No thank u, next! Why Ex-VP Joe Biden should stay an ex

Category:  Opinions
Thursday, April 11th, 2019 at 8:43 AM

When you Google image search the term, “creepy uncle Joe,” the results yield dozens of pictures and memes of none other than former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. 

Although these pictures have accumulated from multiple events over the years, they show a pattern of inappropriate behavior that is altogether undeniable. Since Biden has announced his interest in running for president in 2020, these pictures have started a conversation on whether his unfortunate behavior forfeits him from a chance at the presidency.  

Biden has been accused of inappropriate touching by seven women now. The first was former Nevada lieutenant governor nominee, Lucy Flores (D) — then former U.S. Congressional Aide Amy Lappos, writer DJ Hill, sexual assault survivor Caitlyn Caruso, former-Democratic staffer Ally Coll, advocate for women’s rights Sofie Karasek, and former White House intern in 2013, Vail Kohnert-Yount. These accounts outline being made uncomfortable by the former VP through lengthy hugs, forehead touches, and grabbing of the thigh, head and shoulders. 

Although none of these actions actually fall under the definition of sexual assault, they would be deemed nonetheless inappropriate and unwelcome in pretty much any professional work environment. Speaking of which, the book “The First Family Detail” by Ronald Kessler, released in 2014, describes how Biden likes to swim nude in front of female secret service members, which they find “offensive.” According to the Secret Service agents, the only worse assignment is Hillary Clinton. This was discussed in a few articles, but the one that caught my attention was titled “In Defense of Naked Joe Biden” from The Atlantic. 

 While the accusations of groping are getting plenty of media attention, there has been a lack of commentary on the way he also touches children ­— specifically girls. There are compilations lasting anywhere from three to seven minutes, featuring Biden grabbing shoulders, petting hair and kissing young girls’ heads during Congressional swearing-ins. The behavior is written off as friendly, but let’s face it: touching, let alone kissing other people’s children, especially who you have not met before, is weird and not okay.  

Even more shocking is the backup and excuses by members of both Republican and Democratic parties. The Democratic party championed the efforts against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, when he was accused of rape over 30 years ago by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. The Dems used the full force of the #MeToo movement to justify an ousting of Kavanaugh, yet when a champion of their own party is accused of sexual misconduct, they turn the other cheek and excuse the behavior. Although it may seem like a joke, MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski staunchly defended him on April 1, saying, “There’s a lot of things I know about Joe Biden — I’ve known him for a long time — he is extremely affectionate, extremely flirtatious in a completely safe way.” 

However, “flirtatious” behavior isn’t even acceptable in a professional work environment to begin with, so why is it suddenly excusable when it comes to a vice president? 

Similarly, many Republicans, specifically elder, male Republicans, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham and Iowa Rep. Steve King, have come to the defense of Biden, claiming that Biden is “just an affectionate guy.” Even The Washington Post ran an article coming to the defense of Biden, titled “Joe Biden’s affectionate, physical style with women comes under scrutiny.” 

But with more and more online conversation growing around Biden, and with more than dozens of photographs that could send shivers down parents’ spines, these defenses feel distasteful and out of touch. It feels especially off when it comes to current conversation on sexual assault and misconduct. These accusations are barely the tip of the titanic iceberg of #MeToo and shows that the issue goes far beyond party lines. Being a Democrat, or a member of any political party, doesn’t give anyone a free pass for creepy and questionable behavior. 

On April 3, Biden released an “apology” video on Twitter, in which he stated that he’d be more “mindful and respectful of people’s personal space,” without ever actually apologizing. 

However, when Biden attended the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Conference in Washington, D.C. on April 5 as the keynote speaker, he made jokes about “getting permission” to touch others, specifically when he put his arm onto the shoulder of Lonnie R. Stephenson, the union president, and when he put his hand on a young boy’s shoulders after he invited a group of children onto the stage. 

These jokes fall especially flat because: 1. Biden has a long history of touching women, not men, and 2. The jokes show that he really isn’t even the least bit apologetic in the first place. If he actually regretted the way he acted towards women, he wouldn’t be openly mocking them in a male-dominated environment. 

So, between this incident and all the documented evidence of others, why are we still wasting our breath on this old demagogue who has no respect for women’s personal space when there are dozens more candidates that do? Even President Trump has condemned and mocked Biden despite his own history of unacceptable behavior towards women. 

In terms of conduct for future presidents, the bar has been set incredibly low. So, Democratic Party, why do you want to champion someone who can barely step over it? 

Livia Homerski | edinboro.spectator@gmail.com

Tags: joe biden

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