OPINION: Biden’s boomerang

Politics in the era of #MeToo

By on April 9, 2019

Well, Democrats, you made your bed and now it’s time to lie in it.

Anyone with eyes could’ve seen this moment coming from miles away. The #MeToo movement is beginning to cannibalize its own.

Mark Nozell/Flickr Creative Commons
At least seven women have come forward alleging Joe Biden’s unwanted and inappropriate behavior. The allegations arrive just as many suspect Biden’s imminent entrance into the 2020 race for president.

First to accuse Biden was Lucy Flores, a former member of the Nevada Legislature. She described Biden’s “demeaning and disrespectful” behavior when he kissed the back of her head during an event in 2014. She detailed the experience in a column for New York Magazine.

“I felt him get closer to me from behind,” she wrote. “He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified. He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head. My brain couldn’t process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused.”

Since then, six women told similar stories – three reported by the New York Times and another three reported by The Washington Post.

Even if the allegations are true (which seems likely given the video evidence we have of Biden repeatedly exhibiting this type of behavior), they still are not disqualifying.

This is not, and should never be considered, a #MeToo moment. Creepy? Yes. Assault? No. Unfortunately for Biden, the court of public opinion seems to have already made up its mind.

In reality, Biden is simply an old man who hasn’t come to terms with our changing societal norms. He’s not a predator, he just doesn’t realize not everybody wants to be touched.

Where Biden deserves the most criticism is in his non-apology apology.

In a video posted to his Twitter account, Biden said, “Politics to me has always been about making connections, but I will be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future.”

I applaud the former vice president for vowing to change his behavior, but the fact remains that he glaringly failed to say “I’m sorry.” Not “I’m sorry you were offended,” but “I’m sorry I made you uncomfortable.”

There is no doubt in my mind that Biden meant no harm in his public displays of affection. I believe him when he says many people have sought out his comfort and support. That doesn’t negate the claims of his seven accusers, particularly when noting the power dynamic involved as a vice president.

Actress Alyssa Milano, resident expert on all things #MeToo, had a different take, however.

Milano is a staunch activist who went so far as to attend the Senate hearing on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in the wake of his sexual assault allegations. Since then, she has been a proponent of “believing all women.”

Until now, that is.

On April 1, Milano solidified her support for Biden in a string of tweets.

“I am proud to call Joe Biden a friend,” Milano wrote. “He has been a leader and champion on fighting violence against women for many years.”

She continued by citing Biden’s “kind, empathetic leadership” as “what our country needs.”

Call me crazy, but I must have severely misinterpreted the meaning of “believe all women.” Does it really apply to ALL women? Or does it just apply to certain women at specific times when it is politically convenient?

Milano’s hypocrisy emphasizes everything that’s gone wrong with the #MeToo movement. What started out as a watershed moment that rightfully allowed victims of assault to reclaim their power quickly derailed into a circus.

It’s ironic that Milano now chooses to believe in due process when it’s expedient and fits her narrative. She believed Kavanaugh’s accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford unequivocally. As for Biden’s first accuser, Flores, she only “respects [her] decision to share her story.”

Democrats and women’s groups rallied around Ford, but how will they approach handling the accused of their own? The stories of Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson, for example, seem to have vanished into the abyss. Tyson accused Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax of violently forcing her to perform oral sex on him. Watson accused the rising Democratic star of rape.

Although the allegations of Biden’s accusers are far less extreme, the way the Democratic Party responds will serve as a decisive gut check. They know just as well as Republicans that sexual assault happens during circumstances that are often difficult, if not impossible, to corroborate.

Biden has indeed been a powerful voice for women though, particularly in his efforts to combat rape and assault on college campuses through his “It’s On Us” campaign. He’s a patriot with a legacy of service.

His record is not scot-free, however. Biden recently admitted he still has “regret” about the way he handled Anita Hill’s testimony in 1991. Long before the Kavanaugh hearings, Hill brought forth allegations of sexual harassment at the hands of then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

“I wish I could have done something – I opposed Clarence Thomas’ nomination, and I voted against him,” Biden said. “But I also realized that there was a real perceived problem the Committee faced: there were a bunch of white guys.”

I’m not sure when Biden last looked in the mirror, but rest assured: he is a white man. Biden can lament all he wants about the way things were handled, but it falls on deaf ears. He was the Senate Judiciary chair at the time of the hearing, and was in charge of overseeing how Hill’s testimony was presented to senators.

As of last fall, Hill said she had not received a direct apology from Biden, either.

Make no mistake, Democrats. A standard of “believe all women,” means we don’t believe any man, regardless of what facts may arise. A mere accusation is now enough to take anyone down, and Biden’s campaign is in shambles before even hitting the ground.

The #MeToo police are on patrol and it’s open season. Biden and his fellow Democrats happily chummed the waters when it came to President Trump and Kavanaugh, and it’s finally come back to bite them. Not even good old Uncle Joe is safe.

What we can all agree on is that women deserve to be heard, and we must never stop encouraging victims to speak out by continuing to offer our support. We have an obligation to investigate each and every claim to the fullest.

When Biden inevitably throws his hat in the ring and announces his presidential bid, he will have to decide for himself whether or not he owes anyone an apology. It will then be up to the American people to decide if it’s enough.

Democrats must now ask themselves: what is the #MeToo line that you want to draw? Think hard, because you will live and die by that line.

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