Remember Anita Hill?

I’d forgotten all about her until Kate Phillips, who, judging by her rhetoric, holds a grudge against older women, discussed it on the NYT’s Caucus blog. I was a teen at the time, but I followed along as best I could via nightly news and newspapers. I wasn’t able to catch it all live on C-Span, so the videos are truly astounding. Here’s the first one, the intro into Biden’s questioning of Thomas. Watch how he stumbles all over the opening, because he obviously doesn’t want to have to go through this, this sexism bullshit. He also basically calls Anita Hill a liar to Thomas’s face. If you aren’t outraged right now, you will be after viewing this:

Interestingly, I could find no YouTube videos of Anita Hills’ testimony, though I searched for them. If anyone can find one, I’d be much obliged if you would post it in comments.

One money quote from the Phillips article:

“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.

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.”

From not permitting other witnesses like Angela Wright to testify who would have been favorable to Ms. Hill, to not permitting affidavits from an expert on whether a pattern of behavior needed to be established to prove sexual harassment, Ms. Ross concluded: “He did everything to make it be good for Thomas and to slant it against her.” (Mr. Biden and his staff at times indicated that Ms. Wright and others weren’t willing to testify, but the record and books written since appear contradictory, as these women were held waiting in the wings for days.)

Bolding mine. How many times will we let them fail us on the court before we demand something different?

I was too young to figure this out at the time, but I would bet that Biden’s sudden decision to embrace his inner feminist in the early 1990s, and his compulsion to draft the Violence Against Women Act is directly related to fallout over the Anita Hill matter. He’d lost major support among women, rightfully so. So when they come touting–and they will–his record via the VAWA, you just remember that he was playing politics with that sure as he was playing politics with Hill and Thomas. He was sycophantically making up for major lack of judgment on his part. He’ll get no sympathy from me.

Bonus Video: Check out Arlen Specter vilifying Anita Hill. Transparent putz.

So much for light posting today, eh? I feel the excitement already. And I’m avoiding grading papers…..


4 comments on “Remember Anita Hill?

  1. glennmcgahee says:

    I’m old enough to remember every single word uttered in that hearing. It was the nastiest thing had ever seen in politics. Whats interesting is that Obama spoke about Clarence Thomas at the Saddleback Forum and how he wouldn’t have supported him. HA! Caroline didn’t do much vetting on these guy’s spoken words that will come back to haunt them both. I imagine that Biden’s son threatened to release Larry Sinclair onto the stage if his dad didn’t get the nod. To me, this brings Larry a little more attention.

  2. annabellep says:

    Thanks for the first-person account, glenn. I wish I’d been old enough to pay closer attention at the time. Watching some of those YouTube videos, I get, for the first time, what a demoralizing experience must’ve been for any woman watching, let alone Hill herself, as well as feminist-minded men.

  3. Lt. Ripley says:

    I remember watching the hearings on TV very closely. I was in high school at the time and was in the process of looking at prospective universities. I recall feeling outraged, humiliated and I told myself that I would need to be very tough out there to be the woman that broke those glass ceilings. After all, I wanted “to be a senator when I grew up.” Funny how it seems now, that I am “grown up”, and not quite a senator. Not, yet at least 😉

    Now 17 years later, it is apparent that the forces of sexism, misogyny, and corruption still barricade an astute senator as Hillary Clinton.

    This footage of the Clarence Thomas hearings sheds light on Biden’s views on women (it couples well with his recent condescending comment about his wife having a Ph.D). This choice in running mate will not help Obama’s standing with women. We remember Anita Hill!

  4. sharmajee says:

    Here is a link for the audio clip of her presentation, you can very clearly hear the strain and pain in her voice. What I vividly remember is how protective her young white male students were, as her escorts, in the immediate aftermath of her public coming out. Unfortunately, what most men remember in subsequent years was the silly line about pubic hair on a coke can.

    History Channel Audio

    TiP: It is listed under Audio>Famous Criminal Cases>Biden…

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