We wrote Tuesday about Joe Biden doing his Biden thing at Defense Secretary Ash Carter's swearing-in ceremony.
If you missed it, watch it here:
Even more so than usual, Biden's recent Bidening (defined loosely here as Biden being so Biden as to make others uncomfortable) has sparked all sorts of eye-rolling and head-shaking, proving once again that Biden is almost his own news genre. Just take a look at The Onion and the Internet.
The Daily Beast referred to Biden's touchy-feely approach to Stephanie Carter as an instance of "tactile cuckolding." They have even called for a new "Veep 'hands-off' policy" complete with cattle prods if necessary. Yes, it has come to this.
And the Washington Examiner's Byron York declared that Biden has a "woman-touching habit" and laid out a few examples of him close-talking and hugging women.
York also pointed to these comments, which get at the gender dynamics that seem to be at play in Biden's interactions:
"There is no circumstance under which a man has a right to touch a woman without her consent, other than self-defense," Biden said in October 2000 in relation to the Violence Against Women Act. "We are changing the attitudes of America about what constitutes appropriate behavior on the part of a man with a woman."
Some tipping point has been reached with Biden, it seems. While it used to be chalked up to Biden being "Uncle Joe," it's increasingly being described as "creepy." And York certainly has a good point. Even as Biden was addressing violence against women in the context of the comments York highlighted, his talk about the changing nature of appropriate behavior is worth drilling down on.
Biden is a creature of his time; that's not so much an excuse as it is context. He is folksy and always (overly) familiar, the kind of guy who name-checks somebody named "Mouse" at an NAACP convention.
Those personality quirks have typically been viewed as part of his charm and political strength. But the recent display does, as York and others suggest, raise the specter of sexism.
The right has suggested that if Biden were a Republican, the press would be much harder on him. I'm not so sure that's the case. He is given a pass because he is from a different time. There are plenty of older male politicians whose frame of reference in greeting the opposite gender is far too 1960s rather than 2010s; almost none of them are on-camera nearly as much as Biden is.
But as a man who prides himself on his work on women's issues, Biden might heed his own advice. He said that attitudes are changing about what "constitutes appropriate behavior." That should probably apply to Joe Biden's interactions with women too.