I Did Do It
O.K., folks, you want the truth?
The whole truth and nothing but?
After all this time, you’re still dying to see the mystery solved?
Fine. I did it. Everything A. said — let’s just use the initial because it’s still hard for me to speak the name of my victim and tormentor — was true.
I did what I had to do and I didn’t care if it ruined A.’s life. I didn’t even care if people thought it was obscene.
I knew I was misusing my position, but I enjoyed having that kind of raw power over A. and saying the things I said. It made me tingle all over. I’m not going to deny that.
The liberals have turned A. into an icon. Give me a break. We are talking about a world-class know-it-all — someone prissy, uptight and no fun.
Not the sort of person I’d like to tailgate with, listen to Marvin Gaye with, share Ripple or a Scotch and Drambuie or a blackberry brandy with — if I were still drinking.
Not the kind, like my wife, Ginny, I’d bring along on an expedition in my custom-made motor home — those idyllic times when I get away from the meanness in Washington. Can you imagine that stiff A. spending the night in a Wal-Mart parking lot or hanging at a truck stop?
The liberals championed A. because they wanted to keep abortion safe. They can’t stop reliving the historic face-off, reopening the wound, replaying that whole media circus, wishing it had come out the opposite way.
Ginny has her heart set on having my memoir reap redemption. A lot of journalists on A.’s side in the last round have come over to my side. They’ve even shown the lighter side of Clarence. My new friend, ABC’s Jan Crawford Greenburg, called me one of “the most complex, compelling, maligned and misunderstood figures in modern history.” And thank you, Steve Kroft. I never thought “60 Minutes” could be so sweet.
A. looks a lot different now — I’ve caught the TV interviews and op-ed opining — but the old self-righteousness is still there.
I have no apologies to make. When you’re born in a backwater shack in Pin Point, Ga.; when you grow up poor, cold and hungry; when you get a bellyful of racial slights and condescension; when you can’t get a job after graduation, even with a degree from Yale, because you’re competing with rich, white, well-connected guys who were legacies at Yale, that’s when the anger boils up in you.
Every Southern black who lived through Jim Crow knows the feeling. From the time I was a kid, when my white classmates made fun of me as “ABC” — “America’s Blackest Child” — the beast of rage against The Man has gnawed at my soul.
Your Yale law degree isn’t worth 15 cents when everyone assumes you got special treatment because of the color of your skin, when, really, it was the witless Wonder Bread elites who got special treatment because of the color of their daddy’s money.
I still have a 15-cent sticker on the frame of my law degree because it’s tainted. I keep it in the basement.
That’s why I refuse, as a justice, to give a helping hand to blacks. I don’t want them to suffer from the advantages I had. Few of them will be able to climb to my heights, of course, but if they do, they will have the satisfaction of knowing that they made it on their own, as individuals.
Because Poppy Bush put me on the Supreme Court after I’d been a judge for only a year, I’ll always wonder if I got the job just because of my race. I want to spare other blacks that kind of worry. That’s why I pulled the ladder up after myself — so that my brothers and sisters would have the peace of mind that comes with self-reliance.
I used to have grave reservations about working at white institutions, subject to the whims of white superiors. But when Poppy’s whim was to crown his son — one of those privileged Yale legacy types I always resented — I had to repay The Man for putting me on the court even though I was neither qualified nor honest.
So I voted to shut down the vote-counting in Florida by A. — oh, I’ll just say it: Al — because if he’d kept going he might have won. I helped swing the court in case No. 00-949, Bush v. Gore, to narrowly achieve the Bush restoration.
I know it wasn’t what my hero Atticus Finch would have done. But having the power to carjack the presidency and control the fate of the country did give me that old X-rated tingle.
Al Gore’s true claims didn’t matter in that standoff any more than Anita Hill’s true claims did during my confirmation. That’s the beautiful thing about being a conservative. We don’t push for the truth. We push to win, praise the Lord.
It’s a relief to finally admit it: I’m proud to have hastened Al’s premature political death, hanging by hanging chads. It was, you might say, a low-tech lynching.