It’s one thing to shake hands and hug a few people as a politician.
It’s one thing to reach out to others, make a human connection, share meaningful conversation even with a harried and hurried schedule.
Those one-on-one interactions, when genuinely and intentionally offered by those in public office or those seeking public office, are usually appreciated and remembered.
But it’s another thing entirely to have seven women on the record who have said former Vice President Joe Biden — and before that a longtime member of Congress who served the people of Delaware — inappropriately touched them and made them feel uncomfortable.
These people did not have to come forward and say these things now. But they did.
One wonders, Why didn’t they say something before this? And is their doing so politically motivated — since the 76-year-old Biden is apparently getting ready to declare a run for the 2020 Democratic nomination?
But there are a lot of complex reasons people don’t speak out immediately about actual transgressions against them.
And there is no question that today’s #MeToo movement, for better or worse, has made it easier for people to speak out about things that were presumably done to them. (And one must always question the charges, as we know — too many lives can be, and have been, ruined by casual, cruel and false allegations.)
On Wednesday, Biden made a video of himself about today’s concerns in the #MeToo era and shared it on Twitter. He vowed to be better going forward, to be “more mindful about respecting personal space.”
He said directly to the camera, “I get it. I get it.”
He said that he would do his best to behave more appropriately from this point on.
“Social norms are changing. I understand that, and I’ve heard what these women are saying,” he said in the tweet.
“Politics to me has always been about making connections, but I will be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future. That’s my responsibility and I will meet it.”
Social norms are changing. I understand that, and I’ve heard what these women are saying. Politics to me has always been about making connections, but I will be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future. That’s my responsibility and I will meet it. pic.twitter.com/Ya2mf5ODts
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) April 3, 2019
Some people praised Biden for his directness, for his candid “this is Joe being Joe” approach.
Others said the cellphone video was too quickly, even cheaply dashed off — that Biden looked pale, that the whole endeavor wasn’t thought out more carefully, that it wasn’t better handled or presented.
But even after that video circulated, several more women stepped forward late Wednesday and complained that Biden had touched them in ways that were inappropriate.
These brand new accusers are in addition to the four who had spoken out earlier.
On Wednesday, an article in The Washington Post detailed the accounts of three additional women who said Biden made improper contact with them.
Lucy Flores, a former lawmaker in Nevada (shown above right at the top of this article), reacted on Twitter on Wednesday to Biden’s video. She declared she was “glad” the former vice president “acknowledges that he made women feel uncomfortable with his unsolicited gestures of encouragement.”
But she added that “he hasn’t apologized to the women he made uncomfortable.”
And that is the key.
Flores, a Democrat, said last week that in 2014, Biden made her feel uneasy when he gripped her by the shoulders, smelled her hair, and kissed her on the back of her head just as she was preparing to go on stage at a campaign rally for her lieutenant governor bid.
He was there to support her — and his unwanted touching was the last thing she expected, she has said.
The notion of “the man never apologized” has emerged in the past about those who made women uncomfortable — or in other much more egregious ways violated them.
Biden, whom many have said is one of the most decent people to have served in government, has not yet apologized to any of these people.
Where are those apologies?
And where is the real remorse — especially because in many of these cases, there is video evidence that actually shows the unwanted touching?
Speaking on Wednesday night to anchor Shannon Bream of the Fox News Channel program “Fox News @ Night,” D.J. Hill, a writer who decided to go public about her own uneasy meeting with Biden in 2012, declared, “I think we are going through a cultural shift in our country which, in my opinion, is long overdue. And I have been inspired by women who have been brave enough to say that actions negatively impacted them, that they felt uncomfortable. And I also am a parent and a grandparent, and I think this issue is [wearing] and we’ve talked about it for decades.”
She added, “It’s polluted politics. It’s polluted our culture. And I think we’ve come to a point where we need to have a zero tolerance policy so that our country can focus on pressing issues at hand.”
Forgiveness can only follow an apology sincerely, wholeheartedly and appropriately offered — and then a change in behavior afterward to prove the point.
She also said about the lack of apology so far from Biden, “I would like to think that perhaps this is a time of realization and self-awareness for Mr. Biden. You know, time will tell. But I think that no one should define another person’s boundaries, period. And so, I will be waiting to see [an apology] from Mr. Biden as well as other candidates. It’s one thing to say it. It’s another thing to show actions that you are moving toward what you say the self-realization is about.”
Yes, the American people can be very forgiving. People in general can be. But forgiveness can only follow an apology sincerely, wholeheartedly and appropriately offered — and then a change in behavior afterward to prove the point.
Those actions shouldn’t be done because they’re politically prudent, either. But because they’re real.
Check out this video — and share your thoughts on this issue in the comments section below.