This went under the radar, eclipsed by the phone call to Anita Hill that preceded it, and later events:
Virginia Thomas, political activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has decided to relinquish control of Liberty Central, the conservative group she founded less than a year ago, so that the organization can escape the “distractions” of her media celebrity, a spokeswoman said.
Liberty Central blamed a staff error for a memo with Virginia Thomas’s name on it declaring health-care legislation unconstitutional – perhaps reflecting a new sensitivity to the relationship between her activism and her husband’s job.
It’s great she resigned, but did she have to wait until after the lobbying group she founded and ran declared the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional?
She didn’t violate any written or unwritten rule, and she has certain rights. Okay. Great.
What I’m wondering is whether it’s fair to ask people in these positions to consider voluntarily sacrificing some activities or actions?
They have the right to do these things. They’re within the rules. But rights don’t have to be exercised. Any person can voluntarily decline any opportunity, whether it’s an investment opportunity, running a lobbying shop, or working for Citibank.
They can choose to decline simply because pursuing that particular activity or opportunity might raise an issue for some segment of the public.
Are we, the public, in this at all when these things are revealed, or does this entire discussion continue to center on the rights of the person who chose to participate in an activity where “the optics aren’t good”.
When do we discuss the flip side? Not rights, we’re all for rights, no one is disputing that, but the responsibility that they might voluntarily take up as individuals to consciously avoid these situations?
“You know what? This looks bad. I’ll pass on this opportunity and pursue any one of the million other options available to me as a powerful and influential person.”
Or is suggesting that (now) inconceivable, and too much to ask of them?