Thomas Becomes a Conservative
"The best thing that can be said about the confirmation process is, 'It's over,'" Thomas remarked. His depiction of this relatively minor scuffle as the "nightmare of reconfirmation" showed that he had lost neither his penchant for exaggeration nor his thin skin. The swearing-in ceremony that followed offered little emotional ointment for these abrasions. The ceremony was an Armstrong Williams production, and Williams billed it as precisely that. The programs printed for the event bore the prominent advertisement, "Armstrong Williams Presents Clarence Thomas's Second Swearing-In." One high-level EEOC employee described the scene as "surrealistic." The festivities were held on the fifth floor of EEOC's headquarters. A band played in one room- "like a bar mitzvah"—but to no audience. "No one went in there because it was so odd."
The investiture itself was no less afflicting. Williams prevailed upon Senator Strom Thurmond to do the honors. Meese and Reynolds attended as well. Although the three dignitaries stayed for only a few minutes, this brief period was pregnant with discomfort for the man of the hour. Thurmond welcomed Thomas to Washington—despite the fact that Thomas had worked there for seven years. The senator vainly sought out Thomas's better half. "Where's your wife? Where's your wife?" Thurmond wailed in his Southern accent. "Your wife should be here." This was grating enough for a man still sensitive about his recent divorce; worse still, his new romantic interest, a white woman named Virginia "Ginni" Lamp, was standing nearby.
The ceremony reached its low point when Reynolds spoke. He raised his glass to propose a toast to the chairman. The words he uttered were well intended but hurtful. "It's a proud moment for me to stand here,"