Press: In defense of Joe Biden

I know this will not be popular. It will piss a lot of people off. In fact, it may disqualify me as a progressive. But I rise today in defense of Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump complains of 'fake polls' after surveys show him trailing multiple Democratic candidates Biden pitches new subsidies, public option in health care plan The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - Trump attack on progressive Dems draws sharp rebuke MORE. I think he’s getting a raw deal – from his accuser, the media and his potential 2020 opponents.

First, let me be clear about two things. First, I don’t support Joe Biden for president in 2020. Yes, I proudly supported Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump complains of 'fake polls' after surveys show him trailing multiple Democratic candidates The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - Trump attack on progressive Dems draws sharp rebuke Judd Gregg: Counting the costs of Democrats' desires MORE (I-Vt.) over Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump complains of 'fake polls' after surveys show him trailing multiple Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton responds to Trump tweets telling Dem lawmakers to 'go back' to their countries The Young Turks' Cenk Uygur: Here's how to choose a president MORE in the 2016 Democratic primary, but at this point, I’m not supporting anybody yet for 2020. I don’t care if Biden runs or not. And, even if he does, he may not win the Democratic nomination. Second, I believe everything Lucy Flores says. I believe Biden did what she says he did, and I believe what he did was wrong.

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But I still think Biden’s getting a raw deal, for — what, exactly? That’s part of the problem. Unlike Harvey Weinstein, Charlie RoseCharles Peete RoseScott Pelley: Complaints to execs about 'hostile' workplace led to ouster from CBS Evening News Study finds misconduct is the top reason CEOs are leaving large companies 'Epic' talent shuffle to come to CBS News: report MORE, Bill O’Reilly or Matt LauerMatthew (Matt) Todd LauerMSNBC ripped by Soledad O'Brien after touting female anchors: 'Zero women of color in this picture' Study finds misconduct is the top reason CEOs are leaving large companies Robin Roberts, Gayle King most trusted morning show hosts: poll MORE, Biden’s not being accused of sexual assault, exposing himself or forcing himself on women. Unlike Roger Ailes or Les Moonves, he’s not accused of making sexual favors the price for job promotion. Nor, unlike Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Camerota clashes with Trump's immigration head over president's tweet LA Times editorial board labels Trump 'Bigot-in-Chief' Trump complains of 'fake polls' after surveys show him trailing multiple Democratic candidates MORE, is he accused of grabbing women by their genitals, sticking his tongue in their mouth and then bragging about it.

Far from it. His accuser, Nevada Democratic activist and former lieutenant governor candidate Lucy Flores, is very careful to clear Biden of any suggestion of sexual harassment or assault. Instead, she accuses him of making her “uncomfortable” by allegedly placing his hands not on her breast or genitals, but on her shoulders, while standing behind her,  and planting a kiss, not on her lips or face but on the back of her head, while they were backstage at a 2014 campaign rally, surrounded by dozens of other people.

Nonetheless, Flores told CNN, Biden’s action alone is “disqualifying” for a presidential candidate — suggesting that Biden should not run for president in 2020 because, were he the nominee, Democrats would have difficulty distinguishing his behavior from Donald Trump’s. Oh, please. Flores may have a hard time making that distinction, but nobody else does. Everybody knows one’s a serial sexual predator and one’s not.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe the first rule of the “Me Too” movement should be: Believe the woman. That’s my rule. Again, I believe Lucy Flores. I believe Joe Biden did what she claims he did, I believe it made her uncomfortable, and I believe no man or woman should have to experience being made uncomfortable by anybody else. No man should touch any woman unless invited to, even if, as I truly believe is the case with Joe Biden, it was an innocent gesture that speaks more to his old-school, uber-friendly, hug-everybody personality than any sexual gesture — behavior that may have been acceptable at one time, but is clearly not today.

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But is this really the new test of the “Me Too” Movement? For any movement to survive, its followers must not only be devotedly passionate, but also realistic, willing to distinguish levels of guilt and not condemn everyone with the same broad brush. Otherwise, it risks overreaching and rendering itself meaningless and ineffective.

Surely, even the most ardent feminist must agree: Joe Biden owes Lucy Flores an apology. But in no way should what happened at a campaign rally disqualify him from running for president. Joe Biden is no Donald Trump.

Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”