Dr. Jill Biden, wife of former vice president-turned-2020 presidential candiate Joe Biden, wants the Democrats to “move on” from her husband’s role in Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ 1991 confirmation hearing, and his handling of sexual harassment claims made against Thomas by law professor Anita Hill.
In an interview with NPR, Dr. Biden expressed a view very much at odds with mainstream Democrats, who are more concerned now than ever about sexual mores and ethics, in an apparent attempt to deflect criticism from her husband, who Democrats now say did not do enough to ensure Hill was heard and respected.
“I watched the hearings like most other Americans, and so I mean Joe said, as I did, we believed Anita Hill. He voted against Clarence Thomas,” Dr. Biden told NPR host Rachel Martin. “And as he has said, I mean he’s called Anita Hill, they’ve talked, they’ve spoken, and he said, you know, he feels badly. He apologized for the way the hearings were run. And so now it’s kind of — it’s time to move on.”
Martin followed up by asking Dr. Biden why her husband waited until right before he launched a presidential campaign to call Hill and apologize — something Joe Biden admitted to on ABC’s “The View.”
“Well, I guess it was just not the right time maybe,” Dr. Biden replied. “So, he wanted to call her. I think he didn’t know whether she would take his call, and he was so happy that he she did take his call, and they spoke. And I think he was, you know, I think they came to an agreement.”
Joe Biden called Anita Hill sometime in early April as he was preparing his entry into the 2020 Democratic primary. Biden claims that he “expressed regret” for the way Hill was treated by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Hill told The New York Times, in response, that she “declined to characterize his words to her as an apology” and urged female voters not to support Biden’s run.
Hill’s relationship with Joe Biden is likely to come up again and again across his campaign, and Biden clearly plans to be asked why he, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, didn’t stop Republican members from asking Hill personal questions and probing into why Hill didn’t report Thomas’ “suggestive” and “harassing” behavior to human resources at the time, and whether Hill had fabricated her story from whole cloth after being turned down by Thomas for a romantic relationship.
But Biden isn’t just under fire for what Republicans did; Democrats seem to believe that Biden abrogated his duty to protect Hill when he joined in questioning her. When Biden appeared on The View, host Joy Behar prodded him to apologize to Hill, to which Biden responded, “If you go back and look at what I said and didn’t say, I don’t think I treated her badly.”
Dr. Jill Biden also brushed aside questions of Biden’s personal behavior and whether his habit of being overly “affectionate” towards women should factor in to an assessment of his fitness to hold office.
“He connects with people. And I think that’s one of his strengths. And he heard [Lucy Flores] loud and clear, and he said he would take responsibility and he would you know honor people’s space,” she said, adding that Joe Biden’s whole family is strangely affectionate. “And now these are different times. Joe realizes these are different times. And believe me — he’s very conscious of, you know, how he interacts with men and women today.”
The same critics aren’t likely to be happy with Dr. Jill Biden telling them to “move on,” especially those who would prefer Biden lose the 2020 primary to someone further left.