Recently, Joe Biden faced accusations from two women who claimed that he touched them inappropriately. The first was from Lucy Flores, a candidate for lieutenant governor of Nevada in 2014. She wrote an article on March 29 stating that then-Vice-President Biden had come up behind her, placed his hands on her shoulders, smelled her hair and kissed the back of her head while backstage before an election rally. Flores writes that during the encounter, “I wanted nothing more than to get Biden away from me.” The second accusation comes from a woman named Amy Lappos who says that at a 2009 fundraiser, Biden “put his hands around my neck and pulled me in to rub noses with me.” Lappos went on to say that the incident was more than affectionate or grandfatherly, that it instead was “sexism or misogyny.”
These accusations came just before Biden was expected to officially announce his candidacy for president and during the #MeToo era when women are feeling more empowered than ever to speak out on sexual assault, harassment and severely uncomfortable situations that men, especially powerful men, have put them in.
Biden has been beloved by many throughout his political career, especially during his eight years as vice-president to Barack Obama. His good-natured personality, statesmanship and the idea of a return to an Obama-like presidency have led many to see him as their first choice for 2020. But none of these things should be reasons for overlooking the accusations against Biden or the way he’s handled sexual harassment claims against others in the past.
Recently, Biden has come out saying that he owes Anita Hill, a woman who was attacked and humiliated in front of an all-male Senate judiciary committee over sexual harassment claims she made against now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in the 1990s, an apology for not being able to protect her as chairman of that committee. Yet in the decades following, he has not contacted her personally and blames the way she was treated on his Republican colleagues.
Biden is a man who finds himself in the center of a controversy that his decisions alone created. Following the accusations, Biden released a video saying he will “be more respectful and mindful of people’s personal space.” Biden also remarked in that same video that “the boundaries protecting personal space have been reset” and that “social norms have begun to change, they’ve shifted.” What Biden fails to realize is that women’s silence was not meant to be construed as permission, but was most often a reaction out of fear and shock. The reason women are speaking out now is not because social norms and boundaries have changed, it is because many women finally feel empowered to do so.
Biden frames himself as a victim of changing times, and it seems that he does not believe he was ever in the wrong. Biden shows that he is a man who is not and has not been accountable for his actions, particularly when it comes to his interactions with women.
No accusations have come out that would make Biden comparable to men like Harvey Weinstein or Matt Lauer. However, just because the Biden accusations are not as extreme does not mean he has the character needed to hold the office of president. It’s time for Democrats to see Biden for what he is: an unapologetic man who is unfit for the presidency of the United States.