Creepy Joe Biden made women uneasy. Sorry shouldnt be the hardest word | Gwenda Blair

Obamas deputy refuses to admit wrongdoing, which puts him in the same company as Trump

Joe Biden doesnt do apologies. The former US vice-president and leading (but still not formally announced) candidate for president sympathises and empathises. He understands and reaches out. He shares. But he doesnt say hes sorry.


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    This has never been a big deal, given his famous agreeableness, his easygoing manner, and his much-touted common touch. For a guy who sometimes comes across more like an overgrown puppy than a potential commander-in-chief, it might even have seemed an asset to stand his ground and show a little spine. But over the last week, after eight women have accused Biden of inappropriate touching, aka handsiness, his no-apology stance has turned into a very big deal.

    How big? Not one of his accusers has called his behaviour clasping their hands, grabbing their shoulders, touching his forehead to theirs sexual harassment. Everything has been done in full public view there are no reports of elevator ambushes or furtive gropes and pales in comparison to what 20 women have accused Donald Trump of doing.

    But its big enough that after the initial accusation, made by Lucy Flores, a candidate for Nevada lieutenant governor back in 2014, who said that during a campaign rally Biden put his hands on her shoulders and kissed her hair, he made a statement that he didnt believe hed acted inappropriately but would listen respectfully to any such suggestion. Two days later, he released a low-key video in which he takes two minutes to say the same thing. Wearing a suit, an American flag lapel pin, but no tie, and sitting in a living room rather than an office, he looks into the camera and says that although shaking hands and hugging and grabbing people by the shoulder is just who I am, social norms have changed and in the future hell be mindful of other peoples personal space.

    Quick guide

    Which Democrats are running for 2020?

    Cory Booker, New Jersey senator

    Booker first made a name as the hands-on mayor of Newark. Known for his focus on criminal justice reform and impassioned speeches on immigration, he has though been criticized for ties to Wall Street.

    Pete Buttigieg, South Bend mayor

    Buttigieg wants to be the first openly gay millennial president. A Harvard graduate and Rhodes scholar, he became the youngest mayor of a mid-size US city at the age of 29. As a Navy Reserve lieutenant he deployed to Afghanistan while serving as mayor.

    Julin Castro, former housing and urban development secretary

    Castro casts himself as an antidote to Trump and the adminstration’s hardline immigration policies. The grandson of a Mexican immigrant and raised by single mother, the 44-year-old Democrat is one of the most prominent Latinos in Democratic politics.

    John Delaney, former Maryland congressman

    He has delivered his message of pragmatism to voters in all 99 of Iowas counties since he officially kicked off the race in July 2017. The multimillionaire banking entrepreneur wants to build a big-tent party that appeals to independents and moderate Republicans.

    Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii congresswoman

    An Iraq war veteran who has vowed to run a campaign focused on issues of war and peace. Gabbard made history as the first Samoan American and the first Hindu elected to Congress. But she has drawn criticism for meeting with Syrias president Bashar al-Assad, and progressives are wary of her past conservative views on on social issues.

    Kirsten Gillibrand, New York senator

    Years before the #MeToo movement, the New York senator was leading efforts in Congress to combat sexual assault in the military and on college campuses. The former corporate lawyer has embraced a slate of economic ideas supported by the partys progressive wing.

    Kamala Harris, California senator

    Harris is one of Trumps fiercest critics, and has built a national reputation grilling administration officials during their confirmation hearings. A former state attorney general and the daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica, Harris believes she has the unique profile to take on Trump.

    John Hickenlooper, former Governor of Colorado

    Before he served two terms as governor of Colorado, the 67-year-old Democrat worked as a geologist for a petroleum company. After a lay off, he switched careers and opened a successful brewpub in Denver that helped to revitalize the citys downtown.

    Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington

    Inslee is running as the only candidate who will make defeating climate change our nations number one priority. As the country experiences more powerful hurricanes, scorching wildfires and submerged coastlines, polls show public concern is growing.

    Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota senator

    On Election Night 2018, Klobuchar coasted to a third term as senator in a state Trump almost won. Next morning she was on every short list of potential presidential candidates. Supporters say her success with rural voters makes her a formidable candidate in the Rust Belt, while her calm demeanour provides a clear contrast with Trump.

    Beto O’Rourke, former Texas congressman

    A one-time guitarist for an El Paso punk band called Foss, ORourke had kept a relatively low profile as a three-term congressman with little name recognition. He rose to national prominence during the 2018 midterms, when his bid to unseat Senator Ted Cruzgarnered unprecedented grassroots support and a historic fundraising haul.

    Bernie Sanders, Vermont senator

    Sanders turned a long-shot, anti-establishment bid for the presidency into a political revolution that energized the partys progressive base. His political career began nearly 40 years ago, but it wasnt until his 2016 run that Sanders became a national figure as a new generation of Democrats and 2020 contenders embraced his populist economic policies.

    Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts senator

    Her sharp criticism of Wall Street and big corporations has made Warren a favorite among progressive activists, and she will campaign on a message of a rigged economic system and income inequality.

    Marianne Williamson, author

    This is not the spiritual guru and a new age authors first foray into politics: in 2014, she mounted an unsuccessful congressional bid in California. Her entry adds some star-power to the race that may attract more celebrities.

    Andrew Yang, businessman

    A former tech executive and entrepreneur running the longest of long shot campaigns centered on the perils of automation. His central plank is a plan to give every American adult a salary of $1,000 per month, paid for by a tax on companies that benefit the most from automation.

    Lauren Gambino and Sam Morris

    What he doesnt say is that hes aware and sorry that he made these women feel uncomfortable and powerless. He focuses instead on how he felt and what he meant to do.

    The reaction has been swift, loud and all over the map. The sobriquet Creepy Joe raced across the internet, and feminist author Rebecca Traister blasted Biden as paternalistic, entitled and out of touch. Others noted that Flores is a former Bernie Sanders staffer and that whatever her intentions, telling the world about her experience now instead of five years ago has the appearance of giving a boost to her former boss. The Harvard political scientist Theda Skocpol scolded Bidens critics for overreaching and out-of-context piling on.

    But the larger and perhaps more lasting impact of whats happened is a renewed attention to other moments in Bidens long political career in which he stood on what now seems the wrong side of history.

    The most famous examples are his chairmanship of a Senate committee that subjected Anita Hill to brutal questioning during confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas in 1991 and his vote to authorise the use of force in Iraq in 2002. But he also backed laws that curtailed school integration in the 1970s; banned the use of federal funds for abortions in the US and abroad in the 1980s; promoted tough-on-crime measures in the 1980s and 1990s that contributed to mass incarceration; protected credit card companies from having to tell customers the cumulative cost of partial monthly payments; repealed the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999, which fostered conditions that led to the financial meltdown of 2008; and in 2005 made it more difficult for people to reduce debt by filing for personal bankruptcy.

    With such a long rap sheet, it may be hard for voters to appreciate Bidens more positive contributions, which include his sponsorship of the Violence Against Women Act and his support for gay marriage and for an extension of the Voting Rights Act.

    A good way for Biden to start making a more favourable impression would be to reconsider that no-apology thing. Its not impossible, as can be seen in Bernie Sanderss recent apology for a hostile environment toward women in his 2016 campaign. All Biden has to say is that hes sorry for making women uncomfortable. This is not a guilty plea or even a reversal of what hes previously said; rather, its an acknowledgment that regardless of what he meant to do, women ended up feeling badly and he regrets that he caused this to happen. There may be other women smarting from his unwanted attention and they would probably welcome these words.

    Of course, an apology wont guarantee his nomination. But failing to make a mea culpa, much less trying to laugh the matter off as he did on Friday during a speech at a labour union convention in Washington DC, when he hugged the president and then assured the audience hed asked his permission, will only make the problem worse.

    Moreover, it puts him in the company of other men who refuse to apologise, notably the president of the United States. For Trump to do anything except insist hes right and everyone else is wrong is a sign of weakness. Biden has already been given the soubriquet Creepy Joe. Its a bad crowd and being part of it will leave a legacy that Biden should not want to share.

    Gwenda Blair is the author of The Trumps: Three Generations of Builders and a President

    Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

     


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