Former Vice President Joe Biden condemned “a white man’s culture” Tuesday night as he lashed out against violence against women and, more specifically, lamented his role in the Supreme Court confirmation hearings that undermined Anita Hill’s credibility nearly three decades ago.
Biden, a Democratic presidential prospect who often highlights his white working-class roots, said Hill, who is African-American, should not have been forced to face a panel of “a bunch of white guys.”
“To this day I regret I couldn’t come up with a way to give her the kind of hearing she deserved,” he said, echoing comments he delivered last fall as the nation debated sexual misconduct allegations against Brett Kavanaugh amid his Supreme Court confirmation hearing.
Later in his Tuesday remarks, Biden called on Americans to “change the culture” that dates back centuries and allows pervasive violence against women. “It’s an English jurisprudential culture, a white man’s culture. It’s got to change,” Biden said.
The 76-year-old Democrat delivered the remarks at a New York City event honoring young people who helped combat sexual assault on college campuses. The event, held at a venue called the Russian Tea Room, was hosted by the Biden Foundation and the nonprofit group It’s on Us, which Biden founded with former President Barack Obama in 2014.
Biden is perhaps the last high-profile Democrat who has yet to announce his or her 2020 intentions. He has a small team of political operatives laying the groundwork for a run, but he has acknowledged publicly in recent weeks that his entrance in the presidential race is no sure thing.
Biden’s role in the 1991 Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings are among his many political challenges as he weighs his place in today’s Democratic Party. Should he run, he would be among a handful of white men in a Democratic presidential field that features several women and minorities.
In remarks that were rambling at times and spanned more than a half hour, Biden repeatedly denounced violence against women. It’s a topic Biden knows well. As a senator, he introduced the Violence Against Women’s Act in 1990.
“No man has a right to lay a hand on a woman no matter what she’s wearing, she does, who she is, unless it’s in self-defense. Never,” he said Tuesday.
He then shared a conversation he had with a member of a college fraternity.
“If you see a brother taking an inebriated co-ed up the stairs at a fraternity house and you don’t go and stop it, you’re a damn coward,” Biden said. “You don’t deserve to be called a man.”