Monday, September 21, 2015

The gaffe-prone Biden and memories of Anita Hill

Anita Hill at Harvard Law School, 9/14, via Wikipedia
My first thought when I learned that Joe Biden could be running for president in 2016 was Joe's reputation for gaffes - his problem keeping his mouth shut that most likely led President Obama to publicly thank Jill Biden, Joe's wife,  "for putting up with Joe."

However, we've just been informed that Jill Biden is "on board" with Joe's potential 2016 run.

Naturally, all this talk about the likelihood of Biden challenging Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party's nomination next year is bringing up an unpleasant memory or two in Biden's political history, e.g., the Anita Hill debacle. Politico's got the story:

If Joe Biden gets into the presidential race, allies and supporters of Hillary Clinton say there are just two words that will make a difference as he seeks support among women and African-Americans: Anita Hill. 

Nearly 24 years have passed since the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in which Hill, a respected law professor, was grilled under oath about alleged inappropriate sexual behavior by Thomas, her former boss. The graphic testimony gripped Washington and the country and spurred intense public conversations about sex, harassment and the nominee's charge of being subjected to a "high-tech lynching for uppity blacks.'' 

Biden's done a lot over the past 24 years, including authoring the landmark Violence Against Women Act and leading its four reauthorizations. But that hasn't erased the memories of how Biden presided over those hearings as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, blamed for doing little to stop the attacks on Hill and opting not to call three other witnesses who would have echoed Hill's charges of sexual harassment. Biden almost apologetically gave Thomas the benefit of the doubt, critics say, and that stance helped putThomas on the Supreme Court.

Ever since, for many women and blacks, Hill's name conjures an image of a black woman struggling under attack by a dozen powerful white men asking aggressive questions and questioning her character.
If Biden decides to run for president, his path to the Democratic nomination requires him to stand in the way of the woman who could be the first female president — and issues of sex and gender will be on the table whether either side likes it or not.

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