On Friday, a Democrat named Lucy Flores made some claims against Joe Biden, the former senator and vice president. Biden has been performing his Hamlet act for months, refusing to just come out and say that he’s running for president. I understood why he didn’t run in 2016, so soon after his son passed away, but at this point, I just want him to stop dithering and make up his mind. Not that I would support him if he ran – I feel that Biden’s time in public office is just over at this point. I also feel like his campaign would not withstand the current #MeToo era, and the conversations about consent and what is and is not appropriate.
Which brings me back to Lucy Flores. For years, we’ve known that Joe Biden can get creepy when he’s around women. He’s a touchy, grabby guy – he likes to hug, he likes to touch someone’s face, he likes to get really close to people (to be fair, to both men and women). Lucy Flores was running for lieutenant governor of Nevada in 2014 when then VP Biden came to campaign with her just a few days before the election. Flores describes what happened in the holding room before they stepped on stage for the rally:
I found my way to the holding room for the speakers, where everyone was chatting, taking photos, and getting ready to speak to the hundreds of voters in the audience. Just before the speeches, we were ushered to the side of the stage where we were lined up by order of introduction. As I was taking deep breaths and preparing myself to make my case to the crowd, I felt two hands on my shoulders. I froze. “Why is the vice-president of the United States touching me?”
I felt him get closer to me from behind. He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified. I thought to myself, “I didn’t wash my hair today and the vice-president of the United States is smelling it. And also, what in the actual f–k? Why is the vice-president of the United States smelling my hair?” He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head. My brain couldn’t process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused. There is a Spanish saying, “tragame tierra,” it means, “earth, swallow me whole.” I couldn’t move and I couldn’t say anything. I wanted nothing more than to get Biden away from me. My name was called and I was never happier to get on stage in front of an audience.
By then, as a young Latina in politics, I had gotten used to feeling like an outsider in rooms dominated by white men. But I had never experienced anything so blatantly inappropriate and unnerving before. Biden was the second-most powerful man in the country and, arguably, one of the most powerful men in the world. He was there to promote me as the right person for the lieutenant governor job. Instead, he made me feel uneasy, gross, and confused. The vice-president of the United States of America had just touched me in an intimate way reserved for close friends, family, or romantic partners — and I felt powerless to do anything about it.
Flores goes on to describe how she felt that Biden’s actions were “demeaning and disrespectful,” and how inappropriate the whole thing was in a professional setting. I believe Lucy Flores. I believe her and I believe any and every woman who comes out and says that Biden made her uncomfortable. We’ve seen that time and time again with him – it’s like he has no personal space, or he doesn’t believe women should have personal space. He doesn’t understand what’s appropriate and professional.
Anyway, the immediate reaction from the Biden camp to Ms. Flores was that Biden’s spokesman dismissed her and claimed that Biden had no idea what she was talking about. Then Joe Biden offered this statement: “In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort. And not once – never – did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention.” I believe that HE believes he never acted inappropriately. But that’s because he’s done it to countless women, many of whom were too uncomfortable to say much of anything. Plus, it happens to women more often than men understand – I’m sure every woman has multiple stories about a guy who stands too close, who hugs when he should handshake, who invades our personal space, and on and on.
Photos courtesy of Getty.