BIDEN’S TEACHABLE MOMENT
Joe Biden is in a bit of a pickle right now as Lucy Flores is accusing him of inappropriate touching. I wrote this on yesterday, Monday April 1, 2019, and that very day another woman came forward with an allegation that Biden rubbed noses with her that made her feel uncomfortable. I this this second allegation serves to prove the larger point I make below.
Americans have known that Biden is a “tactile” politician that hugs and rubs and kisses on people, male and female. It has always been his way of showing that he cares and can empathize with the issues and problems of the electorate. I don’t think this is so much a sexual harassment issue as an invasion of personal space. And as a man, I have encountered men who shake hands too long, or put their face too close to mine, or just engage inside my personal space. And yes, it has made me feel uncomfortable. But this is not a sexual thing, there are just people who engage others in this manner.
For full disclosure, Joe Biden is my personal pick for the Democratic nomination and next president. With that said, the reason Biden is my choice is because of his life’s work and his life span. I think America is deeply in need of a grandfather. America under Trump has opened that trunk in the attic that contained all the racism and insecurity that white people have felt since the Civil Rights Movement. These feelings were forced into that box as new laws and court precedents made expression of racial insensitive feelings costly. Even the Ku Klux Klan, a bastion of racism and hate, was forced to go undercover after civil judgments bankrupted the organization.
Grand Dragon, David Duke put away his robe and wore a suit and ran for elected office. Most Americans have yielded to the new reality of diversity regardless of their stance. And as time has passed, diversity has become an accepted reality for succeeding generations. It is this diversity that has allowed racial minorities and women to make tremendous strides in all aspects of life. Diversity spawned the #MeToo movement and brought light to the culture of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Then there was Brett Kavanaugh. Watching Brett, the Party Animal reminded me of the movie Animal House, in which a girl is upstairs passed out drunk on a bed when a drunken frat boy is tempted to take advantage. Kavanaugh’s experiences and denials seemed to me to be a sign of the times and the total lack of respect that most men had for females. This lack of respect was deeply embedded into the culture of, not just America, but of the entire male/female dynamic of the human race.
Fast forward to Joe Biden and his “tactile” sensitivity. Many would compare this tactile emotion to be akin to Trump’s “grab em by the pussy”. But We know Joe Biden, we have watched Joe hug and show his affection to many people, men and women. Enemies of Joe Biden love to use the video of Biden putting his hands on the shoulder of Stephanie Carter, the wife of former Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter. This, those enemies claim, is a prime example of inappropriate touching. Yet, Stephanie Carter has said, Biden hugged her because he could sense that she was nervous and was comforted by the show of affection which she greatly appreciated.
The #MeToo movement seems to have established a benchmark rule that there will be no touching. Now, people use retrospect the define creepy. We measure how we feel and what is appropriate based on the strict #MeToo benchmark of there isn’t “supposed” to be any touching or signs of affection: violation of this benchmark, is disqualifying. But no one is saying Biden was being sexually inappropriate, merely invading space and being too personal. Yet, it has been that personalization that has endeared Biden to the American people. He has always been that guy that will just give a hug because that’s what was needed. And more times than not, it was greatly appreciated. Just like your grandfather.
What has changed is the expectation that people should love one another and should display that affection. Biden is from that bygone era where he felt free to show affection and it didn’t mean he was trying to get with you. These complaints against Joe Biden are based on our collective loss of trust in each other. He touched her on the shoulder once, obviously he’s a creep. Yet, back in the day, such touching could be seen as a sign of encouragement.
Part of Stephanie Carter’s response of welcoming the comforting touch, is that she knows what kind of person Joe Biden is. Nevertheless, today’s #MeToo realities not only frown on Biden’s form of “tactile” emotions, but even the word affection is absolute taboo in a formal or workplace environment. So, Biden is struggling to fit his lifetime of affection, into the cold emotionless-equality requirement of the #MeToo Movement. But I say he shouldn’t try. He should instead accept and understand that just as it is now considered RUDE TO TYPE IN ALL-CAPS, displays of affection, even friendly-accepted ones, are not as inviting and permitted as they once were, but his past displays were all prior to the #MeToo epiphany.
As Americans, we were able to watch Barack Obama transform from opposing same-sex marriage to pushing to normalize it. And we all understood his reasoning and witness how attitudes can change. Biden has the unique prospective of having watched all three major civil rights movements: race, gender and sexual orientation, unfold in front of his eyes.
This is his opportunity to discuss the mistakes made by people from a different time; mistakes not formed from hate or animus, but from lack of understanding and ignorance. Joe Biden is truly that grandfather from that age when men assumed a women’s place was in the home. Joe Biden is from that period when blacks were believed to be inferior. Even though Joe Biden never espoused any of these racist and/or sexist ideals, he has lived and watched people on the wrong side of these issues change and evolve, just as Obama evolved on gay marriage.
The age of the civil rights movement was a time of quick moving change, so much so that even black “leaders” and women rights “leaders” could not decide how much change they should push to achieve. In the 1990’s, gay rights “leaders” disagreed on the level of change which should be sought, and many believed seeking legalization of gay marriage in the courts was a mistake that could provoke a severe backlash.
Biden was there for all this change. Biden, if you are listening, go on Oprah or Anderson Cooper and talk face to face to Ms. Lucy Lopez (your accuser) live and unrehearsed. This is a teachable moment, much like Obama’s beer summit, but without the beer or the levity. He should talk about how change sometimes gets ahead of people. I personally believe the Biden of 2014, did not see his act from the prospective of how Ms. Lopez could have felt, until very recently looking at it retrospectively, through that #MeToo lens. Biden should listen to her full story of what she says he did and she felt. He should accept that what was once an innocuous gesture of affection and sympathy, is now construed in an entirely different way. And most importantly, he must resist the urge to give her a comforting hug.
Yet, with or without a face to face with the accuser, a discussion of this issue would also allow Biden to discuss the Anita Hill issue and how he didn’t go as far as he probably could have in allowing her voice, and her witnesses, to be heard at the Clarence Thomas Confirmation hearing, as well as the changes that Trump has made in America by encouraging the rise of hate and white supremacy and racial animus.
The problem about finding a good leader is that he will always be an imperfect human. The greatest thing about a good leader is that he always be an imperfect human. To err is human and to forgive is divine. Mr. Biden would find that people can forgive his anachronistic mistakes as long it is accompanied with a knowledge that he has changed with the times. I find Biden the most attractive candidate because I believe he is what white America needs to finally put those white supremacist demons away, after having dusted them off for Trump.
I believe white America needs a white man whom they can relate with, to explain that its ok if America becomes a bit browner, that whites don’t have to run everything to prevent the collapse of Rhodesia from happening in America. I have told this reasoning to people who have all said we should not pick a president simply to make white people happy. But the rise of white supremacy and related terroristic activity is perhaps the greatest domestic problem of our time. Granted, most white nationalist are pretty set in their ways, but Joe Biden is uniquely equipped to talk to that segment of America that have mixed feelings on the issue. Biden can sit down with that coal miner and explain that they are equal to the people who made wagon wheels a hundred years ago; their industry is going the way of the doo-doo. But Biden can also ease those concerns by explaining that the government will push tax incentives for green energy hardware production to center in once coal country, to replace the industries they will lose. Simply put, I believe Biden is the right guy for the right time. But he must get past this problem without giving a weak inept excuse that kills his campaign before it starts.