- Such a declaration will divert the national debate over systemic racism roiling the country to a more constructive plane and thwart Trump’s effort to frame it as a law and order issue.
With over 40 years in public life, Joseph R. Biden is the very embodiment of the Washington Establishment. His survival and success over those decades depended on his ability to go with the ebb and flow of political currents. While most of his political evolution has comfortably crested with a majority of Democrats, one that still rankles the African American constituency is Biden’s stand on issues related to race. That’s the reason why his presidential campaign was stunned and rattled by Sen. Kamala Harris’ “bussing” attack during the first primary debate. It exposed his Delawarian ambivalence that is steeped in history. Biden weathered the seemingly crippling gut punch only after his Black counterparts in the “Establishment” gallantly came to his rescue.
It is not surprising therefore that the young progressive faction of the Democratic Party still views him with weariness if not suspicion. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez couldn’t have been more honest when she said, “in any other country, Joe Biden and I would not be in the same party.” While there are a host of issues on which Biden and the progressives will spar, there is a way the Democratic nominee can wipe clean not only his checkered past on issues of race, but also gender, where he can be equally vulnerable (not including the eerily avuncular sniffing). He has not only an opportunity to make history, but also redress a grievous wound he had inflicted on the body politic when as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee he cleared the way to the confirmation of the odious Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Biden could declare his intent to nominate Anita Hill, a professor of social policy, law and women’s studies at Brandeis University, to the Supreme Court. Yes, it will be poetic justice to elevate Hill to the bench, considering that it was Biden who had sacrificed her at the altar of the high court 30 years ago, when she testified to sexual harassment by Clarence Thomas. Hill was summoned by the Senate committee after a report of a private interview of Hill by the FBI was leaked to the press in which she alleged that Thomas had sexually harassed her while he was her supervisor at the Department of Education and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Biden had allowed, in the words of the New York Times, an all-white, all-male Judiciary Committee members to grill, in excruciatingly graphic detail, a young and reluctant witness who had worked for Thomas. Last year, after Biden announced his presidential run, Hill told the Times, “she cannot support Biden for president until he takes full responsibility for his conduct, including his failure to call as corroborating witnesses other women who were willing to testify before the Judiciary Committee. By leaving them out, she said, Biden created a “he said, she said” situation that did not have to exist.” According to news reports then, four witnesses against Thomas were not called to testify after the Senate Republicans struck a deal with Biden.
Making a pledge to nominate Hill at this stage of his presidential campaign will be a win-win for Biden on a host of fronts — just as such a move served candidate Trump very well in 2016 when he revealed a list of potential conservative nominees, to win over the skeptical evangelicals and conservatives.
First, there is already a ground-swell support for appointing a Black woman to the Supreme Court and Anita Hill is immensely qualified for the job. Second, a commitment to Hill’s nomination will not only mobilize Black women to head to the polls (more so than Harris’ nomination) but also rally the suburban and working white women who always viewed the Anita Hill episode as an ugly exposé of patriarchy. Third, the nomination of Hill will constitute a symbolic redemption of the Supreme Court that has now two Justices tainted by accusations of sexual harassment. Fourth, naming his Supreme Court nominee in advance is the best way to rally the restive progressives who are desperately looking for a firm branch to hang their support on. Fifth, such a pledge will also help Biden divert the national debate over systemic racism roiling the country to a more constructive plane rather than get stuck with Trump’s effort to frame it as a law and order issue.
Sunil Adam is the editor and publisher of americankahani.com.