Does Joe Biden owe Anita Hill an apology? | The Tylt
Does Joe Biden owe Anita Hill an apology?
As Joe Biden kicked off his formal campaign, he released a statement saying he had reached out to Anita Hill and offered an apology for the way she had been treated during the 1991 hearings. Per The New York Times:
The Biden campaign said Thursday that it would have no comment beyond its initial statement on Ms. Hill’s reaction to the call from Mr. Biden. “They had a private discussion where he shared with her directly his regret for what she endured and his admiration for everything she has done to change the culture around sexual harassment in this country,” said the deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield.
In an interview with The New York Times, Hill said she did not feel that Biden had taken accountability for what had happened to her and the way it had shaped American culture moving forward.
I cannot be satisfied by simply saying, “I’m sorry for what happened to you.” I will be satisfied when I know that there is real change and real accountability and real purpose to correct the issues that are still there....The focus on an apology to me is one thing. But there needs to be an apology to the other witnesses, and there needs to be an apology to the American public, because we know now how deeply disappointed women all over the country were about what they saw — and not just women. There are women and men now who are just — really have lost confidence in our government to respond to the problem of gender violence.
Shortly thereafter, Biden appeared on The View to discuss his presidential run. As The New York Times reports, the show's hosts brought up his non-apology to Hill:
Joy Behar, one of the hosts, suggested that Mr. Biden say to Ms. Hill, “‘I’m sorry for the way I treated you’ — not for the way you were treated.”
“I’m sorry for the way she got treated,” Mr. Biden responded, haltingly. “If you go back to what I said, and didn’t say, I don’t think I treated her badly.”
...But as he indicated on television Friday, Mr. Biden does not believe he personally mistreated Ms. Hill. He has also privately indicated reluctance to apologize for behavior that he did not feel responsible for. And Ms. Hill’s continued criticism of Mr. Biden since his call with her has only affirmed the view of some in his orbit that he is in a no-win situation — that no measure of regret will ever be sufficient for her and other critics.
Jane Mayer, who reported on the hearings, writes in The New Yorker that Biden clearly does not believe he had any direct control of the hearing. However, Mayer argues he had an outsize impact on the way Hill was treated.
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....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.”
...As Biden chaired the committee, Republican members relentlessly smeared Hill. Arlen Specter, a Republican senator from Pennsylvania, accused Hill of “flat-out perjury.” Orrin Hatch, the Republican senator from Utah, accused her of basing her allegations on scenes from the movie “The Exorcist.” In a final step, Biden gave Thomas the choice of testifying first, last, or both. Thomas’s team chose the third option, sandwiching Hill’s quiet, dignified testimony between Thomas’s vehement denials. Biden brought down the gavel closing the hearings at 2:03 a.m. on Monday, October 14, 1991. Thomas was confirmed the following day, at 6:03 p.m., in a 52–48 vote, the slimmest margin in more than a century.