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Wednesday, April 3, 2019


Let’s face it.  I find Joe Biden’s behavior toward women creepy.  I understand that is not a very elevated observation.  For a more careful, thoughtful discussion of the issue, you can take a look at this.  But for my part, I just find it cringe-worthy.  To convey how it makes me feel, engage with me for a moment in what we philosophers call a thought experiment [physicists too, but because they actually do serious work, they call it a gedankenexperiment.]

Suppose Nancy Pelosi made it a habit of coming up behind young House pages, resting her hands on their shoulders, smelling their hair, and kissing their heads.  Suppose she pulled a young aide to her and rubbed noses with him, all the while smiling benevolently.  I suggest we would find that icky, or as we say in polite company, inappropriate.  We would think there was something not quite right about her, something, dare I say it, post-menopausal.  And suppose that when called on this behavior, she said grandly that she had never, never, not for a moment meant anything untoward by it, that she was just ole Nancy being Nancy.

Do you see what I mean?


Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right, but I still like Uncle Joe. A creepy old man is preferable to a moral monster like Trump. At this stage I would support Elizabeth Warren, but there are several very good Democratic candidates out there.

s. wallerstein said...

The feminist movement has been with us for 50 years now. I recall that it first hit big in 1969, the date of the publication of Kate Millett's Sexual Politics.

That is, Biden has had half a century to realize that women are not dolls to play with or cute puppies to be hugged at his will. If he hasn't learned that in 50 years, there is no hope for him.

Yes, I realize that not everyone everywhere was exposed to the feminist movement in 1969, but Biden in that year was already a lawyer, was elected to the county council as a Democrat, and undoubtedly had daily access to the supposedly sophisticated newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post.

Within several months of being exposed to the renewed feminist movement in 1969, I changed a lot of my behaviors toward women, as I imagine almost all readers of this blog did who were of university age or older then.

Anonymous said...

Anyone civilized is by now a feminist in the ways that matter, to quote a great philosopher. Fifty years of feminist activism hasn't led to an unstoppable tide against sexism, Michael Albert points out. He goes on to suggest that some activists might have driven potential allies away. The true believers insist a priori that they weren't allies to begin with. It follows that no activist is ever mistaken. You'll forgive me if these matters fall well below my high-pass filter, though one wonders whether any criticism of some activists is ever legitimate.

Jerry Fresia said...

Great gedankenexperiment (that word alone makes this blog a very good one)!

I think all of this creepy, in plain sight, behavior disqualifies Uncle Joe. His baggage
easily rivals if not surpasses the other most qualified candidate in history. No wonder
Mayor Pete gets traction (and at the same time is an ominous sign for Sen. Harris).

Moreover your gedankenexperiment suggests to me that there has been a huge amount
of arrogance, narcissism, entitlement, and plain old tone-deaf sexism woven into these
icky acts. More astonishing is the fact that he hasn't been nailed on this previously. Is it
because the other adults-in-the-room find it as acceptable as does super strategist Nancy?

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Remember, Jerry, that it has been a very long time since Biden ran for anything on his own [I don't count VP]. My own view is that his crime bill busing Iraq War Anita Hill baggage disqualifies him totally.

s. wallerstein said...

More on Biden. His policies are as troubling as his inappropriate touching.

Christopher J. Mulvaney, Ph.D. said...

I can see the race now: pussy grabber Donny vs. seriously creepy Joe. It adds a whole new dimension to the rationale of voting for the lesser of two evils.

Jerry Fresia said...

Exactly. So who will the establishment power brokers turn to? My guess is Harris or Beto. Booker, Klobuchar, and Gillibrand, among the top tier, seem to be stalled. The MSM will decimate (hee hee, just kidding)...shred Sanders and Warren.

A Harris-Beto ticket could be in the offing, forcing Sanders and Warren to openly take on the establishment? (By appealing to disaffected Trump people? playing the 3rd party card?)

Chris said...

"I still like Uncle Joe. A creepy old man is preferable to a moral monster like Trump"

We shouldn't be 'liking people' because they are preferable to 'moral monsters'. By this obscene standard of reasoning, I like Trump because he's not Hitler. And I like Paul Ryan because he's not Trump. You might as well pat yourself on the back for not running around shouting the n-word if we are going to applaud people for behavior that is at best minimally decent. Now you could say 'I would prefer VOTING for Biden over Trump', but we can vote for people we don't like, obviously.

"My own view is that his crime bill busing Iraq War Anita Hill baggage disqualifies him totally."

Amen Professor!

Thomas Jones said...

Tempest in a teapot . . . and Biden would be my "anyone but Trump" alternative, not my personal choice, but not because of his tendency to "invade" personal spaces. Heaven help us should he kiss an infant at a political gathering, or embrace a male as has been documented many times. I grew up in the deep south where this sort of behavior is common. And even though I personally find this behavior uncomfortable, I'm not convinced that my, perhaps, neurotic response isn't the larger part of what's at play. Thus, a close dance between partners in the 40's or 50's yields to "twerking." Blame it on the music of the times if you really haven't matured enough to know the difference exaggerated physical affection and sexual advances.

For a dissenting view:

s. wallerstein said...

Thomas Jones,

I grew up in New Jersey, I'm almost Biden's age, and I am embarrassed about all the things that were commonly said about distinct minority groups (including sexual minorities), women and foreigners when I was growing up. Not to mention the way "everyone" around me treated sexual minorities, racial minorities, women and most foreigners (except Brits who were high status). With the years most of us have learned to treat the above-mentioned groups as our equals and to respect their space. I don't see why Biden hasn't learned that.

By the way, I'd wager that Biden is a lot more careful before hugging another male whom he does not know, because he knows that invading the space of a male can get you a bloody nose and I'm sure that Biden is aware of that. There's no excuse for his pathetic efforts at coping a free feel, as we used to say and maybe people still do.

Thomas Jones said...

"By the way, I'd wager that Biden is a lot more careful before hugging another male whom he does not know, because he knows that invading the space of a male can get you a bloody nose and I'm sure that Biden is aware of that. There's no excuse for his pathetic efforts at coping a free feel, as we used to say and maybe people still do."

You see, this is a problem, i.e., when purely rhetorical speculation such as this ("bloody nose," indeed) masquerade as substantive argument rather than simply misbegotten assertion. Biden is a career politician, and there are certainly better arguments to dismiss a Biden candidacy for Potus than his touchy/feely "creepiness," one of which is referenced in a comment by Prof. Wolff despite the fact that it's decades old. Or maybe his f-bombs being captured by mics after an Obama speech. Why not mention that he was one of the least wealthy Senators serving in Congress when selected by Obama to serve as his VP? This alone in an accomplishment by today's standards. And what of the obvious coincidence that this topic should suddenly assume such importance other than the lame-brained impotence of the left in confronting the yellow journalism that cripples the public's need for honest assessment.

And so, the left will continue lope its own head and to cannibalize itself, thus aiding and abetting the right's need to cook its own meal.

I'd be interested in your appraisal of Stacy Abrams comments in this regard.

And I'd further ask if the following from Snopes might give you pause or temper your evaluation of whether you've been played.

s. wallerstein said...

Thomas Jones,

You can see above (8:48 AM) that I linked to an article from the Guardian which shows that Biden's political career in general leaves much to be desired.

I don't consider Biden to be on the left, so I don't see how in ruling him out as a presidential option we on the left are destroying ourselves, as you seem to claim.

LFC said...

I think the main argument, to the extent there is one, in Biden's favor is that he wd run well vs Trump, appealing to some of the disaffected Midwestern voters who went for Trump in 2016. I'm not really convinced of that argument, though. First, it's been a while, as was pointed out above, since he ran for office in his own right (i.e., not for VP). Second, his performance in debates as VP candidate was ok but not anything I recall as terrific (and one of his opponents there was Palin, after all). Third, all politicians talk at excessive length but Biden is an extreme case in my view: he simply does not have a good intuitive sense of when to shut up and almost always keeps talking longer than he should.

LFC said...

And he was one of the least wealthy Senators, yes, but since leaving the vice presidency has accumulated what one newspaper account called a modest fortune of several million dollars, including by public speaking, on at least one occasion in behalf of a Republican [yes, you read that correctly] congressional candidate w whom he had personal ties, despite pleas from the Dem candidate not to do so.

Thomas Jones said...

"You can see above (8:48 AM) that I linked to an article from the Guardian which shows that Biden's political career in general leaves much to be desired."

Let's at least be candid enough to place our respective comments in the context of Prof Wolff's OP, which he characterizes as (perhaps humorously) [a] "not a very elevated observation" while I'm guessing he fails to appreciate the laughable double entendre he's made. He then cites an article that includes a reference to an encounter that is roundly debunked by Snopes and then surprisingly resorts to a "thought experiment" that comically employs Pelosi as its centerpiece.

It should not tax anyone's patience to review my initial comment to observe that my comments are not intended to support a Biden candidacy for Potus, though it should now be apparent with Trump in office to observe "creepier" outcomes. So, let's stop deflecting by talking about whether Biden should be the next Potus and chew on the practical and incisive comments made on the topic by a young black female with political aspirations.

Dean said...

Which encounter does Snopes "roundly debunk"? The HuffPost story to which the professor links refers to a number of incidents, one involving Stephanie Carter. HuffPost reports "a 2015 photograph with the former vice president touching her shoulders." Rather than debunk the story, Snopes confirms it, noting that "the original image showed Biden with his hands on Stephanie Carter’s shoulders." The Snopes link predominantly pertains to the Carter incident, though other women are mentioned in both accounts, and its emphasis is on doctored images that circulate widely online. Needless to say, the original images -- rather, the circumstances under which they were taken -- support concerns about Biden's inability to respect boundaries.

talha said...

Biden is a red herring. If he enters, he'll sink like a lead anchor within weeks, if not days. It's all name recognition + Obama aura, that would've radically dissipated even without the things Prof. Wolff rightly lists (busing, Anita Hill, Iraq War, now power-nuzzling).

As far as I can there are two questions: (a) Will the MSM succeed in marginalizing Bernie enough that Beto-Harris get the nod; or (b) Failing that, will the Establishment pull a 1944-style coup at the Convention?

Anonymous said...

I've been respecting boundaries with an ample margin for all my 60 years. I never married and have no children. I never wanted to be accused of stopping anyone from fulfilling their ambitions.

howard said...

Dear Thomas Jones

People like Trump with charisma even if they're a little weird get a free pass with violating social norms. Trump is creepy and hollow and is weird- but his aura of charisma floods out his creepiness and all the other repulsive and negative qualities- Biden can't get away with creepiness, because he is not charismatic, however likable and the old system which helped gloss and smooth over such creepiness is gone.
At least that's how it looks to me

Thomas Jones said...

Dear Howard,

Thanks for contributing to my personal stockpile of "Most Recheche Comment of the Day."

howard b said...

Thank you, Thomas. I have a long line of sociologists to back me up.
I personally find him a throwback to a subHomeric day and age, but some people, real people I met, who maybe get their news from world wrestling, feel that way about him and charisma, even if the charisma of a feral animal, gets some lucky fellows off the leash