• Daniel Ethan Finneran

Hoary or Horny?

April 2019


Assuming the two are mutually exclusive, which with disquieting frequency has proven not always to be the case, the Democratic Party will have to decide the following about Joe Biden: is he, in its delayed recognition that his tendency is to be, how shall we put it, exceedingly friendly with the females around whom he passes his time, hoary or horny?

Personally, I cringe at having to put the terms in so blunt a way. I don’t mean to be loose, nor do I fancy myself characteristically irreverent or ribald, but we’re living in an admittedly blunt and cringeworthy age.


And so, the question must be asked. Are the Democrats to regard Biden’s rediscovered demonstrations of affection as the benign and easy cordialities of a career politician or the evil and insidious advances of a predator? Are they idiosyncrasies or indiscretions? Is his way of conducting himself in public consistent with the innocent habits of an elder statesman, one born and reared in the warmth and intimacy of a bygone tactile political age (as the Washington Post put it), or is his way not at all political, but exploitatively sexual? Is Biden, a former Senator who was for years lauded for his distinctively personal touch, to be considered senescent or prurient? Is he ham-handed with his gratuitous hugs or malicious with his intent? Is he harmless or destructive? Is he merely intimate or profligate? Ultimately, the question is whether he’s innocent or guilty of having perpetrated the most inexcusable of sins: being a physically-touchy, publicly-scrutinized old white man.


Confronting this uniquely American albatross (few other Western nations hold in contempt so large a segment of their population), Biden is burdened with these questions and more. At the time of this writing, at least a half dozen women—of whom a few have serious, a few others have dubious, and most have scurrilous qualms to raise—have made public their “intimate” experiences with the former Vice President. I enclose the word, “intimate” in marks of quotation because most of these experiences seem to have happened in the presence of hundreds or thousands of people. The bridge between intimacy and publicity seems not to have been crossed, but it could be that my perception isn’t adequately sensitive to these sensitive matters. How intimate really could it have been to have been hugged or nuzzled by the Vice President in front of multitudinous cameras, constituents, and fans?


Nevertheless, their shared memories are consistent and therefore warrant our consideration. They demand, at the very least, our attention, deliberation, and our judgement. Consistently uncomfortable, each experience described was extraordinarily awkward, particularly those captured on film of Biden embracing children and adolescents on C-SPAN. Yet because they’re on that very network—what I’ve come to regard as the last bastion of the bored and underemployed—these episodes of Biden are seemingly innocuous and for that reason completely mundane.


In each case so far presented, Biden seems to have approached the woman by whom he’s now accused with what seems to have been an innocent intent. A man of profound sentimental depth (as was displayed grippingly after the premature loss of his son Bo), Biden throughout his career has tended to exude rather empathy than venery. Many women, including the wife of the former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and the conservative pundit Laura Ingraham, have openly made this point. Both say that Biden, during their respective interactions with the man, conducted himself with the utmost gentility and adroitness—even if he was a little bit more “handsy” than is to be expected of most other men. But this, at the time, was of no concern to them, just as it was of no concern to the women who are now alleging indecency on Biden’s part.


The latter of these women seem to be under the Cimmerian influence of ill-motive. Political machinations seemingly abound. Lucy Flores, the Nevada politician for whom Biden has to thank for starting this slow-rolling cause célèbre, was the first to raise an objection to the tactility of Biden’s brand of politics. After writing a sensational op-ed in New York Magazine’s “The Cut”, Flores was featured as an evocative and special guest on all the mainstream networks. On air, she alleged that then Vice President Biden had “inappropriately kissed and touched her” at an event in Las Vegas after offering his assistance for her 2014 campaign. Similarly, a Connecticut politician by the name of Amy Lappos described her experience with Biden that occurred in 2009. In the case of Lappos, instead of the posterior approach with a kiss on the back of the head (as was used on Flores), Biden opted to advance from the front where he proceeded to rub noses with the startled aide.


It’s not unusual for there to be a delayed reaction between the time of a woman’s harassment, maltreatment, or assault and that of the public declaration of her chilling experience. One can only imagine (and hope never to feel) the anguish and uncertainty with which so unfortunate a woman might struggle for that duration of time. Nevertheless, during the entirety of the Obama tenure, of which Biden was obviously an essential piece, neither of their stories (nor those of purportedly countless other women) broke through into the media’s consciousness. A peep was never uttered. Indeed, one woman named Sofie Karasek—who’s currently joining her indignant sisters in pointing an accusatorial finger at Biden—had in her office during that time a framed picture of herself and the Vice President. Sure enough, the two are involved in what we’d now prudishly come to declare as being an intimate embrace. Apparently a highly-valued memento of inspiration and pride, Karasek’s photo with Biden caused in her disquiet only after the passage of three years. Only now, when the gates were opened on Biden, has it become an image of impropriety and a reason for her to speak out. Previously, while framed in her room, if it wasn’t merely a strong testament to the success of her cause (she’s an advocate for the rights of sexual abuse survivors), it was an entirely innocuous piece of her history.


One mustn’t hasten to judgment, but these accusations carry the foul scent of ginned-up machinations. It’s been shown to be the case that a few of these women accusing Joe Biden of loutish behavior are dedicated supporters of other Democratic presidential candidates (namely of Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke). The smell of manufactured outrage for the purpose of chopping down Biden’s candidacy is redolent—and he’s not even yet formally to have declared.


And so, between this moment and the moment when he finally does, the Democratic Party will have to make its decision. More than that, it’s a decision by which it'll have to live unanimously and forcefully if it's to coalesce behind a man in an effort to defeat Donald Trump. Joe Biden, in the final tally, is either avuncular or amorous. What’s certain is that he can’t be both. For him, the former means the presidency. The latter, lechery. It’s now for the Democrats to decide and a fate for Biden to accept.

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Success, ‘tis said, yet more success begets– On the prosperous rains ever more profits. So reads the adage of the Gospel’s Jew: The iron law, the Effect of Matthew. “To him who has much, more will be