It would appear that Joe Biden has run smack dab into the middle of the jaws of the Me Too Movement. As a result, a touch-feely guy finds himself running up against the unwritten rule that one may be permitted to look but not touch a member of the opposite sex without prior consent. Fact is, you have to be mighty careful with that look lest it degenerate into an outright ogle. In short, we have advanced as a society to the point that what had been accepted as permissible is now subject to scrutiny and poor old Uncle Joe Biden has been caught in the undertow.
Don’t get me wrong. I am hardly a proponent of our going back to the old days when sexually motivated unconsented to touching was given a free pass. That was back in the bad old days when women were regarded as sexual playthings. The fact that our society says women have the right to stand up for their own sense of self-dignity is a good thing. The problem for Poor Old Uncle Joe Biden is that his conduct is being treated on the same level as our sexually-assaulting President, a self-confessed pervert who believes his celebrity status has bestowed on him the right and privilege of feeling up the nearest female within his grasp.
So why are people making such a big deal out of the kind of conduct in which the Vice President has engaged in for most of his adult life? What we have here is judging past conduct by present standards. The fact is that Joe Biden is 76 years old. And when he was growing up physical conduct between the sexes was more or less acceptable. Of course one could go too far, especially if he were a total jerk, but by and large, respectful contact between the sexes was viewed more dispassionately in Uncle Joe’s day. So what does all this mean? Perhaps this reflects on Joe Biden’s advanced age. It may say categorically that he is too old for the present conventions of conduct between the genders. It could be saying that Joe Biden’s time is long past, that he can’t adapt to the changes in society that have made his hands-on signs of affection and support not only obsolete but totally objectionable. If that’s the case it is possible that Joe Biden will have to abandon his third quest for the Presidency before it has even gotten off the ground because present society isn’t going to take into consideration the Vice President’s “good intentions”.
Does this speak entirely well of the Me Too Movement? I’m not entirely sure about that. In Joe Biden’s hey-day things were more open, inviting. There was a kind of innocence about them that did not automatically call into question the propriety of seemingly innocent actions. But the subtext of such open familiarity was that a man had the “right” to such physical openness without regard for a woman’s wishes or consent. It reflects a moment in history when women were regarded as and treated like so much chattel. Now nobody is saying that this is the way Joe Biden regards women. But there is an element of paternalism in the Vice President’s conduct that is simply too passe to be tolerated in this more enlightened era.
Perhaps time has passed by our estimable former Vice President. He may well have stepped over the line to the point that he can be regarded as an anachronism, a relic of the past. The question before the house is whether Democrats in 2019 feel comfortable with the idea of having an anachronism stand as the face of their party. I personally believe Joe Biden is adaptable enough to adjust his methods of dealing with women to the standards of the Me Too Era. Given his other wonderful qualities I still believe he’d make a fine candidate for President of the United States.
But I am a 70 year old male,having been raised in roughly the same era and with many of the same values as Joe Biden. This may make me every bit the anachronism as our former Vice President. That being the case, I may not be in a position to judge the man fairly or certainly within the norms of a world dominated increasingly by millennials. But before we dismiss him out of hand I suggest he deserves the opportunity to be heard and given the same consideration as any, younger candidate!
Filed under: Politics