Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Virginia Thomas's Disingenuous Request for an Apology;
A Little Bit Weepy and a Little Bit Creepy

So it turns out that Virginia Thomas, wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, left a phone message asking Anita Hill for an apology for her testimony against Clarence Thomas during his confirmation hearings.

Here's the message, according to the NYT:
“Good morning Anita Hill, it’s Ginni Thomas. I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband.”
Perhaps there's a certain degree of sincerity in Ms. Thomas's request, but odds are it's largely calculated, and simply a way of calling Hill a liar...but with (to use the nauseating Reaganesque term) "plausible deniability."

Stripped of the hemming and hawing, Thomas is saying:
(a) You (Hill) should apologize
(b) You should explain why you did what you did to (not "with") my husband.
Of course (a) assumes that Hill owes an apology; given the charges in play, that means it assumes that Hill is lying.

And (b) presupposes that Hill did something to Justice Thomas (lied about him), and assumes than an explanation is owed (so that's just a continuation of the theme of (a)).

What's most likely here is that the request for an apology per se is just the tail; the dog is the presupposition/assumption.

Thomas might as well have simply called up Hill and called her a liar. That's roughly the effect of the call, and it would be vastly more honest and less loathsome to have been honest and forthright about it. This sort of pusillanimous, conniving attack is nauseating in the extreme. If you're going to open old wounds, stomp your foot and insist you are right, at least have the guts and the common decency to be honest about it--don't disguise your tantrum as a chirpy request for some kind of reconciliation.

Of course we have little reason to think that Hill lied. When it all happened, I didn't know what to believe. But after David Brock admitted to making it all up [that is, the charges against Hill]--aided and abetted in his creative writing by the right-wing noise machine--things became a lot clearer. If you haven't read Blinded by the Right, I recommend it--highly.

At last report--the last one I heard, anyway--Brock had still not contacted Hill personally to apologize for lying about her and smearing her good name. He did express deep and profound regret for his actions, and he acknowledged that he probably (" ") owed Hill the money he had made by smearing her...but he basically admitted to being too weak and selfish to give up the nice house in D.C. that he'd bought with the money. At least he is honest and intelligent enough to admit he owes it to her...though that doesn't mean that he's exempt from blame for not paying a debt that he himself acknowledges that he owes...

He's redeemed himself to some extent by being so honest and insistent about his guilt in this matter--that's not easy, and it's vastly more that we get from most in the sphere of the political. Perhaps he can redeem himself a bit more by stepping forward again now, and again proclaiming, loud and long and publicly, that he made it all up.

That, of course, does not show that Hill told the truth; but it eliminates almost all the reason to think that she lied. I don't want to give the impression that I think this is a toss-up; after long and careful consideration, I came to believe Hill and disbelieve C. Thomas. But that's not the topic here; the topic here is V. Thomas's bizarre, faux-heartfelt faux request for an apology--a "request" that comes off, I might say, as both a little bit weepy and a little bit creepy. Couching her renewed attacks on Hill behind teary presuppositions of victimhood, and concealing both behind a kind of insincere request for that's a weird, nasty bit of business right there. But V. Thomas's actions fit fairly nicely into the most plausible theory of the Hill-Thomas incident; and, in a way, these actions probably shouldn't come as all that much of a surprise.


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