By now you’ve almost certainly seen the Joe Biden videos: Biden rubbing the shoulders of young girls and playing with their hair, Biden executing what appears to be a boob-grab of Stephanie Carter (the wife of former Defense Secretary Ashton Carter).
This naturally leads to the question: Is Joe Biden a “predator”, as in: someone who would (or has) used his position to force unwilling women (or worse, girls) into overtly sexual situations?
Some of you may disagree with me, but my gut-feeling is: No, Joe Biden is not a predator. I believe that Joe Biden is a fundamentally good man. (And I’m a Republican.)
This doesn’t mean, however, that those grabby videos and photos won’t be problematic. It’s complicated, but we can state the following with reasonable certainty:
1.) Joe Biden came of age when the line regarding sexual harassment was drawn much less sharply than it has been in recent years. (I’m not as old as Joe Biden, but I’m old enough to remember the 1970s and 1980s. And yes, those eras were different.)
Times have changed; but Biden has failed to change with them.
2.) Joe Biden may have intended nothing more than grandfatherly affection when he was rubbing those little girls’ shoulders. But it just looks bad…creepy, even.
A good rule of thumb is to always, always keep your hands off other people’s kids. Even if you don’t mean anything by it—even if you “like children” in a purely avuncular way—it’s a horrible idea, and it invites the worst kinds of accusations. Biden is certainly old enough to remember the McMartin preschool trial of the late 1980s. What was the man thinking?
3.) Despite several major personal tragedies (the premature deaths of his wife and son), Biden has spent most of his life in a position of privilege, and probably thought, in many situations, that rules of conduct that applied to others “didn’t apply to him”. (A lot of politicians feel that way.)
4.) As an aspiring candidate for a political party that doesn’t like straight white males to begin with, Biden—as a straight white male—was already walking on thin ice.
The ice just got even thinner.
5.) Biden’s political opponents, on both the right and the left, are going to exploit those photos and video clips as the election season draws near. (And there are a lot of photos and video clips to exploit. The guy has been part of the Washington establishment since 1973.)
Come January, images of Grabby Biden will be everywhere.
We live in the era of “gotcha” politics. And Joe Biden just handed his political enemies a big gotcha.
Whatever your feelings about the former VP, this is bad news for him, and it isn’t going away anytime soon.