By GREG MARKLEY
Most people who lived through Watergate have a vague recall of Martha Mitchell. She was a bit character in the corrupt dealings that led to President Nixon’s resignation. Martha was the wife of John Mitchell, U.S. attorney general. She became an occasional news item with her bold and insightful descriptions at the corrupt Nixon White House.
The Pine Bluff, Arkansas, native became a regular guest on TV talk shows and variety shows such as Laugh In. By 1970, a Gallup poll had her recognizable to 76% of Americans. She spoke from the heart, in praising Republican initiatives or revealing actions that the president did not want publicized. She was called “The Mouth of the South” for good reason.
“Martha Mitchell brought to the Nixon Administration a welcome touch of zaniness and genuine good humor,” wrote National Review in 1976. “Seizing on a rare good thing, the press tended to exploit her.”
In 2022, Ginni Thomas is the wife of Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Clarence Thomas. She is being investigated for encouraging Trump’s last chief of staff to help overthrow the 2020 presidential election. The ideas shared by Mark Meadows and Thomas are right out of the QAnon far-right book of lies.
Jack Shafer, Politico media writer, wrote a piece titled, ‘Why historians should be grateful Ginni Thomas texts like a teenager.’ “While we can dun Thomas and Meadows for their stupidity, we should thank them for their hubris and encourage them to continue their careless ways,” Shafer wrote.
Ginni Thomas said she was “disappointed and frustrated that there was violence following a peaceful gathering of Trump supporters on the Ellipse on January 6.” What? She has been an ultra-conservative activist for decades. If she missed the Proud Boys, wearing black and yellow polo shirts and tactical vests, storming the Capitol, then she was asleep.
Justice Thomas was voted onto the court by a Senate tally of 52-48. His small margin was due to a controversial testimony by a female professor who used to work with Clarence Thomas.
In 2010, Mrs. Thomas sent a letter to Anita Hill saying, “I would like you to consider an apology sometime and full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband … Pray about this and hope one day you will help us understand why you did what you did.” This letter was sent almost 20 years after Hill nearly upended Clarence Thomas’ nomination with sexual harassment claims.
In January, the Supreme Court blocked Trump’s bid to keep administration records from being handed to the Jan. 6 committee. It was an 8-1 decision, with Clarence Thomas the lone dissenter. His wife’s political activism is a big challenge, as Jan. 6 investigators are likely to look into her plans of an overthrow of the 2020 election.
A U.S. Supreme Court justice can be recused only if he or she allows it. A good alternative is to get questions from the justice and have others on the court ask them for him or her. Clarence Thomas should not be forced to withdraw from a specific case. A fallout should highlight his wife and former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. It’s Ginni’s problem, let her stew in it. She is a lawyer and knows stealing an election is both unconstitutional and unconscionable.
As for Martha Mitchell, she could take pride in showing the corruption in the Nixon administration. In April 1974, she landed a job as guest host of the program Panorama on WTTG-Washington, DC. It lasted one week. Son Jay was a big help, but she declined fast.
She was described by her lawyer as: “… desperately ill, without funds and without friends.” She died at age 57 in New York City, of multiple myeloma, according to The Washington Post. Her son, ex-husband and her daughter attended the funeral in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
Will Ginni Thomas the lawyer wise up and support the Constitution? Can Justice Thomas put his wife’s views in the background when addressing cases? Will the liberal press finally respect Thomas for his durability at the court? Will conservative media acknowledge that the Ginni and Mark Meadows emails and text messages were outrageous? Who knows?
At her funeral, Martha Mitchell’s family sent a floral arrangement of white chrysanthemums that spelled “Martha was right.” From here on, Ginni Thomas must be careful about who she hangs around with, and how she obeys election laws and has integrity. With that, her tombstone may say: “Ginni was honest!”
Greg Markley first moved to Lee County in 1996. He has Masters’ in education and history. He taught politics as an adjunct in Georgia and Alabama. An award-winning writer in the Army and civilian life, he has contributed to the Observer for 12 years. firstname.lastname@example.org