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Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill, 1991

By Floyd Phillips,2014-08-11 09:12
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Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill, 1991 ...

Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill, 1991

    When Thurgood Marshall, a longtime champion of civil rights, retired from the high bench in 1991,

President Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to replace him

    Thomas was a conservative African American recently appointed to the US Court of Appeals

    Graduate of Yale Law School, but had only a brief and undistinguished record as a jurist

Had headed the EEOC in the Reagan years

Staunch opponent of affirmative action

Liberals alleged that Bush was exploiting Thomas’s race to put a conservative of

    mediocre talents on the bench

Thomas nevertheless seemed headed for confirmation

    Then in October 1991 Anita Hill, a black lawyer who had worked for Thomas at the EEOC, raised serious charges against him

first to the FBI,

    then in a dramatic hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee

    Hill claimed that Thomas had sexually harassed her, repeatedly asking her out and discussing pornographic films.

Thomas flatly denied Hill’s charges

Called the Senate hearing a “high tech lunching”

    Members of the Senate committee, all of them male, tended to treat Hill’s claims skeptically

While some people put “We believe you, Anita” bumper stickers on their cars

    In the end the Senate confirmed Thomas by a slim margin of 52 to 48

    Hill-Thomas controversy raised the profile of sexual harassment as an issue in the United States

    His appointment added an unswervingly conservative vote to the court

RELATION TO POST-FEMINISM THE MORNING AFTER AND DISCLOSURE?

CLINTON ELECTION

Lots of Democratic presidential hopefuls didn’t want to run in 1992 – thought that Bush

    had the presidency sewn up after Persian Gulf War

But Clinton, young governor of Arkansas, rose to the challenge

    Brought to campaign new political style -- both cool and confessional

Dark glasses and saxaphone one day

Another day revealing what type of underwear he wore

Rumors had long abounded that he had sexual affairs

    Clinton capable of reinventing himself in the face of adversity -- the Comeback Kid

    When press reported an extramarital affair with a former nightclub singer

Clinton appeared on Sixty Minutes with wife Hilary Rodham Clinton

    Couple admitted that their marriage had encountered problems but that they had made them stronger

    Clinton promised to bring about economic recovery, welfare reform, national health coverage, and the development of new technologies

Meanwhile Bush campaign alarmed many by embracing the right

    At Republican convention, Pat Buchanan and the evangelist Pat Robertson shocked moderates in their own party

    by attacking feminists, homosexuals, and advocates of reproductive choice

Bush campaign also disparaged Clinton’s efforts to avoid the draft during Vietnam

As well as his disingenuous admission that he had smoked marijuana “but never inhaled”

Clinton believed that the national political center had moved to the right presented

    himself as a New Democrat

    Devotee of opportunity, equality, and economic growth achieved with fiscal restraint and encouragement of the private sector

But also tolerant of diversity in lifestyles and attitudes

    Staunch friend of affirmative action, abortion rights, and gay rights

Administration was diverse

    Appointed first woman atty general, an African American, a Hispanic, and several other women to cabinet and subcabinet posts

Also nominated Ruth Bader Ginsberg to the Supreme Court

    Placed issues of economic revival, the national debt, and health care high on his New Democratic agenda

    In all, Clinton brought to the presidency a propensity for social liberalism combined with economic centrism,

    Health care reform, spearheaded by Hilary Clinton, was unsuccessful

    In January 1993 Clinton announced that he intended to integrate homosexual men and women into all branches of the armed forces

(existing policy prohibited them from the military)

    gays and lesbians were serving in the military but keeping their identity a secret

    Clinton’s proposal outraged many conservatives who felt that it legitimated homosexuality

Also generated considerable dissent from within the armed forces

    on the grounds that the presence of overtly homosexual men and women would cause tension

In July, compromise positions, “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”

    Armed services would not inquire into the sexual orientation of its recruits

    and would not discharge men and women suspected of being homosexuals

    But gays and lesbians could not openly acknowledge their sexual preferences or engage in homosexual acts on or off base

Compromise dissatisfied Americans on both sides of the debate

    Later assessments suggest that it did little to make the military more tolerant of homsoexuials

    Clinton administration also stepped up the sexual integration of the armed services

    With the result that women soon served aboard ships at sea, underwent basic training with men, and lived in sexually integrated barracks

    By 1998, women comprised one out of seven members of the armed services on active duty

Midterm elections of 1994

    Republican resurgence in Congress partly informed by growing concerns about the Clintons’ characters

    During his gubernatorial years Clinton had been involved in the Whitewater Development Corporation, a speculative real estate venture in Arkansas

That was suffused with indications of fraud and conspiracy

    Questions compounded when in July 1993 Vincent Foster, then White House deputy counsel and a close friend of the Clintons who had been part of the Whitewater project, committed suicide

    In March 1994, press revealed that Hillary Clinton had earlier profted one hundred-fold from an investment of $1000 in cattle futures

    Quick return that struck some as a bribe from Arkansas business interests

    Then in May 1994, Paula Jones, a young woman from Arkansas, sued Clinton for sexual harassment,

    charging that three years before she had been brought to his hotel room by a state trooper, for sexual purposes

    Clintons denied the charges, but the accusations received ongoing attention in the media

Couple’s alleged improprieties helped intensify continuing resentments over

    immigration, abortion, women’s rights, pornography, sexual freedom, the

    breakaway from “family values”

    Right-wing talk show hosts such as the popular Rush Limbaugh held up the Clintons as all that listeners considered wrong with American culture

    Vulnerability to automation, corporate downsizing, and foreign competition increased social tensions

Many felt alienated by the administration’s stand on homosexuals

“Contract with America” (Newt Gingrich, Rep. Congressman from Georgia)

    middle-class tax cuts, welfare reform, congressional term limits, a tough anti-crime measure, and a balanced budget amendment

    in November landslide, Republicans gained 52 seats in the House and 8 in the Senate

recaptured congress for the first time since 1954

    Republican leaders celebrated the landslide as a repudiation of big, activist government and the moral decline that they claimed had come to dominate the United States

    Congress subsequently sent Clinton legislation slashing education and Medicare and Medicaid, which he vetoed

    In the face-off, federal government was partially shut down twice in the fall of 1995

    Rightward shift prompted Clinton to sign a welfare reform act in 1996 that reversed policies that had prevailed since the New Deal

Abolished AFDC

    Welfare was turned over to the states which would be given federal block grants accompanied by strongest rules

Coverage for most welfare recipients was limited to two years

    Welfare roles decreased dramatically in fall of 1996 -- helped to gain voters in the center to vote for Clinton

Clinton beat Dole easily in 1996

    But voter turnout only 54.2% -- indicator that interest in the political system was at a low ebb

THE PROSPEROUS NINETIES

    During Clinton’s second term economic boom that had begun early in the ninties became more exuberant

Unemployment fell steadily, reaching 4% in 2000, a thirty year low

1994-1998 GDP jumped by more than 14%

    1997 three out of four homes had air conditioning, four out of five had washing machines, one out of two had automatic dishwashers and personal computers

almost all had television sets

in 1998, wages and benefits rose at twice the rate of inflation

poverty rate fell to 13.3%

    even a majority of the poor possessed amenities such as cars, TVs, and microwave ovens that most of the world could only dream about

as in 1880s , prosperity in the 90s spread unevenly

    while a record number of Americans held jobs, majority were at the low end of the service sector

    for example, in telemarketing and sales, fast foods, and custodial and domestic work

    in mid-90s, more than one out of five Americans worked part time, with few or no benefits and no security or prospects for advancement

just one out of seven workers belonged to a labor union only 40% as many as in 1945

    which meant that standards for wages, hours, and working conditions of labor were all weakened

unlike the eighties, nineties lacked naked celebrations of greed

    but disquiet with the profit-maximizing practices of the marketplace

were evident in the popularity of Scott Adams’ cartoon strip Dilbert,

    which satirized corporate culture form the point of view of the hapless victims of restructuring and downsizing

millions of Americans watched The Sopranos

     TV series about an extended Mafia family in new Jersey

    whose members were absorbed with ordinary personal relationships at home

while routinely conducting murder and mayhem in their business

    The Sopranos is a metaphor for how the conflicts and decencies of private life

    coexisted with the cold-blooded indecencies that the marketplace often fostered

    Good deal of the economic miracle of the nineties was attributable to technological innovation

    Market for personal computers alone was a major economic stimulus

    According to a chorus of commentators, revolutions in biotechnology and communications were creating a “new economy”

whose capacities were as unbounded as human ingenuity.

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