Biden supported the 1994 crime bill!


So did several others:
Should Joe Biden run for president?

As a general matter, it seems to us that Biden's a bit old for that particular challenge. The same would be true of Bernie Sanders, of course.

That said, Biden's getting batted around for aspects of his personal conduct. This has triggered complaints about past policy positions. Alex Wagner provides a drive-by nod to this point in the Atlantic:
WAGNER (4/3/19): In the current presidential race, Biden’s inclination toward physical contact, more than his embrace of Democratic centrism or conservative Supreme Court nominees, is his radiocarbon date: the thing that fixes his age most precisely, that tags him as a creature from another era. This is not to say that Biden won’t have to continue explaining his support for the 1994 crime bill and his role in the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, but the recent accounts of the former vice president’s penchant for head kissing and nose rubbing have raised the most serious questions to date about Biden’s disconnectedness from these times.
That 1994 crime bill! Like Freddy Krueger, it's back!

In the last White House campaign, Hillary Clinton was battered around about that particular bill. Also, she'd spoken a certain word one time! This helps explain why a dangerous, disordered fellow now sits in the White House.

Speaking of disorder, it seems to us that the 1994 crime bill is being put to use again absent some basic context. Biden was a supporter, it's true. But so were many others, including 26 of the 38 members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

In the Senate, Biden wasn't the only member who supported the bill. So did California's two senators—Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein—along with both Massachusetts senators—John Kerry and Ted Kennedy.

Senator Wellstone supported the bill. So did Senator Moseley Braun, the only black senator at that time.

In the House, a pair of reps named Pelosi and Schumer each supported the bill. So did a relatively unknown fellow from Vermont, that self-same Bernie Sanders.

Our own congressman, the srtimable Kweisi Mfume, supported the bill, then became head of the NAACP. In 2006, he lost a senate primary race to his friend, the estimable Rep. Cardin, who had also supported the bill.

Why did people support the bill? For one discussion from the last campaign, you can just click this.

"Simplify, simplify," Thoreau once said. In our nation's political discussions, we sometimes tend to over-extend and over-apply this good sound advice.

"Purify, purify," we rational animals are strongly inclined to think we heard Thoreau say. That's especially true at times like these—at times of "cultural revolution," at times when legions of impure people are being frog-marched away.

What was the right vote in 1994? We can't tell you that. But the simplistic discussions of 2016 helped put Trump where he is.

During that dim-witted campaign, how many simplistic complaints about that bill came from Vladimir Putin himself? Once again, we can't exactly say.

As a general matter, it seems to us that Biden's too old. Will we ever decide that the same is true about these tired discussions?


  1. “his embrace of Democratic centrism or conservative Supreme Court nominees”

    Rightly or wrongly, that is a legitimate reason for some liberals/progressives to feel disinclined to vote for Biden. As it was to prefer Bernie over Hillary, or Nader over Gore.

    Aside from the media and/or some liberals in the media voicing these criticisms, it is a real disagreement amongst actual Democratic and progressive voters.

    Perhaps Somerby is saying these kinds of things shouldn’t matter to liberals, (or perhaps not.)

    But why is Biden too old for Somerby? Because he represents a more centrist/conservative wing of the party?

  2. "This helps explain why a dangerous, disordered fellow now sits in the White House."

    No, it doesn't. No single position on any issue helped or hurt Hillary Clinton sufficiently to affect the outcome of the election. As has been demonstrated statistically by Nate Silver at 538, the election turned on Comey's announcement just before the voting. There was an immediate, large swing in her polling right resulting from Comey's statement. Other factors affecting the vote were the Russian meddling in Wisconsin, Michigan and PA, and the social media campaign to depress support for Clinton among key demographics who then went for third party candidates in sufficient numbers to lose her those three states critical to Trump's electoral college victory. Somerby would know this if he read (1) Nate Silver, (2) Hillary Clinton's own post-election analysis, "What Happened," or any competent analysis by a credible pundit. We will also know this once the Mueller report is released to the public.

    Somerby needs to stop asserting without evidence that her statements with which he disagrees were the source of her downfall. That is a just a tired lie.

    Another lie occurs in this article. Somerby pretends that Biden simply supported the crime bill, along with a long list of other liberals. Actually, as Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he helped put together the bill and he encouraged all those other people to support it. He wasn't just one of the many people who voted for it. He helped to create it and was responsible for its content. So he bears special responsibility, as Clinton did for her husband's support for it as president.

    Notice that Somerby changes the subject from Biden's handsy treatment of women and children to his legislative record. Biden's record is important, but his treatment of women is far from a "tired discussion" given that he has shown only half-hearted support for choice and threw Anita Hill under the bus and doesn't seem to understand what he did wrong with his nuzzling and stroking of people without their consent. We need to have this discussion, because Biden represents a lot of older men who think that if they mean well there cannot be anything wrong with what they do to women and girls.

    Biden says he will listen. Somerby doesn't even do that. Neither does Bernie. Beto is busy putting his wife on a pedestal. These guys aren't getting this right, and they need to if they are going to mobilize the women who are sick and tired of being told their issues are part of a "tired discussion."

    1. You're misreading the Nate Silver article. Baldly. Massively.

      It's not surprising.

    2. @5:38
      Tell us what you think Nate Silver’s “article” said.

    3. Not @5:38

      Silver didn't comment on the "other factors". Maybe he is confused because I failed to signal that I was switching from talking about Silver (who noted Comey's influence) and talking about other impacts noted by other people when I said "other factors". Silver definitely showed the impact of Comey on polling and compared it to the negligible impact of other things suggested as reasons for Clinton's loss. Russia's campaign against Clinton has been discussed elsewhere.

    4. "Silver definitely showed the impact of Comey on polling and compared it to the negligible impact of other things suggested as reasons for Clinton's loss.'

      He did nothing of the sort. Please back that up with a quote. Please show me where he compared it to "the negligible impact of other things suggested as reasons for Clinton's loss."

      Good God, you people are a lost cause.

    5. "No single position on any issue helped or hurt Hillary Clinton sufficiently to affect the outcome of the election."

      How could you make a claim as utterly daft as that? Read that again, what you wrote. Think for a minute about how utterly idiotic that claim is

    6. Silver said this about "other factors" when referring to the Comey announcement.

      "Other factors may have played a larger role in her defeat, and it’s up to Democrats to examine those as they choose their strategy for 2018 and 2020.'

      The other factors he is speaking about are Clinton's inferior strategy, message and team. (See the link to which he posts.)

      it's important to remember what Comey did and hopefully get answers about it at some time because it did have an impact but you must stop being so God damn foolish. You can't even fucking read. You can't let Comey's strange announcement which did have a big impact take the blame for a incredibly poor run, poorly messaged campaign from a dying party totally out of touch with Americans.

      And silver and Somerby are both criticizing the media's reckless gosspping. "If Comey’s letter altered the outcome of the election, the media may have some responsibility for the result. The story dominated news coverage for the better part of a week"

      Silver also says "Clinton was in a danger zone before Comey’s letter" and "I think there’s a decent case that some of the decline in Clinton’s numbers reflected reversion to the mean and was bound to happen anyway."

      Now, you are retarded. You are a total dumb fuck.

      It's true it did have an impact and it's very strange and it should be investigated. But you have to pull your head out of your ass. your party has to look in the mirror and stop blaming outside forces for what is completely self-inflicted loss. It's natural what you're doing. People who can't take a hard look at themselves, especially when they lose.

      Try to be less dumb. Just try for like 10 seconds.

    7. "the Russian meddling in Wisconsin, Michigan and PA". There is zero, absolutely no proof that Russians had any effect on the elections in those states or the election in general dipshit

    8. Let's be very clear - you are a total retard.

    9. Silver makes a statement and then he goes through an on-the-other-hand evaluation to cover his ass. Remember that he got this one wrong and that Clinton won the popular vote by 2.9 million. That doesn't suggest regression to the mean. She had overcome her gaffes and other troubles and was going into the election with a lead.

      Silver's reference to different strategy for dems is next time don't back a woman nominee, even if she wins the nomination.

      You can call me retard a dozen more times and it won't make you right.

      If you actually looked up those quotes, you don't need me to tell you what else Silver said. Clinton quotes Silver too.

      When we see the Mueller report maybe you'll believe Stone fixed WI, MI, and PA by having Russians suppress voting by disaffected progressives who stayed home or voted for Jill Stein. Or read Corn & Isikoff's book.

    10. @10:28 Another commenter who uses psychiatric terms as insults. Keep it classy. No need to imitate Trump's tweet storming. Why do his supporters pick his worst qualities to copy? Because he has no good ones.

    11. Dear, if you think that "retard" is a psychiatric term, then you definitely are retarded.

    12. 12:30 - You are retarded and probably gay. And you probably should go fuck your mother this weekend. You are an intellectual lost cause.

      Notice these claims you made are wrong and you could not back them up:

      1. "No single position on any issue helped or hurt Hillary Clinton sufficiently to affect the outcome of the election." (One of the stupidest statements ever made.)

      2. "Silver definitely showed the impact of Comey on polling and compared it to the negligible impact of other things suggested as reasons for Clinton's loss.'

      3. Russian meddling in Wisconsin, Michigan and PA was a factor in Clinton's bumbling, detached, losing campaign.

      Comey's letter made an impact but it doesn't excuse her mistakes. She lost the election to Donald Trump. She was the worst and most out of touch candidate imaginable. And she wrote a book about it blaming everyone else. It is not anyone's fault but hers! You should try to own up to it because it would make you stronger but you are too stupid. Somerby says it over and over again for years. Liberals are just not smart. And that is true. Now more than ever. Progressives don’t understand conservatives the way conservatives understand progressives. And that is why you will continue to lose. You don't listen. You're dumber. The conservative hears the progressive’s latest demands and says, “I can see how you might come to that conclusion, but I think you’ve overlooked the following…” In contrast, the progressive hears the conservative and thinks, “I have no idea why you would believe that. You’re probably a racist.” Like your post here. Idiotic. And you couldn't even back up you claims.

      You can't read.

      You're a child.

    13. Her book doesn't blame everyone else.

      Retard refers to people with developmental disorders (new term required because retard became derogatory). It is short for mental retardation which is a psychiatric term referring to levels of low IQ, grouped as moderate, severe and profound. That you don't know this and consider it just another insult is pretty typical of the way people casually use psychiatric diagnoses to malign others. This stigmatizes people who actually have such diagnoses and is unfair to them when the behavior encompassed by the insult bears no resemblance to that of people with the diagnosis.

      But you don't care about that, since you don't seem to be able to argue anything without shouting insults at other people.

      If you behaved like the conservative who listens to others, you might have read Clinton's book to see how she explains her own loss. Then you would know that she acknowledges her mistakes as well as noting the way the election was manipulated against her by Comey, illegal hacking and use of stolen material, an ongoing unjustified email investigation, social media interference by Russians, Bernie's bros, and so on. None of that is typical campaigning and it has nothing to do with her own words or choices during her campaign.

    14. "If you behaved like the conservative who listens to others, you might have read Clinton's book to see how she explains her own loss. "

      I'm not conservative. I'm progressive. I voted for Clinton. And you still can not back up any of your stupid claims. I did read Clinton's book. It was an embarrassing buck passing meant to further sucker gullible fools like yourself.

    15. "But you don't seem to be able to argue anything" Umn - yes I have. I have argued and defeated you. You can't back up your retarded claims. Silver did not definitely show the impact of Comey on polling and compare it to the negligible impact of other things suggested as reasons for Clinton's loss. Dummy.

    16. "None of that is typical campaigning" Yes, compared to all those lovely, fair, dirt free elections of the past. You're a child. You don't don't know anything of history.

    17. Comey, Russia, economic anxiety, a rigged economy, etc.
      They're all excuses just lame excuses for why Trump won the election.
      Or, in the words of the mainstream media and Republicans (but I repeat myself), "We have no idea how Trump won, but we are sure it had nothing to do with his bigotry."

      BTW, it was Trump's bigotry.

    18. Who could argue with that well reasoned argument?

    19. 1:35,
      No one. There is WAY MORE reasoning that it was Trump's bigotry than any of the other excuses.

    20. Yet Trump voters didn't make a peep when Trump handed the economy to Wall Street.
      Yeah, they'd probably just shrug their shoulders if Trump comes out in support for reparations for slavery too. LOL

      Dear Bob,
      You need a better class of trolls.

    21. "Yet Trump voters didn't make a peep when Trump handed the economy to Wall Street." That doesn't make them racists! You're an idiot child. Keep playing the race card though. You'll see. Dumb fuck. Why tell Bob that? He has said the same thing for years! Playing the race card is a gargantuan mistake. You're the fucking troll.

  3. Here is an oddity. Somerby pretends that purity results in Democrats losing because criticism from the left put Trump into office. Then he turns around and support Bernie and AOC, both of whom are part of the purity-wing, the progressives who won't vote for a bill if it is imperfect on the issues they champion, no matter how much other good it contains. AOC is already voting like Bernie, the lone voice holding out for a perfect bill and winding up voting with the Republicans in opposition to things nearly all Democrats vote for.

    I read an article somewhere last week that said the immediate voices rising in criticism of the various female candidates, attacking Kamala Harris for being too much of a cop, attacking Klobuchar for being mean to her staff, attacking Warren for her tiny dna, and so on, are actually Bernie supporters who subsequently flocked to him with the announcement of his own campaign. I don't know whether that is true or not, since I do not follow insider political gossip, but it sounds like how the bros operated in 2015-16. This isn't just about purity but also about interfering with opponents at early stages in their campaigns.

    A discussion that never really happened last time should focus on the ethics of Bernie's "anything goes" tolerance of bad behavior by his supporters. He kept regarding it as youthful enthusiasm but a lot of this stuff is ratfucking and a real candidate would not only be aware of it but control it, since it can and does reflect badly on the candidate -- unless the opposition is a woman who must not and cannot be allowed to win because she is a girl. I am hoping Bernie will be called on his shit this time.

    A good start -- how much of his 18 million in anonymous small donations has actually come from inappropriate sources (Russia, NRA)? Bernie didn't care in 2015-16. If he doesn't care now, he won't pass any purity test I care about.

    "Mr. Sanders received almost 900,000 contributions from 525,000 individual donors, his campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, said. The average donation was $20, compared with $27 in Mr. Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign, he said.

    Mr. Shakir said that a majority of Mr. Sanders’s donors were under the age of 39, and that 20 percent of all donors had not contributed to Mr. Sanders’s previous campaigns. He said that 88 percent of the total money raised came from donors giving $200 or less." (NYTimes, 4/02)

  4. "Should Joe Biden run for president?"

    Why, he sure should. The old psycho-witch did, and she almost won! Thank god she didn't. But creepy Joe is just as corrupt, and probably a psycho too, so all is well.

  5. This seems pretty simple: discussions of candidates casting yes votes for the Crime Bill are uniformly stupid, showing the same incapacity for intelligent discussion that leads to . . . MSNBC running chyrons that "Mueller Report Finds No Collusion" under discussions of a letter by Barr (you can generate your own similar examples). If Somerby returns to Platonic themes, I hope he takes up the Phaedrus: we need a rhetoric of truth. Absent intelligent discussion of issues, something other than intelligence will guide electoral (and policy) outcomes. Surely TDH is right about this main point.

    1. The discussions of (and opposition to) the crime bill were not limited to TV. Some Real American liberals/progressives have these concerns as well. And not *everyone* is saying the votes are stupid.

      And your notion that MSNBC (!) is the network saying “Mueller report finds no collusion”, we would have to say you haven’t been watching MSNBC. Remember a long time ago last week when BOB SOMERBY criticized Rachel for her continuing coverage of the Mueller Report and refusing to give up on collusion? You must have MSNBC mixed up with Fox. There is a constant demand on MSNBC to see the report and they constantly make the distinction between the Barr letter and the Mueller report.

    2. The discussions of the crime bill were important because of the recency of BLM and Ferguson. Both Hillary and Bernie were closely questioned about how they would address policing and the black community. That was partly why Clinton attracted so much of the black vote despite her husband's role in passing the crime bill.

      That discussion is not "tired" because the black community will again be interested in how Biden would address concerns about shooting of unarmed black people, which are still occurring. If he cannot come up with a convincing program and good answers to such concerns, he will be unable to attract black voters, much as Bernie was unable to do so.

      It is way too soon to declare these issues "tired" when they haven't been addressed at all, much less improved. Biden must account for his miserable Choice voting record. He will need to actually apologize TO Anita Hill, not just about her. He needs to express some remorse for laying hands on so many women and children without their permission. Kids and women are not objects. They are people. He still hasn't apologized beyond the "I'm sorry if you were upset" kind of answer. It won't do.

      The fact that the media considers him a front-runner despite so many serious problems that are concerning a large segment of the left is troubling too. Do they not recognize that these are serious issues? Somerby doesn't seem to, but as I have noted here many times, he has problems with women himself. He probably thinks it is OK for Biden to sniff hair if the girl's mama says it is OK. When you watch those composite videos, notice the efforts of the parents to protect their kids but their unwillingness to embarrass the Vice President of the United States. It would be wrong to make this man President, just as it is wrong for Trump to be President, and that will be a liability during the election.

      It is Somerby who is tired of this discussion. Why?

    3. @6:41pm: I take your point about Crime Bill discussions not on TV; I should have been more careful to limit my judgment to media discussions. But as for MSNBC, I was watching the chyron with my own eyes. It took well over a day for the network to get wise to the fact that Barr was gaming them.

      @7:09pm: I take your point about the importance of discussing the Crime Bill in light of Ferguson and BLM (I agree that it's not tired); that makes it all the more important that the discussion should be as factual and non-ideological as possible.

      As for Biden, he's the front-runner because he hasn't joined the race. The negative coverage has already started. Nowhere to go but down. Crazy to think of running the man in charge of the Thomas-Hill show in this cycle: women are the key.

    4. The media considers Biden a front-runner based on polls, it's not an opinion pulled out of thin air. Americans consider him a front runner. I hope Kamala Harris can emerge strong. People liked Bernie because he, like Trump, addressed the consequences of the development of a "dual economy" in America. (The very rich and rapidly shrinking middle classes, low-skilled workers who are suffering the ills of globalization in its various aspects.) All candidates will have to address this issue front and center in order to win.

      Though some Democrats try to sugarcoat the dismal facts by focusing on changes
      since 2009, when the President assumed office, the truth is that the fruits of the
      recovery have gone lopsidedly to the very richest Americans. Wall Street and the
      stock market boom, but wages continue to stagnate, and unemployment remains
      stubbornly high…The administration’s continuing efforts to court Wall Street,
      along with its reluctance to sanction even flagrant misconduct by prominent
      financiers just pour salt into these wounds….2014 suggests that the Democrats’
      ability to retain any mass constituency at all may now be in question. The facts of
      globalization, top-heavy income inequality, and the worldwide tendency toward
      austerity may just be too much for a party that is essentially dominated by
      segments of the 1 percent but whose legacy appeal is to average
      Americans…Right now Hillary Clinton’s strategists appear to be pinning their
      hopes on firing up another ritualized big money-led coalition of minorities and
      particular groups instead of making broad economic appeals. That hope might
      perhaps prove out, if the slow and very modest economic recovery continues into
      2016, or the Republicans nominate another Richie Rich caricature like Mitt
      Romney, who openly mocks the poorest 47% of the electorate. But exit surveys
      showed that in 2014 many women voters thought economic recovery and jobs
      were top issues, too (Burnham and Ferguson, 2014).

  6. It should matter that the 1994 Crime Bill actually worked. Crime decreased a great deal. This bill was particularly valuable to black Americans, since blacks are disproportionately victims of crime.

    1. I hate to agree with you David, because usually you are fucking awful. But it is true that African-American community leaders overwhelmingly supported the i994 "tough on crime" bill. Because it was their communities affected the most by crime and violence.

      I grew up in the Bronx in the 70s. I know how that fear alone of crime and violence can affect communities. It's a terrible sort of despair when when you're afraid to walk in the park, afraid to go anywhere. Crime has an outsize effect, it affects communities and makes good people afraid. It's terrible.

      Joe Biden really has incredibly high ratings with African-Americans. This is not just because he was Obama's VP for 8 years. He has an authenticity that they like, he's an unpretentious guy who never got too big for his britches. And he never stepped on Obama to promote himself, at all.

      Oh, let's talk about Anita Hill. It will really shock and surprise tons of people at Jezebel and the like to know and realize Anita Hill is alive and well, thriving as a champion of rights for women and bringing up sexual harrassment as a cultural issue. She is universally lauded for this, she makes $100,000 for a speech (okay maybe less in other cases), Anita Hill is doing FINE. Thriving and excelling and not broke.

      BUT if you read the commenters at Jezebel, you would think that Joe Biden raped Anita Hill, silenced her forever , and sent her half dead body out to sea on an ice floe. Young women on Jezebel really seem to believe this. Even in reality, Clarence Thomas only talked dirty to her. She was brave and right to oppose Thomas's nomination because he's an awful ignorant dolt who shouldn't be on the Supreme Court, but he never touched her, or anyone.

      Don't know where to go with this, left or right there's a lot of excited idiocy in the air. Shit needs to calm down.

    2. It is hard to argue where Anita Hill might have wound up without the nationwide negative exposure during the Clarence Thomas hearings. Biden allowed the attacks on her character mounted to preserve Thomas's reputation. But his worst act was to suppress the testimony of 18 other women who were ready to testify in corroboration of Anita Hill. There were other women who had similar experiences with Clarence Thomas, independent of Hill, and also women who could support the factual truth of her testimony. They never got a chance because Biden terminated that portion of the hearing. This is closely similar to the way Republicans limited the Kavanaugh hearing and did not give a full chance to determine the truth of accusations by women against him.

      So, Biden is responsible for putting Clarence Thomas on the supreme court. It is possible to calculate the damage that has done, through every close conservative victory he was part of over many years. There is also the opportunity cost involved because some more qualified justice could have served in his place.

      Mocking women at Jezebel cannot rehabilitate Biden. He participated fully and holds responsibility for the failure to consider women's complaints against Clarence Thomas, which allowed him to join our highest court when he was not fit to do so. That is on Biden and according to Anita Hill, he has never apologized to her for his participation in that, although he has stated publicly that he is sorry for what happened. This is similar to today's complaints against him. He is manifestly not willing to apologize for the way he has treated women and girls physically over the years. He says he is listening and that he gets it, but he doesn't seem to be able to actually apologize, and he doesn't seem to think he did anything wrong by grabbing, nuzzling, touching and hugging women who NEVER ASKED FOR, NEEDED OR WANTED such physical moral support. Because he was Vice President, no one complained, although plenty have tried to get away and squirmed in discomfort -- watch the compilation videos, especially of children. That is an abuse of power and you don't elect someone to a higher office when he has abused the one he has to satisfy his personal needs (whether to protect women who don't need it, or to gratify something personal about contact and connection that comes from his psyche).

      Men need to stop touching women without permission, especially in work situations, when the touching is not wanted and causes women to be put at a disadvantage while they are trying to participate on an equal basis and do something important to them. It is a covert way of undermining their performance without taking responsibility for interfering with them. It needs to stop and it can and should stop with Biden.

      The young women at Jezebel are angrier than others on the internet, but there isn't a woman on this planet who doesn't understand this point. They mainly differ on how this should affect Biden's chances if he runs for office.

      Anita Hill's current career is irrelevant to this.

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