Monday, October 03, 2005

Harriet the Thomas

Now we know who Clarence Thomas might have picked to star in his version of The Vagina Monologues. Harriet the Thomas emerges out of the same stealthy background bearing the same politically non-suspect credentials (dittohead loyalty being the hallmark of Bushist conservatism) as he did thirteen years ago, minus the pubes on soda pop but most certainly not minus such ready-for-prime-time lies as Thomas’ allegation that he never discussed Roe v. Wade in law school or anywhere else at the time of its birth. Harriet Miers won’t have to lie of course. She can do what Sandra Day O’Connor taught every nominee to do—look down at a sheet of paper and say something to the effect of I can’t predict how I’ll vote on this or that. And she’ll be ready to face down a squad of senators firing the same sort of reliable blanks that ensured John Roberts’ elevation, as Bush’s second choice, to Chief Justice (Clarence Thomas was his first until Katrina intervened).

Time to recycle lines form the Times editorial on Clarence Thomas, on September 22, 1991, six days before the Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked, 7-7, on his nomination, itself a vote that pre-dated by a few more days the leak to Nina Totenberg on the Anita Hill affair: “[T]wo weeks of Senate Judiciary Committee hearings have displayed a candidate with the slimmest qualifications of any recent Court nominee. His testimony disclosed little in the way of coherent judicial philosophy. If anything, it deepens anxiety over the future of rights the Court has long protected. […] Indeed, the case for the nominee is so thin that some proponents are reduced to arguing, ‘Well, he's better than the next likely nominee.’ The historical answer to that is one nominee at a time. After President Nixon failed to win confirmation for Clement Haynsworth and then G. Harrold Carswell, he came up with Justice Harry Blackmun. Other proponents contend that, having run the hearing gantlet successfully, Judge Thomas has earned confirmation; the committee exposed no smoking gun or other disqualification. True, but since when is ‘not bad’ the right standard? This is the Supreme Court of the United States; the standard should be ‘how excellent.’” Harriet Miers, an excellent choice? Why not go the full monty and nominate Jill Clayburgh? Same age, more experience behind a bench, however fictional. (Remember "First Monday in October"?)
But it would have been too earnest a joke. The craven in George Bush likes his jokes a touch cruel, like dangling a rattler from the ceiling of a movie theater, filming the audience’s reaction, and projecting
that back on the big screen while he laughs from somewhere else. Harriet Miers is no rattler of course, bless her honest soul. Unlike the inveterate politician and ambitious jurist, she is who she is, most likely a reliable Roberts without the intellect. But she’s being dangled, and the cameras are rolling. What a show this will be. What a projection of regression foretold.