The Washington Post stoops to the tabloid level today. On the front of Wednesday's Style section is this promotional plug: "The Supreme Court justice is only one of many partners whose caresses McEwen graphically recalls in NC-17 prose."
The justice is Clarence Thomas, and the author of the steamy passages is Lillian McEwen, a former Joe Biden aide and Clarence Thomas girlfriend. Last October, the Post promoted McEwen coming out to criticize Thomas after being silent for decades, including during the Hill-Thomas hearings. Now McEwen has issued her memoir, titled 'D.C. Unmasked & Undressed -- a book so lacking in market appeal that its publisher is Titletown, based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. But the Post is very interested in exploring Thomas's sexual activity, even as the paper's "Reliable Source" gossips pretended to care about his privacy:
Four months after Lillian McEwen broke a two-decade silence about her longtime relationship with Clarence Thomas, the retired administrative law judge has written a book.
And it is dirty. Really dirty.
McEwen's "D.C. Unmasked & Undressed" starts off as memoir of childhood abuse but evolves into twin journeys of sexual discovery and Capitol Hill careerism. The Supreme Court justice is only one of many partners whose caresses McEwen graphically recalls in NC-17 prose -- he doesn't even show up until midway through -- but he's singled out for special reminiscence.
The author swoons over the fit physique -- "velvet-covered cement" -- she says that Thomas hid under baggy suits, and kisses that "tasted like honey." We're sparing you a lot of bodice-ripping details that go way beyond the family-newspaper zone. A spokesperson for Thomas's office said the justice will not comment on the book.
Other than asking Thomas for a "no comment," the Post isn't attempting to determine whether any of McEwen's stories are true. But they're spreading this dirty laundry anyway. McEwen claimed that Thomas deserves it, since he accepted a nomination to the Supreme Court. There's no attempt to explain whether this weak excuse would meet the Post's journalistic standards if someone wrote a steamy book about the sex lives of Sonia Sotomayor, or Elena Kagan, or even Stephen Breyer.
McEwen acknowledged to us that she can provide no third-party verification for some of the racier pastimes she claims to have introduced to Thomas. "I have not used any real true names" of the other people in her orbit, she told us. "That would be something that would intrude on their privacy."
Well, what about Thomas's privacy? He's certainly named in the book. Doesn't even a Supreme Court justice deserve to have certain personal moments remain personal?
McEwen says no. When she was a staffer on the Senate Judiciary Committee, she saw nominees drop out of the confirmation process when confronted with sexual rumors, she said. "Sex was such an important part of [Thomas's] life, and his way of going through the world," she said. "His privacy is something he decided to sacrifice when he went forward with the nomination, as far as I'm concerned."
Now, maybe we're reading between the heavy-breathing lines, but. . . sounds like Thomas ("a national treasure") was fantastic. "He was the best!" McEwen replied, laughing. " It's why I stayed with him for so many years! Not the only reason, but it's up there at the top."
So what about when the shoe is on the other foot? Consider Gennifer Flowers, with whom Bill Clinton eventually admitted an affair in court in the Lewinsky saga in 1998. On April 25, 1995, the Post's Reliable Source gossip column offered this snarky item on her memoir, wishing that floozy Flowers would just go away:
Move Over, Hester Prynne
The presidential election is still eons away, but one Southern belle is happily out on the trail, determined to prove that slightly withered flowers can still be in season. Gennifer Flowers -- self-anointed presidential paramour, Penthouse pinup and newly minted authoress -- staged an L.A. news conference yesterday to hustle her new book, "Passion & Betrayal."
"This was not a book written in hate, but rather love," Flowers insisted to the 30 or so somewhat skeptical reporters. And then with some real histrionics, she gushed: "Bill Clinton will always have a piece of my soul, and I'll never love someone again the way I loved Bill Clinton. I think I'm going to cry now." (Gag us.)
White House spokeswoman Mary Ellen Glynn said succinctly: "More cash for trash."
Some of the reporters in L.A. could hardly conceal their snickering. To which Flowers shouted: "If you all would just read the book you would see for yourself! Look, I admit I was very wrong to have had become involved with him. I am a sinner, I'll sin again, but I've asked for God's forgiveness.
"I was a nightclub singer. . . . I was supposed to screw around. But now I have this scarlet letter A on my sweater and I'm not going to go in a corner and hide."
We can only keep hoping .