In a bizarre column published in Tuesday’s Washington Post, long-time journalist Karen Tumulty defends Joe Biden, writing that it’s not so much a person’s actions that count, as his intentions.
In her column entitled, “Joe Biden needs to cut it out. So does the mob,” the Washington, D.C.-based columnist, referring to Biden as the “presumed front-runner-to-be in the 2020 Democratic primary” says it’s important to consider “whether an alleged perpetrator was acting with malevolence or just cluelessness.”
Numerous photos and video montages that have circulated on the Internet since at least 2018 show the long-time senator from Delaware and former vice president snuggling up to women, smelling their hair and getting touchy-feely with young girls who are quite obviously uncomfortable and pulling away.
In one video, Sen. Jeff Sessions appears to run interference for his young granddaughter at a picture-taking session at the U.S. Capitol, getting in between her and Biden after Biden put out his hand to stroke her hair, and quickly leading her away from Biden.
Over the weekend, Nevada legislator Lucy Flores wrote in an essay for New York magazine that she was “mortified” when Biden moved in close to her from behind and “inhaled” her hair before planting a “big slow kiss” on the back of her head when he was campaigning for her in her race for lieutenant governor.
“I was embarrassed, I was shocked. I was confused,” she wrote, adding that how she felt could be summed up by a Spanish expression “tragametierra,” which means, “earth, swallow me whole.”
But after referring to Flores’ account, Tumulty downplayed it, writing that “we should respect women who have the courage to come forward about their experiences with unwanted physical contact” but that “it is also important — and a sign that a social movement is maturing into a social norm — to recognize that not every offense is of equal severity.”
And anyway, it’s sort of normal behavior for a politician, Tumulty seems to say.
“For politicians,” she writes, “these issues can be particularly fraught. ‘Pressing the flesh’ is a vital part of the campaign ritual. Nearly every public appearance by a candidate ends with eager supporters lining up for handshakes and hugs and faux intimate photos wrapping arms with someone who just might be making history.”
But Biden’s hugs often come from behind, and therefore are not the usual kind of hug in which two people approach each other from the front and engage in a mutual embrace.
And his unwanted touching doesn’t stop at hugs, according to reports.
An unnamed former Secret Service agent was quoted in a Nov. 14, 2017, article posted to the Gateway Pundit saying that another agent had been suspended because Biden had cupped the agent’s girlfriend’s breast at an event, and the agent had shoved him in anger.
And there are signs that Biden’s behavior may be intended to make women uncomfortable, or that the long-time politician might in some way enjoy their discomfort.
In his 2014 book on the Secret Service and their work protecting the presidents and vice presidents and their families, First Family Detail, journalist Ronald Kessler wrote that female Secret Service agents are offended by being forced to watch over Biden as he swims naked in the pool at the vice president’s residence in Washington, D.C., and at his home outside of Wilmington, Del.
The unnamed Secret Service agent also said that Biden walks around the vice president’s residence in the buff, in front of female agents. He described Biden’s behavior as “Weinstein-level stuff.”
But Tumulty doesn’t seem interested in getting into any of these details, and in fact scolds readers that they can’t lose their “sense of proportion,” saying it could “dishonor the victims of the worst kinds of sexual abuse” and prevent people like Biden from seeing a “path to redemption.”
But in case this column didn’t do much to tamp down criticism of Biden, the Washington Post published a similar column to its website on Tuesday, this one entitled, “That time Biden came in close, put his forehead on mine” — evidently meant to mock the Connecticut woman who came forward Monday saying when she was a 33-year-old congressional staffer, Biden had grabbed her by the neck, pulled her head toward his, and rubbed their noses together. The woman, now 43, said she thought Biden was going to forcibly kiss her.
The Washington Post writer, Jonathan Capehart, wrote mockingly that the former vice president had once “stepped deep” into his personal space, rested his hands on his shoulders and touched his head to Capehart’s.
“Was I uncomfortable? Sure. Not many people get in my personal space or do so with such gusto. Did I mind? Truth be told, no. This was a person I respected, and I appreciated the gesture,..” Capehart wrote.
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