Toobin Will Say Whatever It Takes to Slam Clarence Thomas — Even If He Said the Exact Opposite Thing Eight Pages Earlier
In the next few days, I will have a full review of Jeffrey Toobin’s “The Nine.” The book is readable, entertaining — and highly problematic. The issues I’m having with the book stem from Toobin’s prejudice against the conservative justices, as illustrated by two passages I just read about Clarence Thomas.
In the first, Toobin derides Thomas as an extreme conservative — a lonely voice in the wilderness who is “neither influenced by nor with influence upon his colleagues.” Toobin says that Thomas engaged in a “lonely, often solo effort” to restore a constitutional view of limited government. After five pages of describing Thomas as an isolated extreme conservative, Toobin concludes:
So Thomas was ideologically isolated, strategically marginal, and, in oral argument, embarrassingly silent.
A mere eight pages later, Toobin changes his tune entirely. In a snide response to Thomas’s speeches describing himself as a courageous outsider, Toobin sneers:
Never, on these occasions, did Thomas acknowledge that he was not some lonely voice in the wilderness but a Supreme Court justice whose votes, more often than not, were in the majority.
So Thomas is “ideologically isolated,” “strategically marginal,” and engaged in “lonely, often solo” efforts — descriptions that allow Toobin to portray Thomas as extreme. But when Thomas describes those characteristics as a virtue, Toobin suddenly downplays them — and mocks the very description of Thomas that he advanced eight pages earlier.
The only consistency here is in the negative slant against Thomas.
I don’t mean to suggest that the book is nothing but a one-sided screed against Thomas and his conservative brethren. As my upcoming review will show, Toobin also tells some heartwarming stories about Thomas as a man — stories that will no doubt surprise those who have turned Thomas into a bogeyman.
But this set of contradictory passages illustrates why I can’t trust Toobin. As entertaining as much of his book is, I’m taking it all with bucketfuls of salt.
UPDATE: Another Toobin assertion I’m skeptical of, discussed here.