Former Vice President Joe Biden reached out to Brandeis University Law Prof. Anita Hill earlier this month for his role in the infamous Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirming hearings, and it wasn’t well received. For many, the “I’m sorry” came two decades too late.
“I cannot be satisfied by simply saying I’m sorry for what happened to you,” Hill told The New York Times in a new report. “I will be satisfied when I know there is real change and real accountability and real purpose.”
People noticed the timing of Biden’s apology. He finally announced his run for president on Thursday, amid allegations that he inappropriately touched women. The apology came weeks before the announcement of a presidential bid.
Stating obvious here: Biden had 28 years to say something. Called weeks before his presidential launchhttps://t.co/8DfRSML2KS
— Steadman™ (@AsteadWesley) April 25, 2019
The fact that he waited more than two decades to reach out to her and then did it right before announcing his campaign for president is despicable — and telling. https://t.co/flT41TbPQ8
— Saeed Jones (@theferocity) April 25, 2019
Would Biden have called if he weren’t running for President? https://t.co/GnoHePZEnI
— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) April 25, 2019
This is how Joe Biden treated Anita Hill. pic.twitter.com/brKxNZ2FD8
— VICE News (@vicenews) April 25, 2019
4. Who told Biden it was a good idea to "apologize" weeks before running and to share the news on the day of the announcement?
One of the biggest rules when it comes to apologies is to never do it when you need something…it just looks disingenuous. https://t.co/Bc4AkSu1LO
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) April 25, 2019
Biden, then a Democratic senator out of Delaware, oversaw the 1991 hearings as chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Hill had detailed her allegation that conservative Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas–her supervisor at the U.S. Department of Education and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission–sexually harassed her.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) suggested she based her claim in part on a novel, and Sen. Alan K. Simpson (R-Wyo.) read a statement from an anonymous federal prosecutor (who was reportedly part of Thomas’ defense team) saying that she might have passed a polygraph test because she was delusional, according to a Times article looking back at the hearings. General consensus nowadays is that Hill was treated terribly. Biden has been drubbed for enabling this treatment, and not calling up three witnesses who would’ve backed up Hill’s allegation.
She definitely hasn’t forgotten, and declined to even describe Biden’s words as an apology.
“The focus on apology to me is one thing,” Hill said in the new report. “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.”
Biden’s deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield described the conversation like this: “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.”
Biden’s role in the Hill hearings have plagued him for a while, even more so in recent months. He finally announced on Thursday that he’s running for president, but this comes after former Nevada assemblywoman Lucy Flores said he smelled her hair and kissed the back of her head during a 2014 political event.
Biden released a videotaped statement saying he promised to respect people’s physical boundaries from now on, and attributed the controversy to changing social norms.
Social norms are changing. I understand that, and I’ve heard what these women are saying. Politics to me has always been about making connections, but I will be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future. That’s my responsibility and I will meet it. pic.twitter.com/Ya2mf5ODts
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) April 3, 2019
Nonetheless, the Hill issue is likely to follow Biden around the campaign trail.
may Anita Hill always be trending every time Joe Biden is
— Sarah Jaffe (@sarahljaffe) April 25, 2019
[Image via CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images]