Joe Biden's Hands Across America

Our touchy-feely vice president

February 19, 2015

Vice President Joe Biden can't keep his hands to himself when women are around.

The latest woman to fall into the Biden snare was Stephanie Carter, wife of new Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. Biden laid hands on her shoulders and whispered in her ear as Carter spoke about his new job Tuesday, and the moment went viral. Biden also made bad headlines for himself in January when, during a day of trying to charm incoming members of the U.S. Senate and their families, he bestowed a rather unwanted kiss on the head of Sen. Christopher Coons' (D., Del.) daughter.

The Washington Examiner's Byron York pointed out other examples of Biden getting too close and personal with various women during his time as President Obama's No. 2. For the entirety of the administration, his numerous odd moments have been chalked up to "Biden being Biden" by the press, but more reporters are starting to take notice after this latest incident.

The Washington Post's Nia-Malika Henderson writes:

These 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.

Even MSNBC contributors like Henderson are sitting up and taking notice, and she makes a good point about Biden following his own rhetoric about equality. The idea that Biden would be treated the same if he was a Republican is humorous though; were Joe in the Grand Old Party, the number of articles about his problematic attitudes toward the opposite sex would number in the hundreds.

Published under: Joe Biden