Opinionators are offering a number of explanations for Virginia Thomas's bizarro phone call to Anita Hill: love, innocence, naivete, Ambien. Are we, um, dancing around something here?
On Tuesday, Gawker's Max Read opined that maybe Thomas asked Hill for an apology nineteen years after the fact because she "was wasted at 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday and got to drunk-dialing." Journalist Karen Hunter said, "It'll probably come out that she was in an Ambien stupor — or maybe she's taping a reality TV show." So basically, Thomas was behaving like someone whose judgment was impaired.
Slate's Dahlia Lithwick extends a more complex theory:
My friend Nancy Goldstein wonders if this was meant to distract from a New York Times story that ran the same day as the fateful phone call, questioning Ginni Thomas' 501(c)(4) organization, Liberty Central. Perhaps, although it's difficult to imagine Ms. Thomas delivering a blistering Tea Party speech on a Friday night, opening her New York Times the next morning, and thinking, "Hey, maybe I'll call Anita Hill right this instant." Moreover, as Goldstein notes, if this was intended to distract from the conflicts around Liberty Central, it didn't work, since Hill sat on the message for several days.
Right, so her plans are strange, and they don't work.
Jacob Bernstein of The Daily Beast talked to Thomas's brother, who said of Hill's sexual harassment allegations, "I don't believe it needs to be in the press in any shape or form. It was very difficult for my mother and father who are now passed away, and I'm sorry that Ginni decided to talk more about it." He also talked to her aunt, who said only, "I'm confused." Thomas's actions don't make sense, even to her own family.
But was the call merely a brief lapse by an otherwise sensible person? Says her former boss Hal Daub,
I think what was in her heart was an attempt to see if there could be some healing. Maybe today she might think better of that outreach, but that phone call strikes me as very Ginni Lamp Thomas. It seems perfectly normal.
Bernstein also notes that Thomas used to be involved with the New Age group Lifespring, which some have called a cult, and that "her history with the group led some to view her as a bit of a flake." He also quotes Thomas's former minister:
There's a kind of naivete about her, a kind of innocence you have to be careful with. Ginni is a very, very trusting person — she once invited a homeless man out to lunch with her in a fancy Washington restaurant...I'm sure that's one of the reasons she was very susceptible to this group. She was looking for spiritual growth and trusted those people would do the right thing.
So Ginni Thomas is innocent, naive, overly trusting, and prone to doing confusing things without thinking them through. Let's come right out and say it: maybe she's just stupid.
Why Clarence's Wife Called Anita [Daily Beast]
Would You Like To Leave A Message? [Slate]
Clarence Thomas' Wife Calls Anita Hill To Ask For an Apology [Gawker]
Why Did Virginia Thomas Call Anita Hill After All This Time? [Politics Daily]
Earlier: Clarence Thomas's Wife Leaves Ridiculous Voicemail For Anita Hill