Ding Dong, Frank Rich
Jude Wanniski
February 27, 2002


Memo To: Frank Rich, NYTimes
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Clarence, Anita & Clinton

Your long op-ed essay in the Saturday NYTimes, "Ding, Dong, the Cultural Witch Hunt Is Dead," is so brilliantly written, Frank, that I enjoyed it immensely for that reason alone. My problem with it is your characterization of the 1990s as a decade of Republican slime and sleaze – first, with the right-wing attacks on poor Anita Hill after she had been put upon by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and then by the right-wing attacks on poor Bill Clinton, who had been “stalked” by Monica Lewinsky in the Oval Office. I did enjoy your tweaking of right-wingers for their hypocrisy on various "social" and "moral" issues, but I do believe that the slime and sleaze involving Justice Thomas came from the Left, not the Right. You seem to be continuing that practice in your op-ed even while pronouncing the witch to be dead. I may never persuade you that Justice Thomas was telling the truth and Anita Hill was in fantasy land, and there was no "in-between." But you rest your entire case against him on the grounds that David Brock, the right-wing author turned left-wing author, has written a new book, Blinded by the Right, that withdraws his previous defense of Thomas.

You state: "Clarence Thomas's history of regularly renting pornography in the 1980s -- documented by The Wall Street Journal reporters Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson (Abramson is now the Washington bureau chief of the Times) in their book Strange Justice -- also stands virtually unchallenged, now that Brock has withdrawn his previous rebuttal of it." For goodness sakes, Frank, Mayer and Abramson never "documented" that Thomas rented porn movies and Brock told Talk magazine two years ago "a friend" told him he had. You are hitting below the belt here, knowing Justice Thomas is not going to take time out to prove to Frank Rich that he did not regularly rent porn. You know the only relevance concerns Hill's testimony before Senate Judiciary that when they both worked for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission he told her graphically about a porno movie he had watched, "Long Dong Silver." It was imperative to the Abramson/Mayer ladies that they show he had rented porn if they were to convict Thomas after he had survived the left-wing witch hunt in the Senate. You must have forgotten, if you had ever known in the first place, that in the 1991 Senate hearings, it was shown that when Ms. Hill was in law school, she almost certainly studied a legal case in the curriculum that involved a videotape entitled, "Long Dong Silver." Hmmm.

You know, Frank, I am no knee-jerk anything. The last thing I want to do is help lynch an innocent judge. After Hill FIRST testified, I was sure she was telling the truth and Thomas’s goose was cooked. But by the end of the hearings, it was obvious she had been hallucinating all along, as Brock is now. She never said he laid a hand on her, as Senator Robert Packwood had with his ladies. She never said he tried to take her out romantically. And the clincher: After all the smutty language was supposed to have taken place, after all the "harassment," they drove together on a trip to the University of Oklahoma. The pathetic senators never asked her why she agreed to this trip, especially since she was no longer his employee. In the end, I could only conclude she had been smitten with Thomas, which is why she followed him around, and that she was probably furious that he married a white lady when he could have had her. The national audience understood the implications of that business trip, which is why the polls showed that 2/3 of the people thought he was telling the truth, and only 1/3 believed her account. Brock, once outed as a gay man in the GOP, was fighting for his life, as he has been caught between the GOP right-wingers who denounced him for being nice to Hillary Clinton in his book about her, and the Democrats, who can never trust him. I suggested a year ago that the poor fellow, whom I have always liked personally, take up a new line of work.

The demonization of Thomas by the left was the slimiest political event I'd ever witnessed, easily surpassing Joe McCarthy's anti-Communist “crusade” on the right. I supported Judge Robert Bork in his unsuccessful effort to win Senate confirmation, but in the end praised the NYTimes’ Tony Lewis for having made the arguments that defeated him. The Anita Hill play by the left may have been legitimate when it began, as she had a story to tell, but after she told it, that should have been that. Maureen Dowd, an otherwise excellent NYTimes reporter, has been "Blinded by the Left" on this issue, to the point where she ridiculed Justice Thomas in January of last year, when the decision on the presidency was before the High Court. She wrote a column imagining what was going on in the minds of the Justices while they heard the arguments on Bush vs. Gore? She had Justice Thomas thinking he would like to get back to his chambers asap, to watch porn flicks. It was the most disgusting column I’d read in 50 years of reading the Times. I wrote at the time that I would not read Maureen's column for a year and only resumed a few weeks ago when the year was up. I'll continue reading your essays, of course, but in this one instance I think you got it backwards: Anita was stalking Clarence and Bill was stalking Monica. The hypocritical feminists who are still smearing Justice Thomas are the same ladies who said it was naughty of Bill to have sex with his intern in the Oval Office multiple times – and then have his minions spread the word she came on to him and he rejected her advances. Yuk.

The slime was on the Left, Frank, and I am afraid that wicked witch is not most sincerely dead.

* * * * *

f you have the time, here is the complete record of the Thomas hearings and Senate debate.


If you have time for one item from the hearings, here is the Senate floor speech of Sen. Arlen Specter [R-PA], who took on the assignment of getting to the bottom of things for the GOP minority. He concludes the weight of testimony is on the side of Thomas, and for some reason never even mentions the business trip they took together after all the harassment was alleged to have taken place – the fact that absolutely clinched his innocence in my mind. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.