Joe Biden probably dug himself an even deeper hole with Black women voters in particular after he just couldn’t bring himself to say sorry to Anita Hill for how he treated her during the Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Clarence Thomas in 1991. The former vice president appeared on “The View” Friday morning and when co-host Joy Behar prompted Biden to say he was sorry, he didn’t.
For those who don’t remember, Biden, then the ranking chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time, allowed Hill, who accused Thomas of sexual harassment, to be attacked by a flock of old white men. Adding insult to injury, Biden also never called other witnesses to testify, something that many attributed to Thomas’ confirmation.
After Biden announced on Thursday his official third run at the presidency, Hill’s name began trending on social media. The obvious underlying theme was that Biden had yet to make up for the clear error in his ways.
“Here’s your opportunity right now to just say you apologize, you’re sorry,” Behar told Biden.
A stubborn Biden was adamant in his response.
“I’m sorry for the way she got treated,” Biden said sounding exasperated at having to revisit something that will likely follow him throughout his thrid campaign for the presidency. “If you go back to what I said, and didn’t say, I don’t think I treated her badly.”
The non-apology and apparent refusal to give one will probably not play well with Democratic voters who are women, Black women, Black people overall and anyone sympathetic to the #MeToo movement bringing awareness to sexual misconduct. It also could offset the news that Symone Sanders, a Black woman, was hired as a senior campaign adviser for Biden.
In nearly 30 years, the Capitol Hill lifer has never apologized to Hill, she told the Washington Post in 2017. In fact, he previously offered the same type of conditional mea culpa that he gave on “The View” Friday morning, she said at the time.
“He said, ‘I am sorry if she felt she didn’t get a fair hearing.’ That’s sort of an ‘I’m sorry if you were offended,’” she told The Washington Post.
In a phone interview with the New York Times on Wednesday, Hill said pretty much the same thing.
“I cannot be satisfied by simply saying, ‘I’m sorry for what happened to you,’” Hill told the Times in a story published Thursday. “I will be satisfied when I know there is real change and real accountability and real purpose.”
Earlier this month, Biden addressed the Anita Hill controversy at an event in New York.
“We knew a lot less about the extent of harassment back then, over 30 years ago. She paid a terrible price, she was abused for the hearing. She was taken advantage of. Her reputation was attacked,” he said. “I wish I could have done something. To this day I regret I couldn’t come up with a way to get her the kind of hearing she deserved, given the courage she showed by reaching out to us.”
Considering Biden’s nickname “Creepy Uncle Joe” stems from a series of non-sexual yet still uncomfortable interactions with women that have resulted in multiple complaints, it probably would have been wise for him to eat a large helping of humble pie and say he’s sorry. After all, politics is all about achieving a ways to a means. But the way he handled himself on “The View” could mean bad things for his young campaign moving forward.
Scroll down to see all the ways social media users were reacting to Biden’s non-apology to Anita Hill.