Pre-Emptive Sliming

Clarence Thomas

At this point in the 2022 election cycle Democrats are mostly bracing for impact.

By that I mean that their focus is not on retaining their slender majority in the House, but on “battlefield prep” to delegitimize the Republicans’ probable victory and cripple their legislative agenda.  Their thinking, in other words, is that if you can’t beat ‘em, at least hurt ‘em so bad their victory won’t mean much.

They’ve been doing this for a while now. 

Only half their hysteria over the voting reforms being carried out around the nation is intended to persuade minority voters that Republicans are a party of white supremacists just itching to bring back the Democratic Jim Crow laws, if not the actual institution of slavery (that Democrats fought a war to defend).  The other half is intended to make the 2022 results disputable.  To taint them.  To render the forthcoming Republican congress illegitimate.

I’ll print and eat this post if I’m wrong, but mark my words: the party that spent three years screaming about the way the Russians had hacked the 2016 election, then a year swearing up and down that the 2020 election had been the most secure election in American history, will at some point in November 2022 begin wailing about how Republicans rigged the election by disenfranchising black Americans, brown Americans, women of color, homosexuals, bisexuals, Muslims, the disabled, and whatever other identity group they can dream up. It’s not much of a wager: they’ve been setting the table for those arguments for months already.

If you follow American coverage of politics closely, you’ll notice an increasing number of stories in which Democrats appear to be throwing tantrums over issues that hardly seem to merit the attention.  Stories that, in some cases, don’t even seem to be the kind of thing Democrats ordinarily care about.

One such story making the rounds right now is the story of an elderly white Republican woman’s private text messages.

The woman in question (if indeed she’s a woman: I’m no biologist) is Ginni Thomas.

Most people know her about as well as they know Joanna Hare.

Which is to say, up until the past week or so you probably had no idea either of them existed.

Ginni Thomas is the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; Joanna Hare is the wife of Justice Stephen Breyer.

The Democrats have chosen to go after Ginni Thomas as a way of going after her husband, in the apparent hope of forcing him to recuse himself from any case involving the January 6 riot or a contested presidential election in 2024—or at least to render his voice tainted or illegitimate.

Unsurprisingly, Berlingske’s Mikkel Danielsen is on it!

A scandal has hit the US Supreme Court: The judge’s wife sent bizarre ideas in secret text messages

Mikkel Danielsen,, Mar 29

Before we examine one more word of Danielsen’s lickspittle partisan hackery, let’s dwell for a moment on a single word in the headline: the word “secret.”  In Danish the word is hemmelige.  There’s no other common translation for the word: Danish, like English, has different words for private, personal, and the like.

It’s worth asking why that word appears in the headline.

There’s nothing in the article, or any of the American coverage I’ve seen of the story, to suggest that Thomas’s text messages were communicated via some nefarious secret messaging service available only to members in good standing of the vast right-wing conspiracy.

Maybe she used Signal, or Telegram, or Viber, or any other messaging app that encrypts messages—but in that case the correct word would be “encrypted” (in Danish krypteret), not “secret.”  And there’s nothing particularly nefarious or unusual about these apps. You don’t need a security clearance to download or use them.

But there is something nefarious about the phrase “secret text messages.”

It suggests that Thomas wasn’t just peppering people with text messages: it suggests she was involved in some dark and unseemly activity that she was desperate to conceal from public view.

It makes my own use of Signal feel much more exciting.  I’m not sending Herself reminders to pick up milk on the way home from work: I’m sending her secret text messages.

Besides, aren’t even regular text messages “secret” in the sense that only the sender and recipient are ever supposed to see them?

As long as we’re picking at the headline, let’s examine another word: “bizarre.”  (In Danish, bizarre.)

Had she been texting non-sequiturs or utter nonsense (“the gladiolas are singing in German again”), then it would be appropriate to characterize her texts as bizarre.  But that’s not what she was doing.  She was communicating in perfectly appropriate language about her own perfectly rational beliefs.  Disagreement with her beliefs doesn’t make them bizarre in any objective sense.  Bizarre to the editors at Berlingske, sure, and undoubtedly bizarre to the partisan lickspittle hack Mikkel Danielsen, but this is a news item, not an opinion piece, and Ginni Thomas’s belief that the election had been rigged was shared by literally millions of like-minded Americans.

So here’s the headline if we take those hot-button adjectives out: “A scandal has hit the US Supreme Court: the judge’s wife sent ideas in text messages.”

Suddenly you can see why those adjectives were included.

“Ginni Thomas flirted with Q,” the lede informs us. “In the days after the presidential election, she texted Donald Trump’s chief of staff discussing how Donald Trump could stay in power. Now the question is whether one can trust her husband—America’s longest-serving Supreme Court justice.”

Ah: the question is whether one can trust Clarence Thomas because of stuff his wife texted.

(Given this fascination with familial relations, another question Berlingske might want to examine is whether one can trust Joe Biden because of stuff his son emailed.  But that’s a question Danish readers won’t be asked to contemplate, because it might reflect badly on Democrats: after all, there’s corroborating evidence that Hunter Biden was acting as a proxy for his father, whereas Ginni Thomas never suggested her texts were on behalf of her husband.)

It seems to me, from the texts provided in the article, that Ginni Thomas was among the more excitable type of conservative Americans who genuinely believed the 2020 election had been stolen and that radical countermeasures were necessitated by circumstances.

I’m willing to allow that her views would seem extreme and even unhinged to the garden variety Democrat.

But the garden variety Democrat embraces a lot of views that I myself consider extreme and unhinged.  For example, the idea that it’s impossible to define the word “woman,” or that Donald Trump was a Russian agent, or that the Senate is “undemocratic,” or that America was founded exclusively in order to preserve the institution of slavery.  Those are all mainstream Democratic beliefs.

But the idea that a justice of the Supreme Court can’t be trusted because his wife espouses views considered unpalatable to the left strikes me as more than a little strained.

What’s more, the content of her messages should surprise no one familiar with her activism. A photo caption in the article notes that Ginni Thomas “is a household name on the American right wing,” and that she “has been a conservative activist for decades.”

Danielsen himself notes in the body of his article that Ginni Thomas “has for decades pursued a career as a conservative activist and lobbyist.”  And he goes on:

She had close ties to the Bush administration, and she made huge donations to the populist Tea Party movement.

It was tolerated, because Supreme Court justices should not, in principle, be held accountable for their spouses’ attitudes, careers, or decisions in life.

However, Ginni Thomas has crossed a red line with her text messages, several law professors tell The New York Times.

Just once I’d like to see Danielsen quoting something from an outlet that isn’t one of the Democratic Party’s house organs.

She was directly involved in the Trump camp’s juridical attempt to steal power from Joe Biden.

She became part of Donald Trump’s desperate attempt to convince the US courts—and ultimately Clarence Thomas and the Supreme Court—that the election should be reversed or overturned.

In the days after the election, she sent several text messages to Mark Meadows, urging him to make lawyer and conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell the “leader and face” of Trump’s team of lawyers.

“Sidney and her team seem to be inundated with evidence of election fraud,” she wrote 16 days after the election—November 19, 2020—to Mark Meadows.

On the same day, Sidney Powell held a famous press conference with Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. They presented completely baseless conspiracy theories about hacked election machines and a Venezuelan conspiracy, while black hair dye drove down the face of a sweaty Rudy Giuliani.

Look at all the charged language: to steal power; a desperate attempt; conspiracy theorist; completely baseless conspiracy theories; and of course, the completely extraneous details about Rudy Giulani’s physical appearance.  (The article even includes a photograph of Giuliani looking sweaty and miserable as the hair dye runs down his face.)

It’s still strange to me—even bizarre—that Republicans who believed the 2020 election was rigged by Democrats are routinely portrayed as a lunatic fringe of conspiracy theorists, while those who believe that Russia manipulated the results of the 2016 election on behalf of and in coordination with Donald Trump are portrayed as sane and sober.

I won’t defend the antics of Sidney Powell. She talked the talk but couldn’t walk the walk, and will probably be remembered as the face that couldn’t launch a Kraken.

But was it any crazier for a Republican partisan to believe her than it was for a Democratic partisan to believe Michael Avenatti (for example)?

Danielsen himself quoted Avenatti in a December 2018 article without referring to him as a conspiracy theorist, even though the article was about a judge ordering Avenatti’s client, the stripper and porn star Stormy Daniels, to reimburse Donald Trump for the legal expenses he incurred defending himself from a Stormy Daniels lawsuit thrown out by the courts.  That article contains no colorful adjectives at all.  Curious, that.

The rest of the article concerns itself with Clarence Thomas’s not having voted along with the rest of the court to reject Donald Trump’s assertion of executive privilege to prevent sharing documents with the “Jan. 6 Committee”—and Democratic insinuations that his vote was cast out of fear that his wife’s texts would eventually be made public.

Danielsen quotes one Democrat going beyond mere insinuation:

“His behavior in the Supreme Court seems increasingly corrupt,” Ron Wyden, a Democratic senator from Oregon, told The New York Times.

Funny how Danielsen never plucks out a Republican senator from Texas or Florida being quoted in the New York Post as background for a story about a Democrat.

Doesn’t matter.  Danielsen isn’t a journalist: he’s a slack-jawed partisan yokel, just passing along the latest talking points of his American Democratic overlords.

But here’s where it gets interesting.

According to one man identified by the L.A. Times as a “judicial ethics scholar,” and by the New York Times as “one of the nation’s foremost legal-ethics experts,” none of this actually matters.  According to that man, one Stephen Gillers, “We are long past the day when a wife’s opinions are assumed to be the same as her husband’s.”

I have to admit, I wouldn’t expect a defense of Clarence and Ginni Thomas from a professor quoted by the New York Times, but—

No, wait, wait!  I’ve made a horrible mistake!  That was Gillers writing back in 2013 that a liberal judge should not have to recuse himself from a case involving the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) even though his liberal wife was the executive director of the ACLU for Southern California.

It obviously does not apply to a conservative judge with a conservative wife.  No, in that case, as Gillers now says: “ ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ is not an acceptable strategy for the Thomases’ marriage.  Both have crossed a line and deserve no benefit of the doubt.”

That’s the kind of juicy tidbit Danielsen could have gotten his oily hands on if he were allowed to read the Wall Street Journal.  It’s from an opinion article published yesterday, entitled “The Hypocritical Attack on Justice Clarence Thomas.”

The piece, by Jason L. Riley, is worth reading in its entirety, but it’s behind a paywall.  So allow me to share just one more paragraph:

“The facts are clear here,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar told ABC News on Sunday. “You have the wife of a sitting Supreme Court justice advocating for an insurrection.” No, those aren’t the facts, unless the senator knows something that the rest of us don’t. There has been no evidence made public that Mrs. Thomas called for violence or had anything to do with the ransacking of the Capitol by Trump supporters. Lumping her in with those who did is a smear. All we know is that she urged Mr. Meadows to “stand firm” against what she believed was an election “heist.” If a case comes before the court that involves Mrs. Thomas or her activities, Justice Thomas can make a decision about recusal at that time.

Just so.

Democrats are going to go after Clarence Thomas every chance they get, and not because they’re Democrats and he’s a black man and they can’t help themselves—or not just because they’re Democrats and he’s a black man—but because he happens to be a rock-ribbed constitutionalist with very little patience for the left’s situationalist approach to absolutely everything.

And the Democratic playbook is always the same: if you can’t beat ‘em, slime ‘em.

And if you can’t slime ‘em, slime their wives.

So now the obvious question: when are Mikkel Danielsen and Berlingske going to tell Danish about the bizarre ideas in the secret emails found on Hunter Biden’s laptop?