With Judge Bork, one of the claims was that he was against civil rights for minorities. Yet the people who made that charge could not find a single example where someone from a minority had ever lost a civil rights case in Bork's court.
Robert Bork had been on the same side as the NAACP in numerous cases when he was Solicitor General. But the facts did not matter. Stopping Judge Bork from being on the Supreme Court did.
Charges against Clarence Thomas were even dirtier -- and just as unsubstantiated. The same Congressional critics who demanded that the Senate "get to the bottom of this" in response to sexual charges refused to vote for a subpoena that could have brought out facts about the credibility of the witness who made the charges.
Getting to the bottom of this was the last thing they wanted. They wanted to keep Judge Thomas off the Supreme Court. That they failed was due primarily to his own defiant defense and to the women who had once worked for him who came to testify for him.
The character assassins have perfected their art over the years -- the dramatic demonstrations staged for the media, the damning charges, the strident rhetoric, the sly innuendo. The question is whether the administration that nominates people for judicial appointments is similarly skilled and similarly dedicated to defending them in the arena of public opinion.
The Reagan administration was completely blindsided by the attack on Judge Bork and never managed to get an effective response off the ground. Clarence Thomas and his former employees saved his nomination without much help from the administration that nominated him.
Is there any game plan in the White House or the Justice Department to get the truth out about Justice Janice Rogers Brown or will the lies have a field day? If there is a plan, there is still no sign of it at this eleventh hour.