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Cohen: Real Men Treat Their Subordinates Inappropriately

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Via Amanda Hess, self- (and by nobody else) described very funny guy Richard Cohen leaps to the defense of Clarence Thomas:

Every 20 years or so, some woman surfaces to accuse the now-Supreme Court justice of being a male chauvinist pig — to resurrect an old term from the tie-dyed era — but falls frustratingly short of making a case for true sexual harassment. Thomas stands nearly alone on the court in his shallowness of his scholarship and the narrowness of his compassion. But when it comes to his alleged sexual boorishness, he stands condemned of being a man.

I know lots of men who don’t repeatedly use inappropriate language and make unwanted sexual advances toward women who work for them, actually. But the key problem here is that Cohen doesn’t seem to understand one of the central issues, which is perjury. Thomas didn’t claim at the hearings that repeatedly asking out and using crude sexual language around his subordinate Anita Hill didn’t constitute sexual harassment. Rather, Thomas denied using such crude sexual language not only around Hill but around anyone. Lillian McEwen’s story is, therefore, very much relevant to whether or not Thomas was telling the truth, which — as Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson have already documented in great detail — he almost certainly wasn’t. And, unlike Cohen, I’m afraid I don’t regard perjury by a Supreme Court nominee as a trivial issue.

But, in fairness, it’s not as if Cohen has any self-interested reason for wanting to declare potential sexual harassment a non-issue. Oh, wait.

[X-Posted to TAPPED.]

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  • Malaclypse

    I can hardly wait for Donalde to weigh in on this.

  • If we were worried about perjury, wouldn’t Thomas’s claim that he had never considered the merits of Roe v. Wade be about as open-and-shut an example in the history Supreme Court nominations? Long Dong Silver may not know much constitutional law, but I doubt he’d be fooled by that one.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Yeah, and as several people said at the time if he was telling the truth it would be worse than if he was lying.

  • DrDick

    Worst. SCOTUS appointment. Ever. There are certainly grounds, but clearly no political will for impeachment.

    • That’s a pretty big talent pool, Worst Ever. I think we need some ground rules. Worst in the sense that he was the worst qualified? Worst in the sense that he did (or is doing) the most damage? Most Cynical Appointment I can get behind, but I think some further study is called for before we can say that Silent Clare is the Worst Ever.

    • Malaclypse

      I’d agrue that the man who wrote that blacks “beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” was the Worst Appointment Ever.

      Now, if you want to rephrase as Worst Appointment Since Rehnquist, you have a good case…

      • Scott Lemieux

        I dunno, Taney (amazingly enough) wasn’t even the worst justice on the Taney Court. Relative to his time, McReynokds has to be way up there.

        • Warren Terra

          Yeah, I was thinking that McReynolds would be a contender. Still, Thomas has a combination of poor qualifications, mendacity, radical views, closed-mindedness, and (really quite importantly) youth that makes him a pretty strong candidate at least in the modern era. That last in particular may give him the long tenure to really rack up his awfulness score.

          • BigHank53

            Once we have a couple more years’ worth of data on Roberts and Alito, we may have to readjust everyone’s awfulness scores. Curves may be required.

  • Spokane Moderate

    Even if we grant Cohen’s ridiculous assertion that Thomas was just “being a man,” it’s worth remembering that this man was heading the damn EEOC at the time.

    • Stag Party Palin

      while Cohen had helped create a “hostile working environment” and had engaged in “inappropriate behavior” he was not guilty of “sexual harassment,” which I guess explains why he’s splitting pubic hairs here.

      FTFY Adam Serwer

      • Warren Terra

        FTFY, or FTFW?
        I thought the (bowdlerized) former was Forget The Forgettable Yankees, the (similarly bowdlerized) latter For The Fantastic Win.

        • Spokane Moderate

          Wasn’t familiar with that internet tradition either; I’m hoping it means Fix That For You.

          • Spokane Moderate

            Grr… typos.

            “Fixed” indeed.

    • Warren Terra

      What was that line about Joe Kennedy SR, something to the effect that if you were going to put some guy in charge of regulating finance, you should pick the biggest crook Wall Street had to offer, they knew the tricks? Clarence Thomas was probably just following the same playbook, conducting research into workplace misconduct and discrimination. Because he cares about the EEOC’s function so much.

  • Bart

    What I remember from those hearings was that Thomas was shepherded through that mess by that paragon of evangelical smarmy virtue, John Danforth.

  • LosGatosCA

    Justice Thomas is just a weak minded mediocrity’s mediocrity. Not truly evil, because like Bush II he’s not competent to do original damage. He’s reliable force for seconding evil from others, however.

    • Warren Terra

      His habit of silence might give you that impression, and certainly he seems to have little ability to sway others on the court to join his evil, and little vocal presence to inspire evil in others. But if you look at his opinions, he has in fact broken with Scalia on a few occasions – always when his reactionary and absolutist tendencies took him to a point that managed to be a bridge too far even for Scalia.

      • Scott Lemieux

        I’ve written this several times, but Warren Terra is correct. Thomas plainly and demonstrably is not Scalia’s sockpuppet, and his jurisprudence is in many respects more interesting (if even more reactionary.)

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