Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

I said in a previous post that I would come back to Sen. Joe Biden. I would like to do so now in relation to Clarence Thomas, who has been the subject of my last two postings.

When Thomas went through his confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court, Biden was chairing the Judiciary Committee. Prior to the hearings, he seemed very courteous, promising Thomas that he would make him feel comfortable by giving him some easy questions at first, so he could relax in the hearings. Thomas expected that to be the case, since Biden had promised. When the hearings began, however, he immediately hit Thomas with a supposed quote from a speech Thomas had given that seemed to indicate that he [Thomas] was in favor of restricting property rights. Thomas wrote in his autobiography, “Instead of the softball questions he’d promised to ask, he threw a beanball straight at my head.”

Thomas was beside himself trying to recall how he ever could have said such a thing. During a break, the lawyers helping him searched for that speech, found it, and showed him the wording. Biden had taken everything out of context, ignoring the two sentences that immediately followed that quote, which made it quite clear that Thomas did not agree with restricting property rights. That’s when he first realized what he was dealing with, and that some people will do whatever is necessary to twist your words and besmirch your reputation. His opinion of Biden sank. He now understood “the dangers of trusting the hypocrites who ‘pretend to be your friend’ while secretly planning to do you wrong. Now I knew I’d met one of them: Senator Biden’s smooth, insincere promises that he would treat me fairly were nothing but talk.”

Later, Biden called Thomas to tell him he had decided to vote against his confirmation. “Judge, I know you don’t believe me,” Biden said, but he then promised he would be Thomas’s “biggest defender” regarding his character. Thomas’s response in his autobiography says it all:

He was right about one thing: I didn’t believe him. Neither did Virginia [Thomas’s wife]. As he reassured me of his goodwill, she grabbed a spoon from the silverware drawer, opened her mouth wide, stuck out her tongue as far as she could, and pretended to gag herself.

This same Sen. Biden, of course, will be speaking this evening at the Democratic National Convention, accepting the nomination of his party as the vice-presidential candidate. If you listen to him, the stories Thomas relates should not be far from your mind.