Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Biden criticizes Princeton (in January 2006)

Princeton might not be a hot topic during the confirmation hearings for Sonia Sotomayor '76, but it was getting a lot of play during the hearings of Sam Alito '72 in January 2006.

During his round of questioning on Jan. 11, then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) decided to tell the world that he "wasn't a big Princeton fan."

"I didn't even like Princeton," he said, to laughter from the gallery. "I mean, I really didn't like Princeton. I was an Irish Catholic kid who thought it had not changed like you concluded it had," referring to an earlier statement by Alito that the University had changed its traditional ways before he got there.

Those comments were basically opposite of what Biden said when he gave a speech at the Wilson School in 2004.

"It's an honor to be here," he said at the time. "It would have been an even greater honor to have come here."

There was more...

At the 2006 hearing: "One of my real dilemmas is I have two kids who went to Ivy League schools. I'm not sure my Grandfather Finnegan will ever forgive me for allowing that to happen."

In the 2004 speech: "I have three children who have mercifully all finally completed undergraduate and graduate school. And I tried to get all three of them to apply here."

But since they didn't, he said he was "counting on his grandchildren."

After Biden's original comments caused some controversy, he arrived at the hearings the next day and announced he wanted to "set the record straight."

Donning a Princeton baseball cap, Biden said he was proud to wear it -- "after being on campus as much as I have at Princeton" -- because minorities represented 28.7 percent of the Class of 2005 and women made up 47 percent.

But there was one more zing: "A pretty widely known debate that in the Ivies, the one, sort of, last holdout, fighting to not admit as many women and fighting not to admit as many minorities, was Princeton."