How's this for a blast from the past? Nearly 20 years after Anita Hill's sexual harassment claims against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas riveted the nation, the "he said, she said" drama has exploded back into the headlines.
Miss the latest? Well, take a moment and read all about it from ABC News, which broke the story. Or if you prefer, here's The Associated Press report. The Wall Street Journal also has the story, as does USA Today.
As the top of The New York Times' story explains, the big news peg is, you guessed it, a voice mail:
WASHINGTON -- Nearly 20 years after Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his contentious Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Justice Thomas's wife has called Ms. Hill, seeking an apology.
In a voice mail message left at 7:31 a.m. on Oct. 9, a Saturday, Virginia Thomas asked her husband's former aide-turned-adversary to make amends. Ms. Hill played the recording, from her voice mail at Brandeis University, for The New York Times.
"Good morning Anita Hill, it's Ginni Thomas," it said. "I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband."
Ms. Thomas went on: "So give it some thought. And certainly pray about this and hope that one day you will help us understand why you did what you did. O.K., have a good day."
Religion aside for a moment, it certainly seems like this story has a ghost. I mean, we're talking two decades since the Thomas confirmation hearings, and this is news again? Then again, for those who pay close attention to the Washington scene, this isn't the first time Ginni Thomas has made waves in recent months -- and you almost wonder if she hoped that Hill would leak the voice mail to the media.
What waves do I mean?
Just this month, Slate ran an article about Ginni Thomas with the headline "The Battle Cry of a Supreme Court Wife." A Newsweek piece by Laura Miller referred to the Thomases as "the right's new power couple." So could there be a political motivation to a right-wing Supreme Court justice's wife leaving this voice mail message just weeks before a major midterm election? You tell me.
I refer, of course, to Ginny Thomas requesting that Hill "certainly pray about this." Every major news report that I've read, except for the Washington Post's story, contains that religious reference.
But no one makes the leap to the obvious follow-up question: Why would Thomas ask Hill to pray? We get background on Ginny Thomas' politics but no details on her religion. Such information certainly seems relevant in the context of the message left.
ABC's report noted that Ginny Thomas used similar language in a 2007 interview:
Virginia Thomas: "I think there's a lot of theories, but I hope she one day calls up and apologizes, and I look forward to forgiving her. ... I'm sure she got swept up into something bigger than she may have understood at the beginning of whatever she was doing, but I think she owes us an apology, and I look forward to receiving that phone call or that visit one day."
Forgiving her. I think that has the potential of a religious connotation. Right?
Although Clarence Thomas was raised a Roman Catholic, the couple regularly attend the Truro Episcopal Church, a charismatic congregation in Fairfax. A majority of the congregants oppose abortion, according to Gordon Klooster, the church administrator. A home was established on church grounds for pregnant women who decide against abortion. And the preacher occasionally delivers a antiabortion sermon, Klooster said. On Friday nights, the church holds a "prayer-and-praise service," a casual program that includes community singing, speaking in tongues and prophesying in the spirit of Christ. The Thomases are not Friday night regulars but they have attended within the past two months, Klooster said.