Vice President Biden got up close and personal with new defense secretary Ashton Carter's wife, Stephanie, during the swearing-in ceremony. (Reuters)

We've been here so many times with Joe Biden, the world's most powerful close talker, that it hardly seems worth commenting on. But we couldn't help noticing this photo from Tuesday's swearing-in ceremony of Ashton Carter, the new secretary of defense. The woman whose ear Biden appears to be whispering into is Stephanie Carter, Ashton's wife. Why Biden is doing this only he knows.

It's not the first time he's done it, though. He did a similar thing to a motorcycle-riding woman who didn't seem to mind much. (Her friends are not as impressed.)


(Carolyn Kaster/AP)

And then there was the more recent time he close-talked Maggie Coons during her father's ceremonial swearing in. This interaction led Sen. Coons (D-Del.) to have to say that no, his daughter doesn't think Biden is creepy, and that he has known Maggie her whole life.


Vice President Biden leans in to say something to Maggie Coons, next to her father, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), after Biden administered the Senate oath to Coons during a ceremonial reenactment swearing-in on Jan. 6 on Capitol Hill. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

But there was something about the Maggie Coons photo, and now this photo of Stephanie Carter, that has prompted more than the usual Biden-being-Biden reaction. This came from Stuart Stevens, the Republican media consultant who was Mitt Romney's chief political adviser in 2012.

I hate to read too much into what Stephanie Carter might be thinking in this photo, but she certainly does not look happy. More like annoyed.  Perhaps Biden should just go back to the usual grip and grin photo op.