“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” — Napoleon Bonaparte
For twenty-five years, Clarence Thomas has been billionaire Harlan Crow’s kept man and pocket Justice. This plutocrat has showered the public servant with luxury cruises, high-end vacations, liquor, and sweetmeats. Crow defends his relationship by saying they are just friends. Although, their friendship is one-sided, as there is no record of Thomas picking up a tab.
The news of this cozy domestic arrangement has come as a shock and no surprise. Another conservative playing footsie with big money is a ‘dog bites man’ story. Regardless, Thomas's behavior smacks of influence-peddling, and he should not be allowed to skate.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez thinks Congress should take action. She addressed Clarence Thomas’s venality and spoke about his possible impeachment on the Lever Time podcast, saying,
“I think this is an emergency. I think that this is a crisis. I think we’ve had a crisis for some time on the Supreme Court.”
She adds: “If we decide strategically that the actual author of those articles [of impeachment] and who introduces them may not be me. That’s fine. I will support impeachment. But I just think that if no one’s going to introduce it, I would certainly be open to doing so.”
AOC is a cut above the usual politician. She thinks of the ramifications of her actions and demands strategic thinking. It is easy in the heat of passion to go off half-cocked. Miss the target. And in doing so, suffer the consequences. Ocasio-Cortez knows this and, as a tactician, is looking for the most effective course.
In this case, that course is to abstain from an impeachment push.
Do not get me wrong, Thomas is a disgrace to the bench. Legally, he makes things up. His jurisprudence springs from the tortured place where he battles his demons. A massive chip on his shoulder informs his philosophy. That is not my opinion. It is his — he talks about it at length in his autobiography, “My Grandfather’s Son.”
Thomas is the Trump of the judicial branch. A thin-skinned vulgarian whose reason is blinded by roiling anger at the injustices he has suffered. His rage against the establishment was honed to a red-hot edge by the revelations in his confirmation hearings that he was a sexual predator, fond of porn. He called it a “high-tech lynching.” And he has been bent on his revenge from the bench.
He wants to strip Americans of reproductive freedoms — not just choice but also the right to contraception. He would deny many the right to marry the one they love. He has promoted profit over people. And he has dismissed the glaring conflict of interest inherent in his marriage.
He is a horrible man, lacking the sober-minded stature to sit on the highest court in the land. However, the Democrats should not try to impeach him. Not because he does not deserve it. But because it is lousy politics.
Some people say we should always do what is right regardless of the consequences. I wish we could. But that is not the way the world works. Liberals are waging war to defeat a conservative army on a crusade to strip most Americans of their inalienable rights. The liberal goal has to be to win the war — not every battle. The road to perdition is paved with pyrrhic victories.
Democrats should dismiss talk of impeachment. Not because it is the wrong thing to do. But because it is unattainable. A GOP House majority would defeat any attempt. And even if the Democrats could find some Cheneys and Kinzingers to break ranks, the necessary 2/3rds of senators would never coalesce to convict.
Paradoxically a move to impeach would give Republicans the strategic high ground. Trump's two impeachment trials — doomed to fail — bound the MAGA base to him so firmly that they would now vote for him if he were on death row.
More importantly, those attempted impeachments did not push independents to the liberal cause. The Democrats got 81 million votes in 2020 because of Trump’s bigotry, stupidity, incompetence, toxic narcissism, and embrace of autocracy — not because they impeached him the first time. In 2022, the Democrats outperformed expectations because of the Republican overreach on abortion and insurrection denial — not because they impeached him again.
The best Democratic strategy is to keep asking Republicans what they intend to do about Thomas. Not that the GOP will do anything. But as long as they do nothing, they will be forced to explain why. It is an effective strategy. Thomas is helping by issuing a pathetic defense of his actions
Republicans think they have their messaging down pat. The election results of the past five years show they are wrong. The right wing’s cynical nihilism has turned off centrist Americans.
Republicans are desperate to paint Trump’s indictment as political. The public is not buying it. Or even if they see a political element, they agree that the prosecutor should have charged him. In large part because Manhattan DA, Alvin Bragg, is pursuing a legal path. He has presented the case to a grand jury, not a political jury. Trump’s rights are constitutionally protected. And he has the presumption of innocence.
On the other hand, impeachment is a political proceeding. It takes place entirely in Congress. It is impossible to sell it as a dispassionate look at the behavior of politically appointed Justice. And if the Democrats pursue that goal, there is no upside.
The Republicans are like the scorpion that stings the frog. They are destroying themselves, and they cannot help it. Take the expulsion of two Black legislators in Tennessee. No one would have ever heard of the eloquent state Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, if Cameron Sexton and his pack of racist morons had not voted for that drastic measure.
Now middle America looks at those Republicans and wonders what the hell is the matter with them. Let the GOP keep making those kinds of mistakes. Let Jim Jordan, James Comer, and the rest of the Republican House keep up their Hunter Biden and Twitter follies. It will be their Benghazi failure on steroids.
A move to impeach Thomas would give Republicans a needed distraction. The Democrats must not do it. Let AOC use her considerable rhetorical skills, along with Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Jamie Raskin, and the rest of the Democratic caucus, to harry and terrorize the Republicans, much as Washington did to the British in the Revolutionary War.
Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has already promised hearings on Thomas's venality. He can elicit the same testimony as an impeachment push would — but without the downside. And, unlike the House investigations, there is evidence of rule-breaking on the part of the subject.
Mahatma Gandhi subdued the British Empire not by tackling them head-on but by showing how impotent its supposed power was. And he has a heartening message. “Remember that all through history, there have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they seem invincible. But in the end, they always fall. Always.”