My dad enjoyed my writings on the Huffington Post and we held similar feelings about politics, so our conversations about it were generally good, interesting and fun. He had excellent insights, which tended to tilt far more to the cynical side than me when it came to politics, although he was pretty liberal, even at 94.
However, whenever I wrote a column with an early observation that he hadn’t seen written about anywhere else, it wasn’t so much that he discounted it, but he held it in abeyance. “If that was true, why hasn’t the New York Times written about it?” he would always ask. My answer was always that I had thought of it first, but that wasn’t good enough. He would believe my insight, but not until there was a second source. And that source pretty much had to be the New York Times, to which he had a subscription.
It wasn’t his news Bible, though close. He didn't always subscribe to it -- it didn't even have a national paper until semi-recently, and even then he didn't subscribe. That was only much latter when he and my mom moved to to their independent living residence. For a long while decades before, he probably most relied on the excellent Chicago Daily News, but when that evening publication went out of business in 1978, he lost it as his Talmud. Much of the staff went to its sister morning, the morning Chicago Sun-Times, which we also subscribed to – but though the paper was good, and then improved, it was a “tabloid’ format, so that kept it from being a religious source for him. Eventually, the Sun-Times got bought out by Rupert Murdoch in 1984, a lot of their reporters left – notably Mike Royko – for the long-hated Chicago Tribune, and my dad left, too. He dropped his subscription and instead started getting the long-hated Tribune. (As it happened, Murdoch at to sell the Sun-Times only two years later when he bought the UHF station WFLD, but by then so many people had bailed.) But though the Trib had improved greatly over the years, and in the ‘80s had actually become pretty good, in fact, the reason it was long-hated by so many was its long history of being owned by the virulent ultra-conservative Colonel Robert McCormick. And given that my dad grew up in that era, even as much as the paper improved to the point where he was willing to actually subscribe, it was a hurdle much too high to get over for it to become his news Bible. It was a source, and so were a few other well-regarded publications, but the New York Times was as close to the ultimate Scripture for him.
(A slight digression. I had two columns that were his favorite. One was about Camp Nebagamon, and because so many people who belonged to his country club had kids who went there, he just dearly loved when they'd come up to him and tell him they'd read the article. The other was a weird story: when Barack Obama was running for president and suddenly fell behind John McCain who'd just named Sarah Palin his running mate. I wrote a HuffPo article, "12 Reasons why Obama Will Beat McCain." And soon after, some total stranger in Ohio forwarded the article to a friend of his in Chicago -- not knowing that this Chicago friend happened to be friend of my dad. So, when my dad's friend told him about getting the article forwarded, my dad thought that was just about the greatest thing.)
But back to the point here.
A week ago to the day, last Thursday I wrote an article of “Today’s Pondering” where I wrote that “Trump’s insurrection lawyer John Eastman had been a Supreme Court clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas.” And to this I added –
“It would seem to me that a clerk for Justice Thomas would know the Justice’s wife. Probably quite well. Which would mean that John Eastman knew Ginni Thomas. And it strikes me as not remotely unreasonably that, the two would cross paths and talk on occasion.” And from there I noted it was hard to imagine that she didn't mention to her husband about having talked to his old Supreme Court clerk.
For the record, “Remotely unreasonable” is what’s known as polite understatement.
Which brings us to the breaking news story in the Washington Post last night, written by Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey and Emma Brown. It begins –
“The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol has obtained email correspondence between Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and lawyer John Eastman, who played a key role in efforts to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to block the certification of Joe Biden’s victory, according to three people involved in the committee’s investigation.
“The emails show that Thomas’s efforts to overturn the election were more extensive than previously known, two of the people said. The three declined to provide details and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.”
The full article can be found here.
I’m not sure if my dad would have completely accepted my theory from a week ago. He probably would have thought it wasn’t crazy, but said if there was proof to it, why hadn’t anyone else written about it.
This morning I think he'd have believed it. No, it wasn’t from the New York Times -- but he liked the Washington Post, too, and understood the concept of papers getting a scoop on their competitors. Also, he liked "Rachel" and Lawrence O'Donnell, and because the latter reported the story, that would have been added confirmation.
By the way, I would suggest, too, that as blockbuster as this report from the Post is, I feel confident that communication between Trump lawyer Eastman and Supreme Court Justice’s wife Thomas wasn’t limited to emails. I’m sure they spoke, as well, and perhaps even met. And my general certainty aside, even the Post article says, “The emails show that Thomas’s efforts to overturn the election were MORE EXTENSIVE [emphasis added] than previously known.”
To be clear, I don't think my observation was anything special. I'm sure it crossed the minds of many. But I just hadn't seen any articles or commentary bringing it up.
And one other related thing. Let's bend over backwards and beyond all rational reason believe that Justice Clarence had absolutely no idea in the world about his wife's actions trying to overthrow the government and no idea at all who she was writing to and talking to. And so, he's had no reason to recuse himself from any court cases that concern the election. Let's totally unreasonably believe that. Well, fine -- but he knows now. So, he has absolutely no reason to not recuse himself from such cases anymore. Other than, "I don't have to, and I don't want to."
Anyway, for those who may have missed that original article a week ago, you can read the full thing here.
And man, after reading all this and it now being on the record, is is really hard not to snark out, "...but her emails!!!"
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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