Neal: Biden’s conduct not ill-intended, but not OK

As allegations of misconduct from former Vice President Joe Biden roll in, many Democrats continue to roll their eyes. But isn’t this hypocritical?


Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the Cedar Rapids Early Vote Rally at the Veterans Memorial Building in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, October 30, 2018. The event featured remarks from Iowa Democratic Candidate for Governor Fred Hubbell, Iowa First Congressional District candidate Abby Finkenauer, and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Madeleine Neal, Opinions Columnist

I have loved Joe Biden since my interest in politics began in middle school.

I remember watching former President Obama’s inauguration in January 2009, with then-Vice President Biden right beside him.

So naturally, when rumors began to swirl about a possible Biden 2020 run, I was ecstatic.

But then came the Lucy Flores allegations.

To get anyone who’s been living under a rock caught up on the situation, Flores, a Democrat, said Biden had touched her without her consent.

There’ve been numerous theories about Flores’ allegations. Some of the most popular claims involve Flores’ timing and the fact that she’s a famous Bernie Sanders supporter just trying to sabotage Biden’s campaign.

Mind you, Biden has yet to announce his presidential bid.

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Let’s get one thing straight: I’m not here to bash Biden or Flores. I’m not here to throw Biden under the bus and say he’s a predator, because truth be told, I don’t necessarily believe that.

What I do believe is, though likely unintentional, Biden made Flores uncomfortable. And that’s not OK.

Biden himself has acknowledged the allegations since, even after Amy Lappos of Connecticut said his touching made her uncomfortable, too.

When I heard these allegations, as a Democrat and longtime Biden advocate, I did not question these women’s’ intentions.

Why, you ask? Because I have been a die-hard advocate for survivors of any sexual misconduct — even if the unwanted advance wasn’t intended to be predatory.

I’ve seen so many people claim to be pro-survivor, yet bash Flores and Lappos for coming forward. These people justify said actions by claiming the word “survivor” only applies to those they want it to apply to — that Biden’s actions were nothing but an attempt to signal friendship and comfort.

Like I said, that may very well have been his intention, but for these women, the repercussions were discomfort. They felt violated.

Invalidating these women’s experiences because one doesn’t feel they are relevant enough in comparison to those of “real” survivors is hypocritical and wrong. It engenders a dangerous narrative cultivating a fear to vocalize boundaries.

It deepens the intense hypocrisy that has existed in politics since its literal beginning.

I also see my fellow leftists referring to these allegations as a “witch hunt” against Biden. But this “witch-hunt” theory could be silencing other women, who may have also been made uncomfortable, from coming forward.

Weren’t we, the Democrats, the ones disavowing those claiming Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations against Justice Brett Kavanaugh were a witch hunt?

Weren’t we the ones preaching zero tolerance? Holding men accountable for their actions?

“Flores survived what? An act of friendship?”

That’s a comment I’ve seen on more than one occasion. Here’s something sure to rile up the comment section: There was still nonconsensual touching involved. Period. That cannot be argued or glossed over.

I know Biden has been a longtime advocate for women. I have followed his “It’s on Us” efforts to fight sexual assault on college campuses. I’m not denying any of that. What I’m saying is none of his noble acts give him immunity from being held accountable for the perception of his actions.