Is That Joe Biden Coming To Apologize, Anita Hill? STILL NO!
"Uncle" Joe Biden is running for president. We know he hasn't technically announced yet, but in our experience, politicians don't dwell on the mistakes of their past unless they're trying to explain them away for potential voters. Biden's biggest boner currently sits on the Supreme Court, like an ongoing Iraq War that doesn't speak during oral arguments.
You can't discuss Clarence Thomas's confirmation to the Supreme Court, which was horrific enough, without also talking about Anita Hill, who'd credibly accused him of sexual harassment. They are indelibly linked, like Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, and despite the decades separating these events, very little changed. A brave woman dared stand in the way of a powerful man and was made to suffer greatly for it.
Biden somehow thought it was a good idea to put Anita Hill's name in his mouth during remarks at the Biden Courage Awards last night. "Courage" is in the title of the event, so we're not sure why he'd want to talk about one of the least courageous acts of his political career. You don't see Meryl Streep going on about She-Devil when accepting a lifetime achievement award.
BIDEN: To this day, I regret I couldn't come up with a way to get her the kind of hearing she deserved, given the courage she showed by reaching out to us.
Yes, Hill was the courageous one. Was she actually receiving an award? Someone should've told her. Biden's word choice is interesting here. He "regrets" that he "couldn't come up" with a way to not treat Hill like garbage. It's been almost 30 years but to clarify, Biden was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He oversaw the damn hearings. Republican Chuck Grassley had this job during the Kavanaugh hearings, which explains the shit show we all saw. Biden, however, didn't set a more respectful tone when Hill was testifying. He pretty much sat there while old white men accused her of stalking and witchcraft. "Are you a scorned woman?" asked gross segregationist Strom Thurmond.
Biden himself also posed questions to Hill that were insulting on their face. He asked her to explain why she "moved over" to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission with Thomas. This implied that unless Hill sacrificed her own career goals and hid under a bed somewhere, she must've been a willing participant on some level to Thomas's repeated and unwanted sexual advances. We knew this was bad even in 1991 because Julia Sugarbaker told us so on a very special episode of "Designing Women."
Hill had to bear the scrutiny of a "bunch of white guys hearing" her testimony, and Biden feels just terrible about it. How were white men supposed to know about sexual harassment?
BIDEN: So, when Anita Hill came to testify, she faced a committee that didn't fully understand what the hell it was all about.
LOL! This "bunch of white guys" absolutely understood what sexual harassment was. They'd either witnessed it firsthand in the workplace or actively participated. Their mistreatment of Hill didn't stem from ignorance but anger. It frankly infuriated them that this black woman would dare challenge the accepted order of things. It reminds us of Lindsey Graham's rage-gasm during the Kavanaugh hearings. How dare any woman stand in the way of a man's ambitions?
BIDEN: We knew a lot less about the extent of harassment back then, over 30 years ago.
GTFOH! Does Biden really believe we're this stupid? An entire generation of women were inspired to political activism because they recognized what Hill experienced and resented how she was treated. Not listening to women or minorities is not a valid excuse. Women lawmakers were protesting Thomas's nomination just prior to Hill's testimony. If white men want to run the nation, they should talk to and, dare we say, listen to the people who live in it.
BIDEN: [Hill] paid a terrible price. She was abused through the hearing. She was taken advantage of. Her reputation was attacked. I wish I could've done something.
Biden could've called witnesses who were ready to corroborate HIll's claims. Three different women who worked at the EEOC at different times than Hill were willing to come forward. Biden said "naaw." Unlike Grassley, this wasn't because he was in the tank for the nominee. He was just too scared to do the right thing. Biden also let Thomas attack an accuser as a "disgruntled employee" without letting her defend herself publicly.
Republicans wanted to bumrush their puppet onto the Supreme Court. It was so obvious and offensive, given the charges against Thomas, that Colorado Rep. Pat Schroeder confronted Biden. He mansplained to her the importance of pinkie swears with fellow male senators, and how that was more important than respecting women.
SCHROEDER: We went to see Biden, because we were so frustrated by it. And he literally kind of pointed his finger and said, you don't understand how important one's word was in the Senate, that he had given his word to [Sen. John Danforth (R-Mo.), Thomas's chief sponsor] in the men's gym that this would be a very quick hearing, and he had to get it out before Columbus Day.
See, that's what the kids call "disqualifying." Younger folks might have trouble comprehending this given the results, but Democrats actually controlled the Senate in 1991 with 56 seats. Biden somehow let George H.W. Bush replace Thurgood Marshall with an unqualified mockery of everything he represented. Why did he show more respect for Thomas than for Hill? Was he afraid of offending black voters if Thomas's nomination failed? If so, he should've spent less time in the gym with white guys and more time around actual black people. Everyone in our family hates Thomas, and that is as true now as it was in 1991. Even black barber shops, which are soaking in testosterone like it's a dish of Palmolive, thought Thomas harassed Hill.
Biden is still sorry. And he's given a "public apology." He just hasn't managed to give a private one -- which we learned at the same time we learned that Anita Hill is hilarious.
He said, "I owe her an apology." People were asking, "When are you going to apologize to her?" It's become sort of a running joke in the household when someone rings the doorbell and we're not expecting company. "Oh," we say, "is that Joe Biden coming to apologize?"
Biden likes to remind us that he voted against Thomas. He even believed Hill's accusations. If so, then he should've done everything possible to keep a serial sexual harasser off the Supreme Court -- even if it cost him a racquetball partner. The inescapable truth is that Biden failed Hill. He failed women. He failed the nation. What's worse is that he still doesn't understand why. It's not clear he's even interested in learning.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.