Joe Biden: No Cheap Grace

In 1991 Joe Biden, then Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, acquiesced with the white guys piling on, ridiculing, humiliating and dismissing Anita Hill’s experience with Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.  Right wing pundit David Brock publicly tore into Hill as “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty”. Did Senator Biden have anything to say to rein in that kind of attack? Not a word.

Nor has Biden felt the need since then to call Professor Hill to apologize. He’s merely said, recently, that he’s sorry the hearings “happened to her” — as if he were a bystander to a random car accident and not a leader of the Judiciary Committee with wide discretion over what unfolded.

Apparently, Biden called Professor Hill last month to say, sort of, “sorry”. He’s sorry for what she endured, but silent on his role in it.

Professor Hill is offering Biden no cheap grace, and good for her. She says she’s looking for real accountability, real change and a real sense of purpose. She is not supporting Biden’s bid.

I’m with Anita Hill, and neither do I. I think it’s a core part of Biden’s political DNA to be “one of the guys”. He can’t separate himself from that any more than he can distance himself from feeling entitled to rub, nuzzle, smell, grasp, or otherwise be overly physical with random women.

I’ve said before in a post that I often had to navigate around a similar sense of entitlement from powerful men in the financial services industry. I had to keep them at arms-length lightly and with a sense of humor, because they were the people I had to do deals with. Getting the reputation as a bitchy or overly-sensitive woman was a kiss of death.

No more — not for our daughters or granddaughters, our nieces, the young women we mentor. If I were at a fundraiser for Biden today and he came up behind me and started nuzzling me or rubbing my back, I’d respond much more strongly than I felt able to do earlier in my career. I might even turn around and smack him. Then I’d smile sweetly and say, “Come on Joe, don’t be so sensitive. It’s just who I am. It doesn’t mean anything.”

No cheap grace, Joe. And no endorsement, and no vote.


10 thoughts on “Joe Biden: No Cheap Grace

  1. As they said on CNN this morning, a vote for Biden is a vote against Trump. There is no deeper message. While we do need someone who can win against Trump, we need a deeper seated philosophy and values. Biden isn’t it.

  2. for Katie: Agree. He’s already made his first gaffe, saying he wants to make American “straight” again. I imagine he meant something along the lines of back on the “straight and narrow”, but that isn’t how it will be heard. So far he doesn’t seem to stand for much other than going back to a more genteel version of America.

  3. I am counting on the voters in the primaries to sort it out for us. However, I am not opposed to Biden. I like all of the progressive ideas of so many of the other candidates, but I think the American electorate just wants to get back to “normal,” and I think Biden could do that. It may be that we need a breather………….normal and then progressive. And I’m not sure that on his own, Biden may just have some very progressive ideas. It’s really early……give him time. Bottom line for me is normal first!

  4. I agree with you Ada. Anita Hill’s treatment was appalling. But I do agree with Biden’s progressive policies.

  5. for Ada: I agree that the primary process will sort it out, but Biden is off to a strong start… and the younger Democratic talent is not yet breaking out.

  6. for Katie: I’ll wait and see how the primary season shakes out. Not sure what Biden’s progressive policies are… he carried a lot of water for MBNA bank in Delaware over the years.

  7. I think the American lelectorate is just plain tired: tired of the vulgarity, tired of the lies, tired of the tweets, tired of the chaotic foreign policy, tired of nothing getting done, tired of the insults……you get it. I hate to use the word “normalcy” because that didn’t work out so well after WWI, but I think Americans would welcome a breather. Let’s just have quiet stability for a little while……..if we were to elect Bernie, he would shake things up for sure. And so would Warren and some of the others. But I am tired of being shaken up. Peace, stability, competence and calm sound very appealing. I think Biden offers that.

  8. Katie: I meant that he is not a conservative. He is in the old sense, a liberal Democrat. He does have some things to answer for, I agree. But don’t all candidates, especially one with such a long record in government, have something to explain. And I do believe one can grow and change.

  9. for Ada: I don’t think Bernie is right either. I agree with you that people are growing tired of Trump. Remember that after a few seasons his ratings on The Apprentice dropped precipitously. He’s a tiresome person. Maybe Biden is right for the time. The primary process will sort that out, see if he holds up. I’d certainly vote for him over Trump, but not with any enthusiasm.

  10. for Ada: Yes, surely they all have things to answer for. We’ll have to see which ones matter most to the voters.

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