Joe Biden Is Apologizing to the Wrong Person

Joe Biden's announcement that he is running for President was unique in that the prelude included several apologies or near apologies for his behavior toward women.  Among those apologies was one to Anita Hill, who falsely accused Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.  As former Associate White House Counsel Mark Paoletta wrote a few years back when the Hill-Thomas subject was being brought up in relation to the Bill Cosby and Roger Ailes matters:

Clarence Thomas, on the other hand, has had exactly one woman accuse him under oath of sexual harassment in more than 35 years of public service: Anita Hill. Hill’s allegations never added up. The Yale-educated lawyer eagerly followed Thomas from one government agency to another, even after he had supposedly begun harassing her and even though her job at the first agency was protected by law. Her main witness repeatedly told the Senate Judiciary committee staff that the harassment took place before Hill even worked for Thomas. Hill was unable to produce any strong corroborating witnesses to Thomas’s alleged misconduct — indeed, when she gave FBI investigators the names of two women who could supposedly back up her story, they contradicted her claims. One of those women joined eleven other former female co-workers to testify on behalf of Thomas. None of Hill’s co-workers supported her claims. Not one. And the three FBI background investigations that Thomas had undergone for previous federal appointments had turned up no similar allegations.

Senator Biden should be apologizing to Justice Thomas.  Then-Senate Judiciary Chairman Biden literally lied to Justice Thomas on multiple occasions during that hearing process.

“A few days before I faced the Judiciary Committee, Joseph Biden invited [wife] Virginia and me to tour the Caucus Room in the Russell Senate Office Building, where the hearings would take place,” Thomas wrote. “Senator Biden was reassuring, stressing that the hearings weren’t meant to be an ordeal. He said that since I’d be nervous at first, he would start the questioning with a few ‘softballs’ that would help me relax and do my best, assuring me that he had no tricks up his sleeve.”

Instead Biden’s first question was a “bean ball” taking a few sentences of a speech by Thomas years before out of context.  But Biden was not done.  On the matters of a leaked draft opinion and Anita Hill, Biden told Thomas:

“Judge, I know you don’t believe me,” Thomas recalled Biden telling him, “but if any of these last two matters come up, I will be your biggest defender.”

Thomas recounted, “He was right about one thing: I didn’t believe him. Neither did Virginia. As he reassured me of his goodwill, she grabbed a spoon from the silverware drawer, opened her mouth wide, stuck out her tongue as far as she could, and pretended to gag herself.”

Of course, Hill’s statement to the committee, which was supposed to be confidential, was leaked to the media (Nina Totenberg of NPR and Tim Phelps of Newsday), and became a national feeding frenzy.

This led to the famous “high-tech lynching” of Justice Thomas.  If Senator Biden really wanted to do the right thing, he would apologize to Clarence Thomas.