— Mike Memoli (@mikememoli) April 26, 2019
Silver lining argument: It’s a good thing we’ve advanced enough that — for Democratic politicians, at least — it’s a problem when someone’s been ‘merely’ disrespectful / dismissive of women, without being actual rapists or pathological horndogs. Kinda like it was a problem for a certain long-term politician who praised then-candidate Barack Obama as “clean and articulate” back in 2007. Obama forgave Biden then; will voters (especially women voters, and voters of color) be as understanding today?
Jane Mayer, who was there for the hearings, at the New Yorker:
… Predictably, Biden was asked if he should have given Hill a fuller and more personal apology. Biden again stopped short of blaming himself, saying, “I did everything in my power to do what I thought was within the rules.” He then added, “I don’t think I treated her badly.”
Biden failed to acknowledge that, as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991, he set many of “the rules” that damaged Hill and determined the over-all fairness of the process. As Jill Abramson and I reported in our 1994 book about the Thomas confirmation fight, “Strange Justice,” several of Biden’s Democratic colleagues in the Senate later acknowledged that, in his eagerness to be impeccably fair to all sides, Biden got outmaneuvered by the Republicans. That left Hill and, ultimately, the truth undefended. As Howard Metzenbaum, a crusty Democrat from Ohio, later admitted, “Joe bent over too far backwards to accommodate the Republicans, who were going to get Thomas on the Court come hell or high water.” An adviser to Ted Kennedy, the Massachusetts liberal whose own womanizing eroded his credibility, was more critical still, saying, “Biden agreed to the terms of the people who were out to disembowel Hill.”
Even one of the top lawyers on Biden’s Senate staff at the time, Cynthia Hogan, now faults their handling of the hearings. As she admitted this week to the Washington Post, “What happened is we got really politically outplayed by the Republicans.” Hogan, now the vice-president for public policy for the Americas at Apple, explained that Biden had wanted to be seen as a neutral arbiter, while the Republicans instead wanted to win. “They came with a purpose, and that purpose was to destroy Anita Hill. Democrats did not coordinate and they did not prepare for battle. I think he would say that that’s what should be done differently.”…
The staffers working for Metzenbaum and Kennedy, however, took Hill’s allegations more seriously and were the first to reach out to her. They urged Biden’s staff to talk to Hill as well. But the effort languished in Biden’s office, where his staff followed his personal rules, which went beyond those of the Senate. The aide who investigated the claim, for instance, declined to call Hill, requiring that Hill instead initiate contact. Once they spoke, the aide declined to act on Hill’s allegation unless Hill consented to Biden’s office confronting Thomas directly and disclosing Hill’s name to him. Hill, who hadn’t asked for any of this, demurred. Biden’s aide concluded that Hill had merely wanted to “get it off her chest.” The public, meanwhile, heard nothing about it…
Biden said in a later interview that he believed Hill from the start, but Thomas and his wife have said that Biden called them after reading the F.B.I. reports and assured them that there was “no merit” to Hill’s accusations. Further, Senator John Danforth, a Republican from Missouri who was Thomas’s primary sponsor, later said that Biden promised Thomas and his wife that, if Hill’s allegations leaked, he would be Thomas’s “most adamant and vigorous defender.”…
This is, it will be pointed out, very much in character for Collegial Joe, Champion of Working Across the Aisle. And sexual harassment was, at the time, a new-ish and still very much debated concept. But Biden absolutely does have to come up with a better response.
There is a sense among some within the Biden orbit that if he starts apologizing — for Anita Hill, for the women who felt uncomfortable with how he touched them, for anything else — that it will open up the floodgates and he'll never be able to stop apologizing
— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) April 26, 2019
Joe Biden knew Anita Hill was going to be an issue for him. So a few weeks ago, as he prepared for his presidential announcement, he reached out to her through an intermediary and arranged a telephone call, hoping to assuage her.
It did not go how he had hoped.
On Thursday, the first day of his presidential campaign, the Biden camp disclosed the call, saying the former vice president had shared with Ms. Hill “his regret for what she endured” 28 years ago, when, as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he presided over the confirmation hearings in which she accused Clarence Thomas, President George Bush’s nominee to the Supreme Court, of sexual harassment.
But Ms. Hill says the call from Mr. Biden left her feeling deeply unsatisfied.
In a lengthy telephone interview on Wednesday, she declined to characterize Mr. Biden’s words to her as an apology and said she was not convinced that he has taken full responsibility for his conduct at the hearings — or for the harm he caused other victims of sexual harassment and gender violence.
She said she views Mr. Biden as having “set the stage” for last year’s confirmation of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, who, like Justice Thomas, was elevated to the court despite accusations against him that he had acted inappropriately toward women. And, she added, she was troubled by the recent accounts of women who say Mr. Biden touched them in ways that made them feel uncomfortable…
Ms. Hill, a deeply private woman who does not often speak publicly about her experience, said she does not find Mr. Biden’s conduct disqualifying. “I’m really open to people changing,” she said.
But, she added, she cannot support Mr. Biden for president until he takes full responsibility for his conduct, including his failure to call as corroborating witnesses other women who were willing to testify before the Judiciary Committee. By leaving them out, she said, he created a “he said, she said” situation that did not have to exist.
“The focus on apology, to me, is one thing,” Ms. Hill said. “But he needs to give an apology to the other women and to the American public because we know now how deeply disappointed Americans around the country were about what they saw. And not just women. There are women and men now who have just really lost confidence in our government to respond to the problem of gender violence.”…
Mr. Biden’s disclosure, and Ms. Hill’s interview, underscore the former vice president’s potential vulnerability from an event that is nearly three decades old, but that has new resonance in the #MeToo era and the aftermath of last year’s Kavanaugh hearings. That it erupted so quickly, with his campaign only hours old, suggests that Mr. Biden’s treatment of Ms. Hill will echo throughout his campaign unless he can find a way to convincingly put it to rest….
With Mr. Biden almost an instant front-runner in a very crowded Democratic field, the subject of Anita Hill is a delicate one among Democrats — even those who believe Mr. Biden bungled the hearings. Many former Judiciary Committee aides and other people who participated did not want to talk on the record because they feared that scrutiny of Mr. Biden’s past conduct would undermine the campaign of the candidate some think could be best positioned to defeat President Trump, whose treatment of women is a huge issue for Democrats…
And Professor Hill is not the only woman to whom Joe Biden has been… less than respectful:
Daily Beast reports Biden campaign didn't tell Heather Heyer's mother that he'd be invoking his daughter's murder in his campaign launch video.
"Most people do that sort of thing. They capitalize on whatever situation is handy" https://t.co/KJhwUBDHk9
— Brandon Wall (@Walldo) April 25, 2019
This is exactly what Joe would NEED to do, *IF* Senator Harris isn't the nominee, herself.
That said, it's been like 7 hours since Biden released this video, and we are already creating tickets for him. Meanwhile, the women with policy are relegated to the undercard… https://t.co/aAsB0YUwOs
— Bärí A. Williams (@BariAWilliams) April 25, 2019