Biden: Too ‘handsy’ to be president?
Before last week, all the polls said former Vice President Joe Biden was the Democrat “with the best chance of beating President Trump” in 2020, said Kyle Smith in NationalReview.com. But now it’s very likely that “Joe Biden is done.” Last week, Lucy Flores, a former Democratic candidate in Nevada who supported Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2016, published an essay recounting how the then–vice president came up behind her at a 2014 campaign event, grabbed her shoulders, smelled her hair, and planted a “big slow kiss” on her head. Biden’s “handsy behavior with women” is the stuff of Washington legend, with plenty of photographic evidence. But in the #MeToo era, Flores’ first-person account of what it’s like to have “Creepy Joe sneak up behind you” surely dooms his presidential hopes. After three other women told similar stories, Biden responded with a carefully worded “damage-control statement,” said Sydney Ember in The New York Times. He admitted to touching countless men and women “to make a human connection’’ over his political career, but said that he will now respect the reset “social norms’’ on personal boundaries. If Biden goes ahead with his planned run, the Democratic primary season will be dominated by an “extended reckoning about Biden and gender.”
“Joe Biden needs to cut it out,” said Karen Tumulty in The Washington Post, but “so does the mob that is after him.” Biden does indeed have “a long history of putting his hands all over pretty much anyone who comes within reach”—men, women, children, friends, complete strangers—but this sudden insistence that his touchy-feely brand of politics disqualifies him from office is ridiculous. Women have every right to object to “unwanted physical contact,” but “not every offense is of equal severity.” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway had the gall to call Biden’s behavior a “big problem”—when her boss is on videotape bragging of grabbing women by the genitals. If Biden runs for president, “the question will not be whether his hands are in the right place, but whether his heart is.’’
Neither are in the right place, said Rebecca Traister in NYMag.com. The same “old-fashioned paternalism” that makes Biden think every woman’s body is “his to smell and squeeze and kiss” has also shaped his political views. His record defending abortion rights is decidedly mixed, and no woman who watched the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings will ever forget Biden’s “horrifying failure” as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee to protect Anita Hill from “grotesque” Republican abuse. “Even if Biden was more oblivious than predatory” in his handsiness, said Michelle Goldberg in The New York Times, why should Democrats choose a nominee who has to keep apologizing for both his handsiness and his backward policy history? Biden “is a product of his time, but that time is up.”
Maybe it’s just a coincidence, said Jim Geraghty in NationalReview.com, but the progressives calling for Biden to step aside are the same people who think the Democrats should nominate a woman, a person of color, or the far-left Bernie Sanders. Their real objection is to Biden’s centrism and lack of “woke credentials.” But the “woke elite” may have launched their transparent attack too soon, said Warren Henry in TheFederalist.com. In the “incredible shrinking news cycle” that governs modern politics, the allegations against Biden will quickly fade, especially if he refuses to be cowed. “Riding out the storm often works.” ■