For much of the past year, Joe Biden has been trying to find an answer that works when it comes to the treatment of Anita Hill during the 1991 Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
He tried again Monday in an interview that is set to air on “Good Morning America” on Tuesday. Said Biden:
“I believed her from the very beginning, but I was chairman. She did not get a fair hearing. She did not get treated well. That’s my responsibility. As the committee chairman, I take responsibility that she did not get treated well. I take responsibility for that.”
That goes further than what Biden told “The View” last week, and his general tone in the past as it relates to the way Hill was questioned about her allegations that Thomas has sexually harassed her in the workplace. The hearing – and Biden’s handling of it – has drawn the ire of many who, in the age of the #MeToo movement, point to a group of powerful white men interrogating a black woman as everything that has long been wrong with politics.
(If you have not watched the hearing – or at least part of it – you should. Although it was in 1991, it feels like 100 years ago in terms of how the senators act.)
What changed? Well, two things:
1) Biden is now officially running for president
2) Hill told The New York Times that she did not accept Biden’s apology for his actions then
Over the past few days, Biden has realized that simply saying that you wished things had been different back then – which is what he has been saying up until now – isn’t enough. And that the Anita Hill issue isn’t simply going away.
The Point: With his answer on “GMA,” Biden is trying to close this wound. To stop the bleeding. To move on. Taking full ownership of the situation – as Biden is doing here – seems like the best way to make that happen.