Angry and Not Liberal

It took a few days, but now the New York Times is up and running with a counter-attack on Clarence Thomas’s new memoir. In an unsigned editorial and in columns by Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd, the Times unloads on Thomas for being “angry” and not being liberal, thus supporting Thomas’s argument that his conservatism, rather than his alleged harassment of Anita Hill, was behind the campaign to destroy his reputation.

As a reporter, Dowd covered the Thomas hearings, and her daily front-page reports caused one observer to complain that the Times was guilty of purveying feminist propaganda on its news pages. Through Dowd, among others, we learned that Thomas’s lack of a history of harassing women was not supportive of his innocence, at least that was the gospel proclaimed by the feminist lawyers and scholars.

The hearings gave the “women’s studies” mavens a perfect teaching moment to disabuse us of our foolish assumptions. For example, we were told that it was perfectly natural for an abused woman, a black Yale Law School graduate, to follow her abuser from job to job and continue to call him at home, even after she was no longer working for him. And we were also told that there was no such thing as “consensual sex” when the man was the boss and the woman the subordinate. These ideas became dogma and the basis of sexual harassment laws passed by Congress and the states.

But then a few years later, along came Bill Clinton, who signed the first federal sexual harassment bill, and we were told the truths learned from the Thomas-Hill scandal were now inoperative. Suddenly, we were urged to believe that the lowly intern had harassed the “most powerful man in the world.” We were also told to forget about Clinton’s long history of hitting on women and Paula Jones’s claim that Clinton lured her to a hotel room and “took it out.” Also unimportant were Kathleen Willey’s story that Clinton groped her in a room off of the Oval Office, which inspired Gloria Steinem to establish, in a New York Times op-ed, the “one grope rule.” And finally, there was the claim of a perfectly credible woman named Juanita Broderick that Clinton had raped her when he was Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas.

Such burdens haven’t stopped the counter-attackers, but have made them less than convincing.

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