Joe Biden, Sexist Surrogate
by feelfree, Sun Aug 24, 2008 at 09:28:52 PM EDT
The selection of Joe Biden as the number two on the Democratic ticket frankly dumbfounds me. It really makes me wonder what has become of this party. I have Googled for transcripts and searched youtube for video, but it seems those hearings have been cleaned up a bit. Or maybe I'm not looking in the right places. In the early 90's Joe Biden served as chairman of the judicial committee during the Clarence Thomas hearings. Some videos of the questioning of Thomas are available on youtube. Surprisingly I cannot find video of the questioning of Anita Hill.
Some may say that was a long time ago and is no longer relevant. I believe it is relevant as long as Thomas sits on the SCOTUS. It will be relevant in every decision that is made by the Court. Biden's incompetence is primarily the reason why Thomas's nomination went through. Thomas was confirmed with a Senate vote of 52-48. I didn't bother to look this up but if he was chairman of the judicial committee, does that mean Democrats held a majority in the Senate?
Thankfully I watched those hearings live and I know firsthand the judicial committee treated Thomas with kid gloves. They were courteous and respectful to him. They attacked Anita Hill like rabid dogs. Biden was shown to be sexist along with the 13 others and incompetent. Anita Hill provided vivid testimony on sexual harrassment by Thomas. This failure of leadership alone should have been enough to deny Biden VP into eternity.
From the NYT on Biden's role:
"He was basically playing judge," Susan Deller Ross, a Georgetown University law professor and expert in workplace sex discrimination, said of Mr. Biden, adding "the other side was playing advocate" for Mr. Thomas. "I'm sure you remember nobody played advocate for her. I don't think he did well and he bears responsibility for Mr. Thomas being on the court."
The complete article can be read here http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/
08/23/biden-and-anita-hill-revisited/ Did you observe who is sitting next to Biden in the photo? Yes, he also served on the committee.
It was another time and another place, but the issues of race, gender and politics intersected in a volatile way that still may hold resonance today, especially given the interplay of those themes (granted in entirely different ways) during the epic primary battle between Mr. Obama and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.
In this primary we experienced how race, gender, and politics became center stage and race still trumps sexism and many of the same players are playing the same roles. When will democratic women realize the power structure of the Democratic party sacrifices women when the choice is between race and gender? When will this party recognize sexism is anti-woman and anti-democratic and mean it?
I find it contrary that so-called progressives who expound the dangers of future Court appointments by a McCain administration supportive of the Biden selection. Some will say but, but, but he didn't vote for Thomas. He might as well have. Biden's selection is even odder when it comes on the heels of the sexism unleashed on the woman candidate in the primary.
And as others point out, the backlash sentiment among women voters, whose refrain about the Senate at the time, (and men in general) became "they just don't get it," may have become influential in propelling the first President George Bush to sign the 1991 civil rights bill. And in electing Bill Clinton to the presidency afterward.
Seventeen years later they still don't get it.
David Brock who was once a Republican operative wrote a book titled Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative. He confesses he defended Thomas although he knew Thomas was lying. He also wrote The Real Anita Hill and elaborates on Hill's testimony and provides support for the testimony she gave before the judicial committee.
The most startling bit from the NYT article:
Ms. Ross, who was one of the lawyers assisting Ms. Hill, asserts that Mr. Biden treated Mr. Thomas too even-handedly because of the racially charged nature of the hearings. (Remember Justice Thomas' charge that he had been subjected to a "high-tech lynching.") Ms. Ross said that Mr. Biden "was accused of being labeled racist, so the Republicans were blackmailing him and he pushed the levers to make the case look like there wasn't a case when there was." (Emphasis mine.)
So labeling Democrats racists to gain the political upperhand came from the Republican playbook.
Seems its still effective.