Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist. Former Editor-in-Chief of The Moscow News, he is author of the book, ‘Midnight in the American Empire,’ released in 2013.
The nationwide sexual shakedown that first set down its roots in Hollywood has spread cross-country to the US capital. Is anyone safe anymore from charges of improprieties?
Let’s start by saying that any attempt to separate sexual intrigue from the dull political process is about as likely as separating a dog from his bone. It’s not really going to happen. Since the times of Cleopatra and Antony up until the contemporary smashup between Bill and Monica, such salacious tales have provided the public a bit of titillating relief from the mundane and monotonous world of politics.
However, with the dawning of the #MeToo age, it seems that the prying public has pushed the envelope too far, and people now see – or really, really want to see – a dirty indiscretion in the most innocent gestures. At least that is what Barack Obama’s former vice president, Joe Biden, would argue.
By now, most people have read the stories and seen the videos of ‘Creepy Joe’ Biden, who seems to have the worst case of touchy-feeliness ever documented in a public official. At the time of writing, seven women have come forward to claim that the possible 2020 presidential candidate had touched them in such a way that made them feel uncomfortable.
In the year 2019, any celebrity or public official accused of such horrible deeds faces a most uncertain future. Indeed, it is all too easy to imagine a big black hearse coming to haul Biden away to the political graveyard any day now.
There are two possible reasons to explain why Biden, 76, acted in such an open way with not only women, but young girls as well. The first explanation is that Biden felt comfortably empowered enough to behave exactly the way he did. In other words, he abused his powers. After all, what person is really going to challenge the second most powerful official in the US government as his nose is planted deep in their hair on live television? That is reportedly what happened to Nevada legislator, Lucy Flores, who said that Biden allegedly held her shoulders, sniffed her hair and kissed her head back in 2014.
However, photos, like words, are sometimes deceiving. This leads us to the second explanation.
In February 2015, for example, Joe Biden was present at the swearing-in ceremony for Ashton Carter as the US Secretary of Defense. As Carter thanked the assembled audience for the honor, the ‘creepy’ VP is seen standing directly behind Carter’s wife, Stephanie. Almost like clockwork, Biden places both hands on her shoulders as he whispers ‘sweet nothings’ into her ear.
The spectacle lasted for only a few seconds, but it seemed sufficiently shocking enough for even CNN to mention it. In other words, here we have a definitive #MeToo moment. But wait, not so fast. Before calling in the Inquisition, what did Stephanie Carter, the women on the receiving end of those purportedly unwelcomed caresses, think about the situation? Carter says she did not perceive anything wrong with Biden’s physical gestures and in fact welcomed them (!).
“The Joe Biden in my picture is a close friend helping someone get through a big day, for which I will always be grateful,” she wrote. “[H]is attempt to support me had become a joke and… supposed proof positive that he didn’t understand how to respect women.”
Is Stephanie Carter, as a Democrat, attempting to protect a very powerful man who is expected to launch a challenge against Donald Trump for the highest office in the land, or were the former vice president’s actions, as she claims them to be, completely innocent and sincere? We may never know the truth, but Biden has defended himself, saying his past actions have been misinterpreted by a new, more anxious generation.
“In my career, I’ve always tried to make a human connection,” Biden said in a Tweet where he attempted to explain himself. “It’s just who I am… but I will be more mindful and respectful of people’s personal space.”
Whether Biden can save his reputation and take on Trump – who himself has come under fire for sexual discrepancies that did not sink his political ambitions – remains to be seen.
Biden is certainly not the first, or the last, Washington official to feel the fury of the self-righteous #MeToo movement. Brett Kavanaugh, for example, had nearly every detail of his life – both real and imagined – dragged out in a high-profile case in the course of his Supreme Court nomination process. Just as his confirmation process was about to conclude, Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein produced accusations by one Christine Blasey Ford, who claimed Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in 1982, while the two were in high school.
The timing of the revelations were suspicious, but not as suspicious as the testimony provided by Kavanaugh’s accuser. Although Ford seems to have been assaulted in her school days by someone, she failed to recall any evidence that could link Kavanaugh to the alleged crimes.
In an emotional statement before the US Senate Panel, Kavanaugh, who eventually was elected as a judge to the nine-member Supreme Court, lashed out at the process, saying “my family and my name have been totally and permanently destroyed by vicious and false additional accusations.” The media did its share of portraying Kavanaugh in the worst imaginable light, despite the fact that the evidence against him was so flimsy.
Such is the power of #MeToo. Although it would be difficult to deny the positive accomplishments of this movement – no woman (or man) should ever have to endure a workplace environment where sexual predation is practically institutionalized as it was in Hollywood – there remains the possibility that the #MeToo bandwagon will be summoned as an effective tool for destroying the reputation of a political opponent.
Another grave consequence of the #MeToo uprising is that it has greatly reduced the political currency of many good men. In other words, why would Donald Trump, or some other future US leader, risk yet another down-to-the-wire show trial as was the case with Brett Kavanaugh, when nominating an equally competent woman for the position would have been the less-aggravating option?
In fact, that is exactly the unfortunate conclusion that some people are beginning to make.
“Few men of Kavanaugh’s generation and privileged status can be presumed to be entirely safe from the possibility of an incident of sexual misconduct,” Ed Kilgore argued in the Intelligencer. The author, who seems to believe that ‘privileged status’ is somehow automatically connected to sexual deviance, concluded with some very regrettable comments, saying that Donald Trump, a “frequently accused sexual predator” should have known better than to have made the “supreme mistake” of nominating a man like Brett Kavanaugh.
Clearly, if the #MeToo movement succeeds in driving out all of the sexual predators from the world of entertainment, business and politics, it may also succeed in driving out all of the most qualified men as well. This is the perfect example of a movement going too far, cutting down the apple orchard to kill off a few bad worms. Is there a future for men in the brave new #MeToo world?
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
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