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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 BidenNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter Trump narrows Biden's lead in Pennsylvania: poll Florida breaks first-day early voting record with 350K ballots cast 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 SandersThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Goldman Sachs - Tipping point week for Trump, Biden, Congress, voters Biden and Schumer face battles with left if Democrats win big Push to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw MORE (I-Vt.) over Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonLate night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study 10 steps toward better presidential debating Continuity is (mostly) on the menu for government contracting in the next administration 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 RoseIranian official maintains Tehran has 'no knowledge' of American hostage's whereabouts 'Bombshell' bombing at box office isn't exactly a shock — here's why '60 Minutes' producer alleges CBS News retaliated after she reported inappropriate behavior MORE, Bill O’Reilly or Matt LauerMatthew (Matt) Todd LauerComcast shareholders reject proposals for outside sexual harassment investigation at NBC Ronan Farrow fires back at Matt Lauer 'shoddy journalism' accusation: 'Just wrong' Megyn Kelly calls independent Tara Reade interview the 'wave of the future' 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 TrumpNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter DC correspondent on the death of Michael Reinoehl: 'The folks I know in law enforcement are extremely angry about it' Late night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study 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.”