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Joe Biden Is Sorry, Not Sorry For Making Women Uncomfortable

And yet, the former VP said he hadn’t apologized to Anita Hill because he didn’t want to “invade her personal space”

Former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden arrives at the Wilmington train station in Wilmington, Delaware. Biden announced his candidacy for president via video on Thursday morningElection 2020 Joe Biden, Wilmington, USA - 25 Apr 2019

Former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden arrives at the Wilmington train station in Wilmington, Delaware on April 25, 2019.

Matt Slocum/AP/REX/Shutterstock

During the many months Joe Biden spent deciding whether or not he was going to jump into the race for president — as his handling of Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings was reconsidered, as photos of him encroaching on various women’s personal space were dredged up and as several of those women stepped forward to say he’d made them physically uncomfortable — the same question hung awkwardly in the air. A lot had changed since the last time Biden ran for office — does he get that?

Joking that he’d gotten “permission” before putting his arm around a young boy at a public appearance in early April, Biden seemed to answer the question pretty decisively: he did not get it. Since officially declaring his candidacy for the Democratic nomination on Thursday, he’s confirmed it.

The former vice president wasted no time making it known that he has apologized to Anita Hill for bungling Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearing back in 1992. Hours after he entered the race, Biden’s camp announced he’d reached out to Hill through an intermediary to express “his regret for what she endured.” It wasn’t an apology, Hill told the New York Times Thursday, adding that the call left her deeply unsatisfied. “I will be satisfied when I know there is real change and real accountability and real purpose,” she told the paper.

Undeterred, Biden continued his Not-An-Apology tour on Friday with an appearance on The View. Asked if he was prepared to apologize to the women who had come forward to say he had made them uncomfortable, he made it clear that he was not sorry for his behavior, only sorry for their misinterpretation of his good-natured gesture. “Well, look: I’m really sorry if they — what I did in talking to them, and trying to console — that, in fact, they took it a different way.” Pushed, Biden doubled down: “I’m sorry this happened, but I’m not sorry in the sense that I think I did anything that was intentionally designed to do anything wrong or be inappropriate.”

As for Anita Hill? Biden told the View hosts, without a shred of irony, that the reason he had waited 27 years, 9 months, and 25 days (give or take) to reach out to Hill was because he “didn’t want to invade her space.”

“I’m sorry she was treated the way she was treated,” said Biden, who, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee had broad authority over how the hearing was conducted. “I wish we could have figured out a better way to get this thing done. I did everything in my power to do what I thought was within the rules to try and stop things.”

All of this might be by design. As The Atlantic’s Edward-Isaac Dovere tweeted, “There is a sense among some within the Biden orbit that if he starts apologizing — for Anita Hill, for the women who felt uncomfortable with how he touched them, for anything else — that it will open up the floodgates and he’ll never be able to stop apologizing.”

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