Conservative Victimology, Thomas Edition

Last week's New Yorker had an article by Jeffrey Toobin about Clarence and Virginia Thomas, which discusses how Mrs. Thomas has developed a career as a conservative activist advocating on many of the issues that come before the court on which her husband sits:

Still, the controversy over Ginni's work has already taken a toll on Justice Thomas, as he made clear in an emotional appearance at a Federalist Society event at the University of Virginia School of Law, in February. "This is about our country, and one of the things I want to do is I want to go to my grave knowing that I gave everything I have to trying to get it right. And all I ask of you all, especially those of you who are still in school, is you give it your best," Thomas said, in remarks first reported by Politico. "I watch my bride who, in doing the same things, when she started her organization, she gives it 24/7 every day, in defense of liberty. You know, and maybe that's why we're equally young and we love being with each other because we love the same things; we believe in the same things. So, with my wife and the people around me what I see unreinforced is that we are focused on defending liberty. So, I admire her and I love her for that because it keeps me going." Then, concluding his speech, he said, "My bride is with me, Virginia Thomas, and some of you may know her. But the reason that I specifically bring it up: there is a price to pay today for standing in defense of your Constitution."

Yes, weep for poor Ginni Thomas and her brave sacrifices for liberty!

Much that has been reported over the years about how Clarence Thomas paints a picture of him as a man consumed by resentment of people he thinks have mistreated or condescended to him. Despite the fact that, as Toobin explains, every piece of evidence since his confirmation supports the conclusion that Anita Hill was telling the truth -- and had that been known so conclusively at the time, he would never have been confirmed -- he still sees those confirmation hearings as a story of his victimization. That's despite the fact that at the conclusion of that episode, he, you know, took a seat on the Supreme Court.

While I suppose it isn't too surprising that Thomas' view of himself as an eternal victim would extend to his wife, it's still pretty remarkable. What, exactly, is the "price" Ginni Thomas has paid "for standing in defense of your Constitution"? Well, some have argued that her political work gives her husband a conflict of interest. That criticism must be hard to take. Of course, if you didn't want people to criticize you for your political activities, maybe you shouldn't do things like start a Tea Party group.

Some of the most revered figures in the conservative pantheon -- Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush -- seldom if ever succumbed to the temptation to whine about their own victimhood. Others -- most recently Sarah Palin, and obviously Clarence Thomas -- can't seem to stop themselves. This has become something that many conservatives dislike about Palin, but it hasn't made any of them think twice about their affection for Thomas. But he's not running for anything, so they know he doesn't need to win anyone over.

One final thing that's notable about Clarence Thomas: He complains constantly about the "elites," particularly those who come from the Ivy League (he refuses to speak at any Ivy League universities, among other things), and their supposed condescension toward the ordinary people with whom he grew up. So in response, he has fashioned a jurisprudence that relentlessly advances the interests of those with money and power at the expense of ordinary people. Way to stick it to 'em.

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