Earlier today, GOP strategist Karl Rove was a guest on Brian Kilmeade’s radio show. The topic turned to Joe Biden — and Lucy Flores’ recent allegations about his inappropriate nuzzling/hair snuffling. When Kilmeade broached it, Rove responded: “That’s just Joe.” (Echoing Mika Brzezinski’s sentiments.)
Rove didn’t seem all that impressed with the allegations and accusations of Biden’s penchant for creepiness. During the interview, Rove related a story where and he was seated behind Biden at the unveiling of Bush 43’s portrait during Obama’s tenure at the White House. Per Rove, Biden turned around and sort of thumped him on the chest. What Rove seemed to be saying is something that most casual observers of Biden over the years could probably attest to: Biden is just a touchy-feely sort of guy across the board.
Rove also pointed to Stephanie Carter, wife of former Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who published a defense of Biden yesterday:
On February 17, 2015, my husband was being sworn in as the Secretary of Defense — a job his years of work at the Pentagon had prepared him for and the crowning achievement of his career. I could not have been prouder and I had gushed to friends that it was like “seeing Secretariat run the Kentucky Derby”. We had started the cold, snowy day at Arlington Cemetery in Section 60 visiting the graves of our fallen. It was somber and quiet and the weight of Ash’s new responsibility was palpable. Upon our arrival at the Pentagon, I had slipped and fell on some ice — which a few journalists were nice enough to tweet about. Later, we went to the White House for the swearing in and I was feeling self-conscious and tentative (not a normal state for those who know me) about the fall — and perhaps about how much our life might change. As we walked in the room, reporters were staged and a young woman from Huffington Post shouted to me to ask if I was doing all right — I was somewhat thrown (did I not look all right?) but quickly remembered news of my fall on the ice had traveled. By the time then-Vice President Biden had arrived, he could sense I was uncharacteristically nervous- and quickly gave me a hug. After the swearing in, as Ash was giving remarks, he leaned in to tell me “thank you for letting him do this” and kept his hands on my shoulders as a means of offering his support. But a still shot taken from a video — misleadingly extracted from what was a longer moment between close friends — sent out in a snarky tweet — came to be the lasting image of that day.
In Rove’s perception, Flores’ revelation isn’t the sort of thing that should be a dealbreaker for Biden’s candidacy. It’s old school but essentially harmless.
Except this is 2019 and what used to qualify as “harmless” space invasion isn’t necessarily so anymore. It’s fair to take a hard look at Lucy Flores’ motives in coming forward with this now, though she’s hardly the only example of Biden’s hands-on tendencies. But what Flores is rightly pointing out is that the sort of physical contact which Biden frequently inflicts on others isn’t really appropriate in a professional setting. Does it make him a molester? A monster? No. But it does highlight the fact that Biden’s of another era. One which doesn’t square well with today’s expectations and norms — particularly those of the progressive left.
I get Rove’s point but think he’s missing the mark here. No, squeezing/patting shoulders and leaning in close to whisper a compliment, aren’t heinous crimes or grounds for a serious lawsuit (at least not when done by a Democrat). And they probably shouldn’t spell the death knell of a candidacy — and wouldn’t have in days gone by. But looking forward to the 2020 election, “That’s just Joe” may no longer be a winning slogan.
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