (www):
Read Maureen Dowd's column, written rigth after the U of Michigan decision. Although it was not her point, she makes one of the best cases I have heard against affirmative action, the way she insults Thomas for getting his admission to Yales and his Court seat because he is black.

Of course, since she is a reliable leftist, no one gets upset when she points out that someone is an affirmative action hire and not really worthy of their position.

Read it here.
10.10.2007 2:36am
Daryl Herbert (www):
Brian G.: Read Maureen Dowd's column, written rigth after the U of Michigan decision. Although it was not her point, she makes one of the best cases I have heard against affirmative action, the way she insults Thomas for getting his admission to Yales and his Court seat because he is black.

I think that's why leftists like spending government money and using government power so much. They get to give people things, and then tell them:
The only reason you got this is because we gave it to you. We own you. Don't you dare cross us.
Of course, the conservative version of this is to throw people (black and white) in jail.
You're in jail now, boy. We'll let you out, but you had better behave! Don't you dare cross us.
I guess that's why I'm a libertarian . . .
10.10.2007 3:29am
Jerry F:
Maureen Dowd is (one of) the Ann Coulter of the left, except that Coulter, for all of her offensive statements, at least makes a point of avoiding downright racist comments, and Coulter would never be able to get regular column in the WSJ.

Grackle, who on the left hates Dowd so much? I am sure moderate Democrats (are there any left?) may not be foud of her, but the farther left you go, the more you can expect someone to be perfectly comfortable with her rhetoric.
10.10.2007 3:49am
Nate F (www):
In my more liberal days, I was left enough to be a College Democrat, and I still knew basically no one who liked Maureen Dowd. She's too abrasive and has too little to say.
10.10.2007 3:59am
BT:
I had forgotten how teenlike MODO was since she was hidden behind Timeselect. She must appeal to somone. Wonder if she ever found a man? Maybe a guy from BOGLO, let us hope.
10.10.2007 6:00am
Groucho Marism:
Wonder if she ever found a man?

Didn't she go out with Michael Douglas? Wikipedia is apparently above mentioning her tabloid trysts, sadly. I've always thought of her as incredibly incredibly hot, but too bad about her writing, it's awful.
10.10.2007 6:55am
Robbins Mitchell (mail):
MoDo belongs to the same school of hit piece journalism that the late Molly Ivins did...Ms Ivins continually referred to GW as 'shrub'...virtually every time her column concerned him.....evidently thinking that her readers found that screamingly hilarious each time she used it...MoDo's motivation for her columns isn't about being truthful or accurate or even fair minded....it's all about showing her readers how witty and brilliant she is....yet she wonders why no fair minded man wants her as his wife
10.10.2007 6:57am
MDJD2B (mail):
FWIW, when Bill Clinton was president, she frequently atacke him and his wife in the same vicious, ad hominem manner.
10.10.2007 6:59am
Swede:
Dowd still writes?

And people still read her?

Huh, I did not know that.
10.10.2007 8:24am
Clyde (mail) (www):
I miss TimesSelect and the cordon sanitaire it dropped over the Times' columnists. It was so nice not hearing from Ms. Dowd. I wonder if there might be some way to persuade the Times to bring it back?
10.10.2007 8:45am
Mo MoDo (mail) (www):
The only way it could have been more offensive would be if it were written in an Amos and Andy voice. Other bloggers have found the casual racism bothersome.
10.10.2007 8:46am
Bottomfish (mail):
At the NY Times, an anti-Thomas editorial and two columnists raging, and a two part space for Anita HIll to reply. The man is considered to be "bitter" -- well, he certainly has a talent for making the NY Times bitter. By now, the whole business seems almost comical.
10.10.2007 9:02am
Bpbatista (mail):
Dowd is a nappy headed liberal racist ho.

But then we all knew that before she wrote this column.
10.10.2007 10:42am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Wonder if she ever found a man?

Didn't she go out with Michael Douglas? Wikipedia is apparently above mentioning her tabloid trysts, sadly. I've always thought of her as incredibly incredibly hot, but too bad about her writing, it's awful.
MoDo used to date Aaron Sorkin; Christine Lahti's character in Studio 60 was MoDo.
10.10.2007 10:58am
M. Simon (mail) (www):
ANDKEN,

He was pretty good on Kelo too.

If there is on fault I'd claim for the other eight it would be:

Too smart by half.
10.10.2007 11:20am
M. Simon (mail) (www):
If I were to characterize Thomas' jurisprudence it would be:

You can't fool me because I'm too stupid.

His lack of "brilliance" is an asset. He asserts the law is for everyman, not just lawyers.

I think he is correct.
10.10.2007 11:24am
submandave (mail) (www):
OK, I'm not a lawyer, but as I read it, Bush v. Gore did not say "Bush is the winner," it said "conduct the election in accordance with the laws established by the state legislature and after you do that stop." Sounds principled enough to me.
10.10.2007 11:28am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I don't think that you can really compare MoDo to Ivins. Molly was writing to Texas leftists, and while GWB was governor there, I can attest that plenty of them thought the "shrub" joke was hilarious, year after year after year (and, indeed, I know several who still use that nickname for him). But Ivins could write, if you could wade through her BDS. IMHO, Dowd really can't.
10.10.2007 11:34am
Steve:
Other than "carjack," which was patently offensive, I see little for the PC police to get worked up over. There is, indeed, a non-trivial case that Clarence Thomas was unqualified to be nominated to the Supreme Court, although in hindsight it's clear that he has as much in the way of legal chops as anyone. At the time, he had a resume that would have made Harriet Miers look like an impressive candidate. Mind you, as a liberal, I happen to think Justice Thomas helps strengthen the case for affirmative action, but somehow we don't all see it that way.

"X-rated tingle" is quite obviously a reference to the Justice's well-documented taste for pornography. You may think this is funny or you may not (I think it's a typical Dowd cheap shot, myself), but it's certainly not racist.
10.10.2007 11:34am
catullus (mail):
Maureen Dowd is unworthy of further keystrokes.
10.10.2007 11:43am
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):
"I had forgotten how teenlike MODO was since she was hidden behind Timeselect"

nothing like a precocious middle-aged woman... "BabyBushie widjum widjum widjummmm...."

Ack.

showing off:

attended a wedding last week where Justice Thomas was a guest- a fine fellow, confident, very much at ease with himself.
10.10.2007 11:43am
Poncherello:
Steve, I guess having D.C. Court of Appeals judge on one's resume is not that impressive.
10.10.2007 11:53am
Randy R. (mail):
Dowd hates the Clintons and has written about their crassness quite often.

So she isn't the 'reliable lefty'' people here say she is. Imagine Ann Coulter saying anything bad about the Bushes!
10.10.2007 11:53am
rarango (mail):
You are missing the big picture: no writer for the NYT can be racist. Mutually exclusive categories. This would only be considered racist if it appeared in the Washington Times or NY Post.
10.10.2007 11:53am
rarango (mail):
w/respect to Molly Ivins (RIP) and MoDo, while I didnt like Molly's politics, she had a dynamite sense of humor and I loved reading her columns. Perhaps Ms. Dowd does, but if so, I have missed it.
10.10.2007 11:56am
R:
Why use the word "carjack"? Can you carjack anything other than a car?
10.10.2007 12:04pm
Dan Weber (www):
I think the last time I read Dowd was when she did his article on Howard Dean's wife that was just... well, downright mean.

There's probably a good story there, and a report about the Dean's marriage would've been interesting, since Mrs. Dean would rather be treating someone's hemorrhoids than being with her husband while he's running for President of the United States.

But Dowd's article made me feel pity for Mrs. Dean, like watching the football jock pound on some poor scrawny freshman.

I could probably find it in the NYTimes archive, and see how my memory matches up with reality. . .
10.10.2007 12:09pm
Steve:
Steve, I guess having D.C. Court of Appeals judge on one's resume is not that impressive.

For a year? No, I don't see that as particularly meaningful on its own. I mean, if they had given Harriet Miers a Court of Appeals seat for a year prior to her nomination to the Supreme Court, a course of action that some people actually suggested, her nomination still would have been a pretty sad joke.
10.10.2007 12:09pm
JorgXMcKie (mail):
Maybe I'm misremembering, but where is the link to "the Justice's well-documented taste for pornography?" I remember some charges, but 'well-documented'? As far as pornography itself goes, I believe it was a previous court that ruled in favor of freedom of speech rights for pornography but not for obscenity, so I'm kinda unsure exactly what Thomas would be guilty of even if he had a "well-documented taste for pornography."
10.10.2007 12:15pm
The Ghost of Xmas Past (mail):
"Maureen Dowd is (one of) the Ann Coulter of the left, except that Coulter, for all of her offensive statements, at least makes a point of avoiding downright racist comments, and Coulter would never be able to get regular column in the WSJ."


LOL... what a world.
10.10.2007 12:16pm
Anon21:
submandave: It might have been principled coming from a different set of Justices. As it was, Justices on both sides broke with their previous positions (primarily on Equal Protection doctrine) in patterns that sufficiently matched up with their apparent or assumed partisan sympathies.

Laura S: That is, of course, not a defense of the SCOTUS decision in Bush v. Gore so much as it is a deflection. The fact that the Florida Supreme Court may have mishandled the case first does not excuse the U.S. Supreme Court's later decision to do the same; and in any event, I think we can and should hold federal judges (and particularly Supreme Court Justices) to higher standards than we can practically hold state judges.
10.10.2007 12:19pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Many people worked tirelessly to secure the rightful place of Blacks in American society. Now the Blacks owe it to them to stay there.
10.10.2007 12:20pm
eric (mail):
Steve

Souter was on a federal circuit for two months.

Your comparison of Miers reveals your bias. Compare Souter's resume to Thomas' and then compare Miers. Thomas is as qualified as Souter (unless you consider the New Hampshire Supreme Court a huge qualification for the highest federal court in the land). Miers, not so much.
10.10.2007 12:29pm
JD07 (mail):
"Now the Blacks owe it to them to stay there"? Repulsive and condescending.
10.10.2007 12:30pm
Dan Weber (www):
For what it's worth, I kind of wish we could have a non-lawyer or two on the Supreme Court.

Ms. Miers appeared to not really want the job that bad, though. Kinda like Fred Thompson. ;)
10.10.2007 12:41pm
Cameron (mail):
There's a difference between being a leftist and being a radical. My politics are avowedly lefty, but my advocacy of those politics is linguistically and emotionally restrained, at least when I'm trying do something other than preach to the choir of my fellow lefties who are probably more interested in their chai soy lattes than what I have to say (I kid, I kid!).

My undergrad mentor argued that you have to map political persuasion along two axes. I am bastardizing his ideas but, essentially, the idea is that an individual's political persuasion is one axis, and that same individual's political temperament is the other. For people like Dowd and Coulter their arguable political convictions are just props for their more dominant intemperate behavior.

I know for a fact that I'm not the only person of my persuasion who found this column embarrassing, offensive, and patently racist (my mother and I spoke at length about it after her sister had forwarded the piece to her). I think there are very few people who think as highly of Ms. Dowd's "gifts" as she does. The sense of "humor" in her writing is, at least, able to be filtered through one's own internal microphone to adjust for pitch and timing. To hear her actually speak her "ideas" is akin to fingernails on a chalkboard. That said, someone (other than my aunt) must be reading her. What a shame.

People of principle will never find a safe place to have thoughtful, meaningful debates as long as shrill, for-a-book-deal-I'll-say-anythings hold sway in the idealogical marketplace of American media. But as long as politics are treated as sport and entertainment, I doubt anything will change.
10.10.2007 12:45pm
PRIM:
Maureen ("absolute moral authority") Dowd had her heyday a decade ago, when she actually showed the honesty to concede that Bill Clinton truly was a pervert. Since then, she has helped circle the wagons consistently with her leftist friends. Her most pathetic effort was not Cindy Sheehan, however. Instead, it was her intimation in 2003 of a close friendship with Michael Kelly, a writer of true stature whose views could not be more distant from her own. Having died in Iraq covering our brave troops, he was in no position to protest.
10.10.2007 12:51pm
Steve:
Maybe I'm misremembering, but where is the link to "the Justice's well-documented taste for pornography?" I remember some charges, but 'well-documented'?

If you really feel it's a topic worth exploring, which I hope you don't, you could check out the recent biography Supreme Discomfort, among others.

As far as pornography itself goes, I believe it was a previous court that ruled in favor of freedom of speech rights for pornography but not for obscenity, so I'm kinda unsure exactly what Thomas would be guilty of even if he had a "well-documented taste for pornography."

He's not "guilty" of anything. We're all Internet users here, the odds suggest that many of us have a taste for porn as well. I was simply noting that there's a factual basis for what I still see as a cheap shot by Dowd.

Thomas is as qualified as Souter (unless you consider the New Hampshire Supreme Court a huge qualification for the highest federal court in the land).

Yeah, if you ignore the fact that Souter spent over a decade on his state's highest court, his resume does look a little thin. I guess I just disagree with you that state supreme court experience is irrelevant. Maura Corrigan seems to be a favorite of many conservatives whenever a Supreme Court vacancy comes around, and I certainly don't see her as unqualified.

I wasn't joking when I said, above, that I thought Justice Thomas helped make an excellent case for affirmative action. Affirmative action, both formal and informal, gave him a number of opportunities, and he's taken advantage of those opportunities to show that he's every bit as suited to be a Supreme Court Justice as his colleagues are. If Clarence Thomas hadn't been black, there's every reason to think his resume between law school and the Supreme Court could have been much more impressive; thus I question the extent to which it can be held against him.

Consider the example of William Rehnquist and Sandra Day O'Connor, who graduated together at the top of their class at Stanford. Rehnquist got a prestigious Supreme Court clerkship after graduation, and went on to a variety of prestigious jobs in the Nixon Administration. O'Connor, on the other hand, famously got only one job offer after graduation - to work as a legal secretary - and ended up working as a county attorney and serving in the state legislature. Her experience as a judge was limited to four years in a state trial court and two years in an intermediate appellate court.

That's not to say that Justice O'Connor will go down as the greatest Supreme Court Justice in history, but simply to note that you can't hold it against her that she had a lesser resume than Rehnquist, considering the biases she had to deal with in the legal profession at the time. Had she been born a man, she could very well have had his resume or better. And none of this is to argue that we should run around looking for unqualified minorities to appoint to the Supreme Court in hopes that they'll be good; I just think people should recognize that when a minority candidate doesn't have as impressive a background as a white male candidate who had all the advantages, the lack of a resume may not be all their fault, and it may not indicate a lack of intellectual chops.
10.10.2007 12:52pm
Joe Kowalski (mail):
If I recall there was an interview that Sandra Day O'Connor gave after she retired which she commented on Bush V Gore. And while she said that she felt that they came to the right decision, she also said that the time frame involved was so compressed and the process was so rushed that the reasoning behind the decision and the quality of the opinions greatly suffered, and thus the integrity of the court was damaged. I tend to agree with her. Had the court had more time, the whole process would have looked a lot better for the court.
10.10.2007 12:57pm
neurodoc:
MDJD2B: "We're the State. Unless you want to embark upon long, expensive and unpredictable litigation, we can do whatever we want."

I remember those columns well. Enjoyed them greatly. I wonder if we were back in those times, when Clinton was fighting impeachment, rather than the present, would Dowd be less reviled here. And call it team loyalty if you will, but William Safire, no Lefty, seemed genuinely fond of his officemate.
10.10.2007 1:02pm
Virginian:

Imagine Ann Coulter saying anything bad about the Bushes!


Did you read any of Ann Coulter's columns when Miers was nominated? She does not hesitate to let loose on Republicans when they deserve it.
10.10.2007 1:04pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
I'm glad the Dowd column is being discussed here, because the NYT seldom prints criticism of its opeds in the Letters column. I couldn't believe that Dowd has not let her bitterness about the 2000 election go. Every vote in Florida was counted -- twice. The only process halted was the one of holding the cards up to the light and trying to divine what an insufficient punch might mean, with no guarantee that the process was consistent among tabulators. The motivating force was nothing more than Democratic arrogance and resentment that the people had not selected their candidate. Their attitude that the votes would be recounted till Gore won was ridiculous.

The Supreme Court's ending this charade was reasonable under the circumstances, especially because the tabulation process the Democrats wanted ended up taking months. And, although I'm sure that, once Clinton's and Gore's term ended, Speaker Hastert as next-in-line would have done a creditable job as President, the interim nature of his presidency would have made the U.S. look weak.
10.10.2007 1:31pm
PLR:
I echo rarango's sentiments on Ivins, she was hilarious and even funnier in person than in print. Dowd is just a shallow, annoying media personality like Nancy Grace.
10.10.2007 1:49pm
Bpbatista (mail):
Remember that part of Bush v. Gore was 7-2 with Souter and Breyer in the majority.
10.10.2007 1:54pm
jonah gelbach:
db

i couldn't agree more. modo's column was overtly racist in more than one place. her usual shtick in these types of pieces (meaning ones where she pretends to be inside the head of some politician) is like a written-word version of caricature. sometimes it's funny, precisely because of the obvious exaggeration involved (she's particularly good at lampooning vp cheney). sometimes it falls flat. this time it never should have been done. she ought to be ashamed; when i read it, i was aghast. i'm glad you made this point.

i have a related question. it's a sincere one, as i really don't know the answer: did you write about bill o'reilly's various racist comments related to his dinner with sharpton in harlem? if you did, i'd love to see the link. if not, i'm curious why not, as the comments were widely publicized and came from someone who is arguably (maybe even almost certainly) more influential on the right than modo is on the left (at least some liberals i know think her column is tired and well past its use, even before this incident).

i don't think you have an obligation to write about all racist incidents. but you recently suggested to me that i might not be "listening hard enough" to all those cases of anti-conservative/-libertarian bias in econ departments. so i'm curious as to how hard you listen to, and how loudly you denounce, bigoted talk from the right. i'm not being sarcastic when i say that i will be delighted to find out that your outrage is equal-opportunity. (mine definitely is.)

j
10.10.2007 2:03pm
NaG (mail):
If Justice Thomas is "bitter" for not dropping the whole Anita Hill thing by now, then I wonder if Democrats will be dropping the whole Bush v. Gore business in the next few years. Methinks they'll still be "bitter."
10.10.2007 2:10pm
ANDKEN (mail) (www):
Thomas was chosen BECAUSE he is black. It´s somekind of affirmative action.

Let´s remember that what´s decided the fate of Robert Bork were the Southern Democrats, somekind conservative politicians that time depended on the black vote to be elected. Most of these democrats that refused Bork(That was accused of racial insensitivity) endorsed Thomas. Had at that time Chuck Robb, Wyche Fowler and Richard Shelby refused to endorse Thomas and his confirmation would be rejected.

Souter may have a poor resumé, but Thomas had a even poorer one. And senators at that time were impressed with Souter, but not with Thomas. And Thomas divisive personality is not what the Court needs. He is a rightwing version of Brennan or Abe Fortas. But since he is black, no one criticizes him. And everyone that does is labeled as a racist. The right knows to use the race card so well as the left.

And yes, he shows the dangers of affirmative action.
10.10.2007 2:18pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
Dowd is a polemicist, which is why conservatives like David take great offense at her remarks. By complaining about her on this blog, David is really just preaching to the converted (for the most part) as many readers are like him.

But, I agree that some of Dowd's remarks --especially "The Man" comment but maybe the "carjack" remark-- were offensive. While one could argue that the "carjack" reference is race neutral and that any reader who sees it as related to African Americans is revealing more about his own biases than those of Dowd, I do think "The Man" is a term associated with African Americans and for her to use it in this fashion is to make Thomas engage in "black speak" that is inappropriate (unless you know he uses in his casual speach).

I think the "not qualified" and "X-rated tingle" remarks are fair game for a columnist. While I think Thomas has shown himself to be qualified since he assumed the Supreme Court, he had only been on the DC Circuit for one year, and had no prior judicial experience before taking that post, when he was nominated. I would have judged him "qualified" but not "well qualified" which is what the ABA did (I think), but I can see the argument that he was not qualified when he was appointed.

I don't think one of the poster's comparison of Thomas to Souter is apt. Souter was on the New Hampshire Supreme Court for 10 years, and his opinions on that court showed that he was well qualified. I find it mystifying that someone would discount that experience.

By the way, even though I am fairly liberal, I bought Thomas' book, and find it very interesting. I think he writes pretty well, and his life experience is fascinating.
10.10.2007 2:31pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Thomas was chosen BECAUSE he is black. It´s somekind of affirmative action.

George H.W. Bush picked Thomas to replace Marshall the same way George W. Bush picked Roberts to replace Rehnquist. The chief difference was that Roberts was on the D.C. Court of Appeals longer than Thomas was. Replacing Marshall with a non-black would have seemed a step backwards.
10.10.2007 2:37pm
John Herbison (mail):
It's not just that Clarence Thomas was nominated to the Supreme Court because he is black. It's also that he was nominated to succeed a civil rights giant whose shoes Uncle Thomas was not fit to shine, that the de facto quota of one black member has precluded consideration of mainstream blacks for appointment, and Thomas's reprehesible invocation of "lynching" at his confirmation hearing.

Thurgood Marshall was a leading Supreme Court advocate during the middle third of the twentieth century--the field general of the litigation component of the movement for civil rights and racial equality. He subsequently served as a judge of the United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, and as Solicitor General--the third ranking position at the Department of Justice--at the time of his nomination to the Supreme Court.

Since Justice Marshall's appointment, seven presidents have submitted twenty-one nominees for forteen Supreme Court vacancies. For thirteen of those vacancies and twenty of those nominees, no black person appears to have received serious, "short list" consideration. In other words, blacks need not have applied to succeed to any seat not vacated by the resignation or death of a white justice.

Clarence Thomas had moved up through the Republican ranks by being a toady, first to John Danforth and then to George Herbert Walker Bush. Because of affirmative action, Judge Thomas was nominated to succeed a civil rights giant, whose briefcase Thomas would have been unworthy to tote. When his confirmation was in doubt, however, Clarence Uncle Thomas was quick to play the race card--invoking the spectre of lynching--when all he was accused of was trash talking to another member of his own race and boasting of the size of his appendage, and all he had at risk was the denial of a promotion within the judicial ranks. A "high-tech lynching", indeed!

Abe Fortas' elevation to Chief Justice was filibustered; Fortas was not lynched. Clement Haynesworth, G. Harold Carswell and Robert Bork lost confirmation votes in the Senate. They were not lynched. Douglas Ginsburg and Harriet Meirs withdrew their names from consideration prior to Senate action; neither was lynched.

As a justice, Clarence Thomas has been mediocre. As a man, he is quite loathsome.
10.10.2007 2:38pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

As a justice, Clarence Thomas has been mediocre.

"So what if he is mediocre? There are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they? We can't have all Brandeises, Cardozos, and Frankfurters and stuff like that there Sen. Hruska regarding Carswell's nomination.
10.10.2007 2:44pm
Mo MoDo (mail) (www):
Most everything in the Dowd column has a basis in fact: the Scotch and Drambuie (aka a Rusty Nail), the x-rated porn fixation, Marvin Gaye music. It's the context that is uncomfortable. She conflates him with OJ to paint him as an amoral monster.

Character assassination is one of Dowd's stock in trade. She kills with a stiletto.
10.10.2007 2:45pm
eric (mail):

since he is black, no one criticizes him.


Yeah, noone ever criticizes Thomas. All one has to do is look at the all out assault on Souter, Breyer, and Ginsburg to realize that Thomas, the one who shalt not be criticized gets it so easy because he is black.

Saying that the most criticized justice is never criticized is not a good way to gain credibility.


As far as Souter's qualifications, I do not think the job of State Supreme Court Justice has much to do with U.S. Supreme Court Justice. State SC's do not see a lot of federal constitutional issues. State constitution's vary greatly in content. State court's are courts of general jurisdiction and spend lots of time on common law issues and abuse of discretion type decisions.

I do not care if Senators are impressed or not. Senators are, as a whole, stupid.
10.10.2007 2:51pm
Paul Allen:

Thomas... no one criticizes him.

Are you serious? Please remove the wax from your ears and the scales from your eyes. Thomas is the subject of frequent criticism and attack.
10.10.2007 2:56pm
ejo:
"the Justice's well-documented taste for pornography?-I think the poster was referring to Justice Marshall but probably thinks all blacks look alike.
10.10.2007 3:06pm
Smokey:
Steve:
"There is, indeed, a non-trivial case that Clarence Thomas was unqualified to be nominated to the Supreme Court..."
I was gonna ask you for some of those non-trivial facts that would make Clarence Thomas unqualified [as a non-lawyer who learns a lot from these threads, I really am interested in seeing if I'm missing something]. Clarence Thomas seems to meet the qualifications required by the Constitution; are there other qualifications I'm not aware of?

But before I was able to post the question above, you stated that Thomas is...
"...every bit as suited to be a Supreme Court Justice as his colleagues are."
So... which is it? Is Clarence Thomas qualified to be a Justice, or not? And if not, why not? What are those non-trivial facts?

Finally, ANDKEN states:
"But since he [Thomas] is black, no one criticizes him."
Huh? Have you been reading this thread? Did you watch the Senate's confirmation hearing? Did you read the MoDo column here? Or anything for the past 15+ years? Clarence Thomas has been subjected to non-stop criticism from the Left ever since the day he was appointed -- criticism which, if it had come from conservatives, would have been pointed out by the same Left along with their incessant and hypocritical screams of "Racists!!"
10.10.2007 3:21pm
Smokey:
For instance, John Herbison:
"It's not just that Clarence Thomas was nominated to the Supreme Court because he is black. It's also that he was nominated to succeed a civil rights giant whose shoes Uncle Thomas was not fit to shine..."
See? Libs get a free pass to be racists. For them, it's A-OK.
10.10.2007 3:31pm
ejo:
a civil rights giant that spent his last decade on the bench asleep?
10.10.2007 3:43pm
ANDKEN (mail) (www):
"Are you serious? Please remove the wax from your ears and the scales from your eyes. Thomas is the subject of frequent criticism and attack."

Sorry, I´m was not clear enough: no one criticizes him for his *qualifications*. Most of the criticism that he receives is political. And as this thread shows, people needs to use race to defend him.

And as I said, everyone that criticizes him is racist. What I´m pointing out is that Americans they can´t manage to have a , uh, normal relation with black justices.

I think that Obama shows that too. Few people dare to criticizes him, and the left is quick to use the race card to defend him.

And yes, I think that Souter is a mediocre judge. But, by the way, with the exception of the dissent on Raich, where is a good and memorable opinion that Thomas wrote?
10.10.2007 3:44pm
ejo:
let's see, if you use words like "Uncle Tom" in your criticism of Thomas, it's not bringing race into the equation? Most folks don't call mere criticism of him racist-but, when you descend into calling him a watermelon eating tom, don't you think that goes beyond criticism of his opinions?
10.10.2007 4:05pm
M. Watkins:
The humor isn't inside her columns it comes from the knowledge that someone actually pays her to write a column. But then all that humor is lost when you find out that it's Arthur Sulzbergr jr paying her to write them.

I picture snot coming out of MoDo's nose from her guffawing evertime she types "Poppy".
10.10.2007 4:17pm
John Herbison (mail):
Clarence Thomas has exploited race for his entire career, most shamelessly with his fatuous claim that his confirmation hearing had become a lynching. It is hardly racist to call him out on it. Indeed, to consider Thomas without regard his racial toadying would border on intellectual dishonesty. He got to where he is, first by being John Danforth's House Negro, then by playing the same role for the first President Bush.

An honest person who owed such a personal debt to the Bush family would have recused himself in Bush v. Gore rather than joining in with the rest of the wardheelers who anointed the doofus.
10.10.2007 4:48pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
"But, by the way, with the exception of the dissent on Raich, where is a good and memorable opinion that Thomas wrote?"

I read Supreme Court opinions for a living, and I'd have a hard time coming up with "memorable opinions" that are also good (i.e., not memorable for their atrocious reasoning, hypocrisy, inconsistency, emotionalism etc.) by any Justice, save maybe Scalia. What is a "memorable" Ruth Ginsburg opinion? Breyer opinion?
10.10.2007 5:05pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Clarence Thomas has exploited race for his entire career, most shamelessly with his fatuous claim that his confirmation hearing had become a lynching.

What relevance to Thomas's fitness for the Supreme Court did a couple of off-hand remarks Thomas might have made a decade previously have? This dredging up and blowing up out of all proportion of something no normal person would have thought twice about was just another way to keep a black man down, to intimidate him and keep him from seeking higher office, just as if someone had knotted a noose and attached it to his office door.
10.10.2007 5:10pm
volokh groupie:
Randy R.

I bet coulter has said plenty of bad stuff about the bush's regarding immigration and suck
10.10.2007 5:10pm
Bpbatista (mail):
"Clarence Thomas has exploited race for his entire career, most shamelessly with his fatuous claim that his confirmation hearing had become a lynching."

Assuming for the sake of argument that your premise is correct, how does this distinguish him from Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton or Julian Bond? Based on that, Libs should love him.
10.10.2007 5:16pm
ejo:
JH-the nation's racial arbiter. thank god he's out there to set us straight, using the simple facts and not just engaging in polemics. I might almost think that JH is a closet conservative lampooning Thomas' white manhattan "down with the hood" critics-will the real JH please stand up?
10.10.2007 5:18pm
Bruce:
David, I assume the reason you didn't get the fact that Russell's columns were intended to be humorous is because you were too young. If that wasn't the case, I wouldn't go advertising it.

I mean, c'mon, the "MX Pentagon" was clearly not serious.
10.10.2007 5:32pm
Eliza:
I picture snot coming out of MoDo's nose from her guffawing evertime she types "Poppy".

What's hilarious is Modo's often claimed that she and "Poppy" have a special relationship—one smoldering with sexual tension. According to her they're like two leads in a Forties' romantic comedy: he's the posh patrician bored with his wife, she's the sexy Irish serving wench he craves.
10.10.2007 5:41pm
Justin Levine:
Anon21:

Re: Bush v. Gore -

"If the Court's majority believed that it had the power to influence the outcome, and if one or more Justices voted (based on that belief) not their convictions, but rather their preferred [outcome], then it's still worthy of recognition as one of the lowest depths to which the judiciary has sunk in recent memory."

Huh?? This is typical behavior that the Court engages in every day on every issue. What Justice doesn't believe that it has the power to influence an outcome if they can convince a majority of fellow Justices? And what issue's decision ISN'T influenced by their own "prefered outcome"? This is what goes on all the time, regardless of which Justices happen to be in the majority at any given time. To say the Bush v. Gore was somehow different exposes a great amount of naivate.
10.10.2007 5:49pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
Jorg,

If Thomas has a taste for pornography, then all I can say is that I now have something in common with the man other than we each have law degrees.
10.10.2007 6:04pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Bruce, I was young, but they also weren't funny.
10.10.2007 6:52pm
BT:
I wonder how long it has been since a MoDo column has been discussed at this length on this blog. It seems that since the paper curtain of TimeSelect went up she and the other darlings of the NYT editorial page have disappeared into the ether as it were. Now that it is down, she's back. Prior to TimeSelect, she got a great deal of attention on blogs of various persuasion. I imagine that will happen again. Her shtick seems not to have aged well this time around though.
10.10.2007 7:16pm
Mitch (mail) (www):
She always struck me as Every Guy's Ex-Girlfriend. The eye-rolling, the whining, the sarcasm, the sneering at what she can't be bothered knowing about... It's all there.
10.10.2007 8:49pm
Truth Seeker:
In other words, blacks need not have applied to succeed to any seat not vacated by the resignation or death of a white justice.

Let's see, blacks make up 13% of the US population and 11% of the Supreme Court. Are you implying that you think there are so many more qualified black potential justices that maybe they should make up 22% or 33% of the court? We still need room for a Hispanic and an Asian.
10.10.2007 10:07pm
CJS (mail):
jonah gelbach,

O'Reilly isn't a conservative -- he's a blustery, loud-mouthed populist. Ann Coulter, who someone described above as a right-wing equivalent of MoDo, is the better comparison - and she is more serious than he is, because she's much smarter.
10.11.2007 1:43am
John Herbison (mail):
Had the United States Senate failed to confirm Clarence Thomas to sit on the Supreme Court, he would have remained a judge of the Court of Appeals until his death or resignation. Name one other "lynching" victim of whom that is true.

For that matter, name any person who was lynched for being accused of talking trash to a black woman and making (possibly) exaggerated claims about the size of his johnson.

Now that Mr. Thomas has trashed Ms. Hill in a forum outside the comfy confines of witness imunity and judicial immunity, here's hoping she drags his lying, "lynched" ass before a jury for libel. Under the single publication rule, she now has her choice of any judicial district in the nation.
10.11.2007 2:51am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Under the single publication rule, she now has her choice of any judicial district in the nation.
I hope you've got a fallback career, because your lawyering leaves something to be desired; that's not at all what the single publication rule says.

And people who want to pretend to care about civil rights -- particularly white people -- should probably avoid racist spewing, even if the target is a black conservative.
10.11.2007 4:40am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Randy R.:

“Imagine Ann Coulter saying anything bad about the Bushes!”


How about: “Maybe he [GWB] is an idiot.” Or perhaps

“At least President Clinton only allowed his wife to choose the attorney general.”

Then there is: “First, Bush has no right to say "Trust me." He was elected to represent the American people, not to be dictator for eight years.”

Source: Ann Coulter’s own archive of her columns.
10.11.2007 8:23am
RattlerGator (mail) (www):
And, if JH thinks Anita Hill has some other legal claim against Justice Thomas I think he's further advertising his already well-demonstrated lack of ability to fairly discuss anything remotely related to Clarence Thomas.

What's the deal, man? Do his negroid features scare you or something? This "good massa" mentality of white liberals (especially lawyers) is something to behold.
10.11.2007 8:50am
ronnie dobbs (mail):

Had the United States Senate failed to confirm Clarence Thomas to sit on the Supreme Court, he would have remained a judge of the Court of Appeals until his death or resignation. Name one other "lynching" victim of whom that is true.


Obviously, Mr. Herbison is unfamiliar with the concept of metaphor (at least when it suits his purposes).

At the time Justice Thomas made the "high-tech lynching" remark, I found it a bit too hyperbolic, but in hindsight, it was perfectly apt. A lynching is more than an act of homicide--it is also an act of intimidation, i.e., "This is what we'll do to you too." Thus, Justice Thomas' point was that the televised smear campaign was nothing more than an attempt to both kill his reputation and intimidate any like-minded black judges/political nominees from pursuing a similar career path.
10.11.2007 1:02pm
theobromophile (www):

An honest person who owed such a personal debt to the Bush family would have recused himself in Bush v. Gore rather than joining in with the rest of the wardheelers who anointed the doofus.

Well, those who owed debts to the Clinton/Gore presidency should have recused themselves, too, correct?


Had the United States Senate failed to confirm Clarence Thomas to sit on the Supreme Court, he would have remained a judge of the Court of Appeals until his death or resignation. Name one other "lynching" victim of whom that is true.

Aside from Robert Bork?
10.12.2007 1:17am