Saturday, March 30, 2019

'Gropin' Joe' Biden Gets Dragged for His Decades of Perverted Sexual Harassment

From the lead at Memeorandum yesterday, "An Awkward Kiss Changed How I Saw Joe Biden."

Added: At the Other McCain, "‘Creepy Uncle Joe’ Gets Busted by #MeToo (Hint: She’s a Bernie Supporter)."

And from perhaps the best feminist writer working today, Rebecca Traister, "Joe Biden Isn’t the Answer":

It’s still three months before the first Democratic debate, nearly a year before Super Tuesday, and he hasn’t even declared yet, but poll after presidential poll continues to show 76-year-old former vice-president Joe Biden leading an enormous, diverse, and talented Democratic field.

It’s almost poetically appropriate. Biden carries himself with the confidence of a winner, despite not having won, or even come close to winning, either of the previous presidential primaries he’s entered. He is the guy whose self-assured conviction that his authority will protect him from rebuke has always preceded him into any room, whose confident sense of his own entitlement repels potential objection like Gore-Tex repels rain. He is the gaffe-master, the affable fuck-up, and also, oddly, the politician who’s supposed to make us feel safe. He is the amiable, easygoing, handsy-but-harmless guy who’s never going to give you a hard time about your own handsiness or prejudice, who’s gonna make a folksy argument about enacting fundamentally restrictive policies.

For his whole career, Biden’s role has been to comfort the lost, prized, and most fondly imagined Democratic voter, the one who’s like him: that guy in the diner, that guy in Ohio, that guy who’s white and so put off by the changed terms of gendered and racial power in this country that decades ago he fled for the party that was working to roll back the social advancements that had robbed him of his easy hold on power. That guy who believed that the system worked best when it worked for him.

Biden is the Democrats’ answer to the hunger to “make America great again,” dressed up in liberal clothes. The New York Times’ Jamelle Bouie has in fact argued that Biden’s racial politics have offered a form of Trumpism on the left, a “liberal cover to white backlash.” To that I would add, he has provided liberal cover to anti-feminist backlash, the kind of old-fashioned paternalism of powerful men who don’t take women’s claims to their reproductive, professional, or political autonomy particularly seriously, who walk through the world with a casual assurance that men’s access to and authority over women’s bodies is natural. In an attempt to win back That Guy, Joe Biden has himself, so very often, been That Guy.

Now it seems, That Guy is widely viewed as the best and safest candidate to get us out of this perilous and scary political period. But the irony is that so much of what is terrifying and dangerous about this time — the Trump administration, the ever more aggressive erosion of voting and reproductive rights, the crisis in criminal justice and yawning economic chasm between the rich and everyone else — are in fact problems that can in part be laid at the feet of Joe Biden himself, and the guys we’ve regularly been assured are Democrats’ only answer.

Biden was first elected to the Senate in 1972, 18 years after Brown v. Board of Education, less than a decade after the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, and just three years after the Supreme Court case Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education would actually force many schools to fulfill the promise of integration put forth by Brown. Biden took office less than three weeks before Roe v. Wade was decided by the Supreme Court and a couple of years before the term “sexual harassment” would be coined by Lin Farley.

It was a period of intense partisan realignment, in response to the upheavals of the 1960s and early ’70s, in which the American left was nervously coalescing around the interests and increased liberties of racial minorities and women, the populations who were forming what would be the most reliable part of its base.

The right, meanwhile, was sucking strength from a backlash against disruptive social movements, growing fat and drunk on the language of piety and family values that would undergird its ultraconservative defense of the old power structures, self-righteously fueling up for the Reagan era. Republicans had, for the foreseeable future, won white men — America’s original citizens, the ones around whom our narratives and priorities are calibrated.

Rather than lean into an energetic defense of the values of liberty, equality, and inclusion that might define their role against the racist and anti-feminist backlash of the era, the Democratic Party appeared anxious to distance itself from being the feminized “mommy party,” and shunt to the side — rather than vigorously advocate for — the priorities of women, especially poor women, and people of color.

The party continued to be represented and led by mostly white men. And while officially Democrats remained on the progressive side, supporting reproductive rights, civil rights, and affirmative action, a contingent of Those Guys, Joe Biden notable among them, made folksy rationalizations for abrogating, rather than expanding and more fiercely protecting, new rights and protections. Those Guys soothed; Those Guys were familiar; Those Guys enjoyed their own power and wanted to reassure everyone that it wasn’t really going to be so dramatically reapportioned.

A young Joe Biden was reliably anti-abortion, claiming that Roe v. Wade “went too far” and that he did not believe that “a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body.” He voted consistently for the Hyde Amendment, the 1976 legislative rider which forbid government-funded insurance programs from paying for abortion, making abortion all but inaccessible to poor people. In 1981, he proposed the “Biden Amendment,” prohibiting foreign aid to be used in any biomedical research related to abortion. The next year, he supported Jesse Helms’s amendment barring foreign NGOs receiving United States aid from using that aid to perform abortion. Biden was one of two Democrats on the Senate Judiciary to vote for the 1982 Hatch Amendment, which would have effectively nullified Roe by turning abortion rights back to federal and state legislatures. At the time, he expressed concern about whether he had “a right to impose” his anti-abortion views on the nation. Then he went ahead and imposed those views anyway.

Over the decades, Biden has evolved on the issue, yet into the 1990s and 2000s, he voted for the so-called “Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.” And he regularly declined to fully support the Freedom of Choice Act, which would have banned the wide variety of oppressive state restrictions on abortion.

Biden’s stances against women’s full reproductive freedom have been key to how he has proudly presented himself to the public. Even in the years since he has officially become pro-choice, he’s retained the sensibility first reflected in his comments about how women shouldn’t be wholly in charge of their own decisions, writing in his 2007 memoir that even though he’d vote against a constitutional amendment barring abortion, “I still vote against partial birth abortion and federal funding, and I’d like to make it easier for scared young mothers to choose not to have an abortion.” His is the language of restrictive authority dressed up as avuncular protectionism.

Biden wasn’t simply a comforter of patriarchal impulses toward controlling women’s bodies. Though he campaigned in 1972 as a strong supporter of civil rights, and initially voted in favor of school busing legislation intended to integrate schools in both the North and South, Biden changed his tune a couple of years into his Senate tenure. Faced with angry pressure from white constituents rearing back from integration measures that would mean busing white children into black neighborhoods, Biden previewed his anti-abortion agreement with Republican Jesse Helms by siding with him on anti-busing measures, calling the approach to school integration “a bankrupt concept” and “asinine policy.” Biden’s anti-busing stance offered an out for his Democratic colleagues, several of whom also turned on busing, helping to defeat the legislation.

In later decades, Biden’s legislative efforts reinforced other kinds of racial disparities...
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