President George Bush's appointment of Judge Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court is so slick, so urbanely cynical, that it will become a prime anecdote in the Bush legend.

This is the way the old Yale man handled the questions of abortion, civil rights and equal opportunity.

He picked a black man whose expressed views are so regressive and to the right that they are astonishing.

If Judge Thomas were a white man, the howls of protest from the black community at his appointment would already be a threat to the peace.

If he were white, there would be no question the liberals in the U.S. Senate would be poised to toss his nomination out because of his views on abortion.

If he were white, lawyers would be saying openly that his qualifications for a seat on the Supreme Court are so thin as to be laughable.

But Clarence Thomas is a black man who has sold himself to the right wing, and so all hold their tongues and wait for someone else to speak out.

In Judge Thomas, we have a candidate for the highest court in the land whose views are so reactionary that he makes Judge Robert Bork seem like the voice of reason.

Judge Thomas is a black man who with a straight face has willingly sold his soul to a clique of powerful Republicans. First there was Senator John Danforth for whom he worked in Missouri. Then it was on to Ronald Reagan and George Bush.

Judge Thomas performed the dirty little deeds of the Reagan administration during what became his tumultuous reign as chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Washington, D.C.

With justification, Hodding Carter III called him "the black hit man for the campaign against affirmative action." Judge Thomas' rewards for marching, lock step, at the head of the right-wing parade as the white man's house nigger have been swift and ongoing.

First, Bush appointed him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Now, only a year later, Bush declares him to be the one person in the country most qualified to ascend to the Supreme Court bench.

What a travesty.
The only thing that qualifies this angry, warped conservative hit man is the fact that it is already clear from his record that he will vote with the conservative majority on the abortion issue.

This is Bush's most cynical move since the running of the Willie Horton commercials during the presidential campaign.

We should never forget this one thing about our current president: Bush is never above making the most blatant racist move while all the while proclaiming his pure intentions. He is the ultimate public hypocrite.

To those who remember the dangerous, difficult trail that led retiring Justice Thurgood Marshall to his seat on the court, the television scene at Bush's mansion at Kennebunkport, Maine, last week was enough to turn one's stomach.

It was a scene reminiscent of the pre-Civil War South. The new boss slave is called up to the mansion house to be patted on the head and praised because he has learned his lessons well.

"I believe he will be a great justice," Bush said at that press conference. "He is the best person for this position." How laughable this all would be if for an instant we thought Bush or anyone else around him believed it.

Bush might just as well have said to the Democrats:
"All right, boys, here's your black Supreme Court justice. The only problem is we've got him brainwashed to vote our way. Vote him out at your own peril. My next pick will be a far-right-wing Hispanic." We are seeing the Supreme Court crumble before our eyes. There was a time when it was thought this court, led by people of wisdom and forbearance, was our last resort against the emerging police state. Now, in the last few years, it has increasingly turned into a roaring engine pulling the forces of oppression.

Justice Marshall fought the battle for civil rights as a lawyer at great risk to his life and his career. He finally argued the historic Brown v. Board of Education case before the Supreme Court when Clarence Thomas was only five years old.

Of course Marshall stayed too long on the court. He was 83 and terribly tired when he departed. But Marshall spent the last nine years hanging on only because he knew what kind of judge Reagan or Bush would choose to replace him.

In his last press conference, Marshall said himself that it would be more important to pick the right man and not merely a black man to replace him.

Marshall must be shaking his head in sadness now. George Bush didn't disappoint him.

He picked Judge Thomas, a black man who has made a career out of saying things that make white men like Jesse Helms smile with approval.

Clarence Thomas is the white man's revenge.

If there is room for only one pullquote, use the first one (i.e., Willie Horton reference). DJB.

This is Bush's most cynical move since the running of the Willie Horton commercials during the presidential campaign.

The new boss slave is called up to the mansion house to be patted on the head and praised because he has learned his lessons well.

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Tom Fitzpatrick