What Should We Make of Joe Biden?

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Everyone’s talking about Joe Biden. In the past week, several women have said the former vice president and senator, who is mulling a 2020 run, made them uncomfortable with his overly familiar style of touching—his “tactile” style, as he has called it. Others have come to his defense, saying Biden’s warm approach has made them feel more comfortable in awkward situations. In response, Biden released a video promising to do better. “I’ve always tried to make a human connection,” he said. “Social norms have begun to change … and the boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset, and I get it, I get it.”

So we asked some of the most interesting women we know what they make of this: Does his behavior bother them, and is it disqualifying for 2020? Here’s what they had to say.

‘He’s a relic from a previous era’

Amanda Marcotte is author of It’s a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments.

Biden’s behavior, as the women who complained about it have said, doesn’t rise to the level of sexual harassment, and as such, it’s not disqualifying on its own. But it is indicative of a larger problem with Biden even considering running in the race, which is that he’s a relic from a previous era, when casual sexism was the norm and white male entitlement was unchallenged. The Democrats have a number of much better candidates who are diverse, progressive and forward-thinking to choose from, and any of them would make a much better contrast with Trump in the general election.

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