“It was Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, who declared the proceedings a “war” and characterized Ms. Hill’s testimony as “flat-out perjury.” It was Alan Simpson, Republican of Wyoming, who suggested that Ms. Hill might be suffering from “a delusional disorder” and stated that unnamed others had told him to “watch out for this woman.” It was Howell Heflin, Democrat of Alabama, who suggested in his questioning that Ms. Hill might be a “scorned woman.” It was John Danforth, Republican of Missouri, who referred to Ms. Hill’s testimony as a “smear campaign.” (He later conceded that he had shown “no concern at all for fairness to Anita Hill.”) And it was Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, who declared that anyone who could produce allegations “so graphic and so crude and so outrageous” as Ms. Hill’s was “not a person” but a “psychopathic sex fiend or pervert.”
Compare these expressions of disrespect with statements that Mr. Biden made at the time. He described Ms. Hill as “an incredibly credible witness.” He criticized his “pontificating colleagues” for their repeated attacks on her integrity and the integrity of the confirmation process. He acknowledged that the proceedings over which he presided were “imperfect.” He expressed concern at the outset that Ms. Hill not be forced “against her will into the blinding light which you see here today.” It would be “immoral,” he said, “to push her in any way.”
Joe Biden voted against the nomination of Clarence Thomas.
Just when I thought my life was getting simpler, I came across the following comment after the op-ed above.
New York 3h ago
This defense of Joe Biden misses the point. Professor Bartlett’s basic argument is that the Republicans were much worse. And on that point she’s right.
But Biden chaired the committee. He knew that there were two witnesses in the room prepared to testify under oath that they had similar experiences with Clarence Thomas when he was Chair of the EEOC.
Biden also knew that if they testified that this would have been the fatal blow to Thomas’s nomination. President Bush would have failed with his second Supreme Court nomination (Souter was approved) and this would have hardened the political divide between Democrats and Republicans in congress as well as the GOP president.
So Biden decided to go along to get along, ignoring the history that Nixon had two nominees that also failed to pass the Senate and our political process survived.
But even then Biden was known as Mister Washington insider, the guy who could get things done by making deals.
We may never know what deal he made at Anita Hill’s expense. But we do know that he set back the movement for women’s equality by casting official doubt on all women who experienced sexual harassment on the job.
His failure to recognize what he did and his meaningless half apology is an example of his flawed judgement and total lack of awareness.
This is but one among many reasons why I will not be supporting him for president.
8 Replies 223 Recommend
Professor Bartlett has obviously not read Abramson/Mayer’s book Strange Justice, a stellar reporting job on the Thomas hearings. Their book demonstrates that Biden’s decisions as Judiciary Chairman (of a Senate with a 57-43 Democratic majority) enabled history’s most unqualified nominee to sit on our Supreme Court. In the words of one Kennedy aide quoted in the book, “Biden agreed to the terms of those out to disembowel Hill.” And when Biden’s own aide (Joe Schwartz) dug up testimony from Angela Wright and Kaye Savage–testimony that would have corroborated Anita Hill’s–Biden refused to let them testify. Most importantly, the book reveals that Biden’s enabling of Clarence Thomas was due is his deep felt need to “be liked” by everyone–i.e., to be a “pleaser”: exactly the type of person who should NOT be President with a Senate led by the ideologue Mitch McConnell. Read the history, Professor. And judge Biden not on his words, but on his actions.