Dems Rediscover Nuance to Save Biden

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Democrats and media pundits are conflicted after a slew of allegations of “inappropriate” behavior preempted Joe Biden’s potential presidential candidacy announcement.

No one is accusing Biden of blatant sexual harassment, let alone rape. But lengthy cringe-inducing compilations of the former vice president being handsy and perhaps overly affectionate, along with various first-hand accounts, have raised questions about whether he is the right candidate for a party that has become increasingly sensitive to any trace of impropriety.

Battling columns in the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, and a myriad of other publications have struggled with how the party that championed the #MeToo movement and aggressively attacked Justice Brett Kavanaugh should deal with Creepy Uncle Joe.

Many have come to Biden’s defense and have called for us to “look at Biden’s life’s work in its totality.” Mika Brzezinski slammed the accusations as “ridiculous,” saying that Biden is a “nice guy.” Hostesses on “The View” questioned the motivations behind the accusers, asking why they didn’t come forward before Biden’s potential run.

But both the positive and the negative coverage of Biden’s conduct has been laced with something that we haven’t seen in a while when it comes to claims of misconduct. For once, we see a semblance of nuance.

When female colleagues and friends of Brett Kavanaugh hit the airwaves to lend support for his nomination to the Supreme Court, they were roundly denounced. We heard that the positive experiences of scores of women over decades of interaction should have no bearing on how we viewed Kavanaugh. We were told that Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations alone should be enough to disqualify his nomination.

But we are now told that we should consider the outpouring of support for Biden from his female colleagues and friends; that these personal anecdotes add “more information to the unwritten story of Joe Biden.” Imagine—no, we don’t have to imagine, just recall— the scornful responses that were unleashed every column claiming to “add more information to the unwritten story of Brett Kavanaugh.”

Biden’s supporters must understand the jarring double standard they are demanding. They take extreme care to claim their experiences do not “discount the writings of any other women or question their right to be heard” and emphasize that they are not “questioning anyone else’s experiences with Biden.” But when the next phrase after that carefully constructed qualification is “his penchant for showing affection has absolutely nothing to do with him not respecting a woman’s agency over her own body,” the message is clear.

Why else would someone write a column cataloging her positive experiences with Biden? Is there any point other than to cast doubt on the severity of the claims and the accuracy of the accuser’s perception of impropriety? The purpose of these columns is to add positive narratives to dilute the negative ones—quite literally discounting the writings of other women.

To be clear,  there is nothing wrong with this.

These narratives are often helpful. We have all had experiences where we felt uncomfortable because of someone’s behavior only later to learn that we misinterpreted the situation. Imagine if To Kill a Mockingbird ended with a media firestorm with Scout, Jem, and all the other children of Maycomb writing columns and booking television appearances to recount how Boo Radley—the notorious recluse who ends up saving the children’s lives—made them feel uncomfortable.

But these columns lay bare the double standard, a double standard that is obvious and sickening.

If Democrats and the media gave one quarter of their newfound nuance and care to Kavanaugh’s case, we may have avoided the profound discord and ugliness that visited Washington last fall. We may have worked through some of the more difficult questions that plague gender relations in an age of rapidly shifting mores and norms. Who knows?

But it is increasingly clear that our newfound delicacy in male/female relations has nothing to do with propriety and everything to do with politics. This double standard is intentional. And no one should have any delusions that Democrats and the media would have spared one iota of nuance if Biden’s name was followed by an “R” instead of a “D.” Although many conservatives are willing to give the benefit of the doubt to their opponents, the Left is hell-bent on destroying their political enemies. At any cost. And if the Democrats throw their lot in with the Left, they will reap what they sow.

We shouldn’t buy that the crocodile tears and the calls for nuance are indicative of anything but an attempt to save one of their own.

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Photo credit:  SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages

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About Karl Notturno

Karl Notturno is a Mount Vernon Fellow of the Center for American Greatness in addition to being an entrepreneur, musician, and writer. He recently graduated from Yale University with degrees in philosophy and history. He can be found on Twitter @karlnotturno.