The Corner

Law & the Courts

Kavanaugh, Thomas, and Crucial Differences

I’ve been listening to a lot — too much, really — media analysis of the latest in the Kavanaugh saga. Within the last 72 hours, it has become almost de rigueur to note the “amazing similarities” and “remarkable parallels” — or some such treacle — between the Anita Hill episode and the upcoming Ford testimony (if that happens). The similarities are pretty obvious at this point: a cheap, unprovable, last-minute she-said/he-said charge (according to many on the right) by a heroic female whistle-blower and truth-teller bravely standing up to the Senate to tell her story (according to many on the left), etc., etc.

But, perhaps because it’s become a cliché already, many commentators and analysts also feel compelled to point out “crucial differences” between back then and now. The two most prominent of which are the existence of the “Me Too” movement and the fact that there are now 22 female senators.

Those are important differences. But you know what? There is another “crucial difference” between the Clarence Thomas story and this one: Clarence Thomas was never accused of attempted rape.

I am not saying that I believe Dr. Ford’s allegation. If anything, I’m increasingly skeptical of it, but I’d like to hear from her before making up my mind.

But whether you believe her version of events or not, the simple fact remains that Clarence Thomas was accused of boorish behavior that Anita Hill interpreted as sexual harassment, not sexual assault.

If I were Clarence Thomas, I would consider that a pretty crucial difference. But for many in the media, it’s apparently a trivial detail not worth mentioning.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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