His gigantic and often conflicting dreams had propelled Clarence Thomas to Washington. Now, as the decade of Reagan drew to a close and his vice president, George Bush, rose to take his place, Thomas found that many of these goals were within his grasp. There was but one major catch: he would finally be forced to choose among them.
Thomas could look back upon his work at EEOC with extraordinary pride and satisfaction. The chairman had indeed "finished the job." The best illustration of EEOC's progress under his leadership was the new esteem in which its previously woebegone financial department was held. Willie King remembered that after EEOC brought its financial house in order, other agencies, such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission, "were sending their workers over to EEOC, believe it or not, to figure out how to handle their financial problems." Though many had aided his efforts, Thomas had demonstrated that even in a recalcitrant bureaucracy, one man could make a difference.
With his work completed at EEOC, that old, elusive quarry, money, now dashed onto the scene again. Thomas recalled that at the dawn of the Bush administration, his objective was straightforward: "Pure and simple, I wanted to be rich." Ricky Silberman, who had become a close friend of Thomas's, shared the same recollection. "He wanted to make a lot of money. He wanted to go into the corporate world." She added that other factors disturbed this simple plan. "There was a part of him that required intellectual stimulation."
His financial opportunities were numerous and inviting. Marini recalled, "I'm sure he could've made a lot of money. And he mentioned he could've made a lot of money." Dick Leon, then practicing corporate law in Washington, estimated that Thomas "easily" could have