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 BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenElection analyst says Biden could face uphill battle attracting small-dollar donors Biden's announcement was a general election message, says political analyst Gillibrand 'not worried' about being 'discounted' in 2020 race 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 SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersElection analyst says Biden could face uphill battle attracting small-dollar donors Gillibrand 'not worried' about being 'discounted' in 2020 race Biden's sloppy launch may cost him MORE (I-Vt.) over Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonForget the spin: Five unrefuted Mueller Report revelations Former senators launching effort to help Dems win rural votes Biden's announcement was a general election message, says political analyst 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 RoseEx-CBS executive: Network 'has a white problem across the board' Press: In defense of Joe Biden Fewer men say sexual harassment in the workplace is major problem: Gallup MORE, Bill O’Reilly or Matt LauerMatthew (Matt) Todd LauerPress: In defense of Joe Biden Fewer men say sexual harassment in the workplace is major problem: Gallup Jenna Bush Hager named as Gifford replacement on 4th hour of 'Today' 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 TrumpForget the spin: Five unrefuted Mueller Report revelations Lara Trump: Merkel admitting migrants 'one of the worst things that ever happened to Germany' Financial satisfaction hits record high: survey 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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.”