National Public Radio was one of the first out of the box greeting Clarence Thomas's memoir, "My Grandfather's Son." Nina Totenberg acknowledged that it was, "in some ways a beautifully written book" but went on to declare it "a book of complete bitterness and rage." The Washington Post's front page announced that Thomas had "settled scores" in his "angry" book. And Washington Post columnist (as well as Charen pal) Ruth Marcus writes of Thomas's "blast furnace" anger.
Imagine that. He hasn't gotten over it. Totenberg, for those who may have forgotten, was the journalist who first reported that Anita Hill had made allegations against Thomas (though at the time, Hill had not agreed to go public). And she was a prominent Hill enthusiast during the contretemps.
Totenberg affects surprise that Thomas is angry? It would require a masochist not to be angry. Imagine that your spotless reputation had been thoroughly trashed before a worldwide audience. Imagine further that everything you had attempted to accomplish in your career was undermined in two weeks by ideological opponents ready to do anything to keep someone with your heterodox views down. It is my experience that people often become enraged when they read even small inaccuracies about themselves in the newspapers. Contemplate enduring a campaign of vilification. How many years is it supposed to take to get over something like that? Is Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky thing?
Actually, speaking of President Clinton, the brouhaha over Thomas and what he did or did not say to Hill now seems almost quaint in retrospect. Even if we assume (and I do not) that the worst of Hill's allegations were true, they do not stack up to the kind of brutish behavior attributed to Bill Clinton by Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky, Kathleen Willey and Juanita Broaddrick. But the very same people who adjudged Thomas one of the lowest creatures on Earth, found Clinton's behavior a private matter of no consequence with no public implications.
Finally, no one who has had the pleasure of meeting Clarence Thomas would recognize him from the public descriptions that have greeted this book. His legendary laugh is sonorous and infectious. His manner is dignified yet approachable. Those who know him are aware of his passionate efforts to help other blacks -- and of his equally passionate refusal to advertise this. The Anita Hill business is a tiny part of this man's story -- a story that makes for very rewarding reading.