The Editors at NRO got together and produced this analysis of Clarence Thomas in 1991. Contrast this with current statements coming out of NRO concerning Miers nomination.
Ultimately, however, the importance of Supreme Court Justices is not in the image they offer but in their workaday decisions that affect our lives. Clarence Thomas's (and George Bush's) legacy will be defined not by his pigmentation, but by his written opinions and by whether he contributes to the transformation of the Supreme Court into a responsible interpreter of the Constitution.
On the basis of what is known, there is every reason to believe that Judge Thomas will live up to his promise. Truth be told, however, his public record on issues other than civil rights is still more Souteresque than Borkian. So it is vital that conservatives, during these brief moments of accountability in the judicial-selection process, should participate fully in public dialogue with the nominee. Unlike the liberals, however, our aim should be to learn not what Judge Thomas thinks about abortion, South Africa, contraception, and funding for the arts, but what he thinks about the role of the judicial branch within our constitutional system. — The Editors.
Although they are more deferential in their interogative, the skepticism rings familiar. Sop much for the reliability of "paper trails".
h/t Sir Linksalot