Joe Biden Gets A Bum Rap | Opinion

Former Vice President Joe Biden is getting a bum rap.

I don’t know who concocted the meme but all these photos that have popped up showing him standing behind women, hands on their shoulders, talking quietly to them in a way that looks like he’s sniffing their hair are total garbage. What’s he’s doing, and he does it with men too, is the kind of retail personal interaction between politicians and constituents that used to be the norm.

He’s right not to apologize -- and probably right, in the age of #MeToo to announce he’s going to be more careful about his behavior since he does want, eventually, to be president of the United States. However, this kind of nonsense has gone on long enough and it needs to stop.

The stink of an unfounded allegation of sexual harassment, which is what this has become, never fully washes off. There will always be people who wonder what was true, what wasn’t, and what more there might be. Take it from me, I’ve seen the damage something like this can do. It cannot be undone completely even when there’s not truth to the allegation. At least in Biden’s case, where it’s all out in the open, it can be addressed. The whispering campaigns that have been launched against other folks and in some cases are still going on, not so much.

In the name of being sensitive and understanding and compassionate, we’ve allowed things to slip to the point where a mere accusation is enough to do someone in. Just ask Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh about that. Men, and the women who care about them need to stand up and say “Enough!” The randomness and baselessness involved in these kinds of things need to end.

And for those in the GOP who are cheering as Biden fumbles, shame on you. Sure, the natural thing is to take pleasure in his misfortune, especially given the number of Republicans who have had their political aspirations unfairly derailed by similar things. But it shouldn’t take a genius to figure out the same people who tried to stop Kavanaugh and others using allegations of sexual misconduct are probably the ones behind the attacks on the “good old Uncle Joe.” He is no longer in a place where he can serve their interests, as he did – or tried to do – as vice president and as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He’s not just expendable, he’s in the way.

Once he’s gone, if they can knock him out of the race, it will be business as usual, with Republicans hither and yond ending up under a dark cloud of allegations 24/7.

As to the why, it’s easy to explain. Biden, as a longtime senator, two-time former presidential candidate, and eight-year former vice president is “the big dog” in the contest for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. He knows the key people. He knows the folks who write the big checks. He has the name ID to propel him to the top of the early polls, however narrowly. He’s also as liberal as you can get but those fighting him for the nomination have moved out into deep left field. They’re not pretending to be centrists or moderates, which is what most Democrats running for national office do. They’re campaigning for the job being clear about what they’d do if elected and are willing to go places Biden, who learned to win the old-fashioned way, won’t.

Unfortunately for them, they can’t take him out on issues, so they must attack his character and his behavior. He can’t take back what he’s already done – especially with all the photographic evidence that exists to seemingly back them up – so that’s where they’re making the fight. Because one of his opponents in the race for the nomination if not more than one wants to pick up the remnants of his campaign. There are probably a lot of big donors and precinct captains and party activists who matter who’ve committed to Biden – or at least promised him they wouldn’t endorse another candidate until he officially got out of the race. They’ve planned a slow death by a thousand cuts for Biden that’s will last just about as long as it takes someone else to solidify their position as “the second choice” when and if he leaves the race.

There are plenty of reasons to not want Joe Biden to be president. I’m not endorsing his candidacy. I am, however, calling out the folks who manufactured this issue and telling them it’s not selling, at least not with me. The politics of personal destruction, which started with Bork or maybe even before, have not served the nation well. Joe Biden could do us all a service if he joined the fight to bring them to an end. 

Newsweek contributing editor Peter Roff has written extensively about politics and the American experience for U.S. News and World Report, United Press International, and other publications. 
He can be reached by email at RoffColumns@GMAIL.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeterRoff

The views expressed in this article are the author's own.​​​​​

Join the Discussion

Editor's Pick