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Joe Biden’s 23-Minute Challenge

This Week in the Narrative 126

As Joe Biden moves through the early stages of another presidential run, he appears ready to stumble into the same quicksand as Hillary Clinton, and it is not clear if he recognizes it.

Last week, no less than eight women came out and accused Biden of inappropriately touching them in an unwanted and unauthorized manner – along with many, many videos and pictures which seem to show this happening to a variety of women and, more disturbingly, children.  

In response, Biden read a statement in which he said the following:

“I shake hands, I hug people, I grab men and women by the shoulders and say, ‘You can do this.’ Whether they are women, men, young, old, it’s the way I’ve always been. It’s the way I show I care about them, that I listen. Social norms have begun to change, they’ve shifted. And the boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset. And I get it. I get it. I hear what they’re saying, I understand it. And I’ll be much more mindful. That’s my responsibility and I’ll meet it.”

He released the statement on Twitter, an effort to interact with the modern age, but still missed the point.

In 1994, the statement likely would have been the end of it, with some still vaguely skeptical, others perhaps still angry, but many thinking, ‘Ah, give the old guy a break, he’s just being friendly.’

The problem is, in this new era, millions have people have seen the videos and pictures of Biden’s actions with their own eyes by now, and what they have seen is that ‘hugging,’ ‘shaking hands,’ even ‘grabbing by the shoulders,’ may not be the best description of what is happening.

A better description might include words like nuzzling, kissing, rubbing, sniffing, groping, as the recipients flinch, move away, scan the room with desperate eyes silently pleading for someone to intervene.

I understand that touching people without their consent must be a strong aphrodisiac for Joe Biden, doubly so when mixed with the aphrodisiac of power which comes from doing it in front of their spouses, parents, in front of television cameras, with no one willing or able to put a stop to it. But surely Biden cannot be so ignorant as to believe he will simply call his actions something they’re not, contrary to what millions have seen with their own eyes, and be done with it.

Or maybe he can be that ignorant …

Two days after he released his statement, Biden gave a speech to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Construction Conference. As he took to the stage, he hugged the man who had introduced him and, with a smirk, told the crowd “I just want you to know. I had permission to hug [him],” drawing uproarious laughter.

It was as if he truly didn’t know that near every person in the room was holding a camera in their hand, that within minutes the quote would be making its rounds on social media as #CreepyUncleJoe became a trending topic, that within hours many pieces would be written on the audacity of a Democratic presidential contender mocking the alleged victims of his assaults mere days after their claims were brought forward.

It seems possible that Joe Biden was actually unaware this was going to happen, and that he might honestly be ignorant of the fact that it is going to happen each and every time he tries a ridiculous manipulation from here on out.

If the fate of his good friends the Clintons is not enough to deter Biden from a hopeless bid for the White House — their legacies exposed by the scrutiny of a new age, their so-called accomplishments disproven and invalidated, their family moved from among political royalty to villains of our time — then perhaps we need to go further.

Thus, I would like personally, and in earnest, to do Joe Biden a favor, though he may not deserve it. I would like to present a real-time example of how the electorate is going to be interacting with his campaign, how they will be interacting with the main narratives he’ll be using.

Hopefully, this will cure his ignorance about what he’s up against and encourage him to retire to a yacht in the Mediterranean, rather than flamethrower his life’s work.

Ready Joe? Alright! Remember, this is in real time.

(The amount of time spent searching for and reading or watching each point is in brackets)

Narrative #1: ‘Joe Biden will win with workers in the Midwestern swing states that Trump won.’

The manifestation of Biden’s nickname, “Scranton Joe.” The implication being that Scranton, Pennsylvania is a hard-working blue-collar town, and thus Joe Biden, who is from there, is a blue-collar representative of the every (wo)man.

Search: ‘Joe Biden’

(30 seconds)

On Biden’s Wikipedia page, the first and easiest example to examine, we see that while Joe was born in Scranton, he moved to Delaware as a child. There, he attended private school before heading off to college then law school in between spring break trips to the Bahamas. In other words, “Scranton Joe” has nothing to do with Scranton. He didn’t go to school there, didn’t play sports there, didn’t work there; his collar shows not even a tinge of blue. In less than a minute we have learned that even Joe Biden’s fun nickname is a manipulation, a lie. This would not have been possible for the first 30-plus years of Biden’s political career.

Search: ‘Joe Biden Workers Rights’

(7 minutes)

A detailed article on Biden’s neoliberal policy history which compares his ‘Scranton Joe’ character to a satirical character in The Onion by saying “neither is actually real.”

Another article detailing Biden’s support for NAFTA — which cost the country something like 1 million jobs — and, more recently, his support for “NAFTA on Steroids,” the TPP. And finally, an article from 2015 asking, with an apparently negative answer, “Can Joe Biden count on union support?”

It seems like with a few minutes of research, blue-collar Midwesterners living in the shadows of burnt-out factories might not be as ‘for’ Joe Biden as he thinks they are.

#2- ‘Joe Biden is tough! He will hammer Trump for his racism;’

Search: “Joe Biden African-American Community History”

(7 minutes)

The first result, an article titled, “Joe Biden’s Problematic Record On Racial Justice Explained.” Then, an article detailing Biden’s support for school segregation in the 1970s, followed by one titled, “Joe Biden, Mass Incarceration Zealot,” which covers his authorship of the 1994 Crime Bill which decimated black communities.

It appears the question of who is racist and who is not isn’t as clear-cut as originally assumed.

#3 – He’ll hammer Trump for his sexism;

Search: ‘Joe Biden Women’s Rights’

(3 Minutes) –

A recent article remembering Biden’s treatment of Anita Hill in 1991. As the article explains:

“Biden was the Senate Judiciary chair when Hill brought allegations that then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her at two different jobs. At the time, he was in charge of overseeing how Hill’s testimony was presented to senators before they decided to confirm Thomas to the Supreme Court.

… [the hearing] was confrontational — and in 1991, the all-white, all-male committee openly questioned her credibility. Biden has been criticized not just for the hearing’s tenor, but also for its structure and his refusal to bring forth additional witnesses who could have substantiated Hill’s allegations.

Add about two minutes and thirty seconds watching a video of Biden groping at women and girls — the longest possible stretch a normal human being could stomach watching at one time — and it appears he might not be much better than the man who says “grab them by the pussy.”

#4 – He’ll hammer Trump for his anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Search: ‘Joe Biden Immigration’

(3 Minutes)

An article titled “Joe Biden, Anti-Immigrant Enabler.”

Uh oh …

If the strategy of Democrats in 2020 is to attack Trump from the moral high ground, it seems that in short order millions of people will be finding out that Joe Biden doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

We’ve been at it now for 23 minutes. That’s how long it has taken for the majority of Joe Biden’s narrative to go up in flames.

Do your thing Joe, but before you do, this is something you should probably recognize is a thing.

Bonus narrative: ‘Joe Biden is the candidate with the best chance to beat Trump.’

This is the main Biden narrative I didn’t yet mention. Truth is, at the moment both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are polling beyond the margin of error ahead of Trump, while all other Democratic candidates lag behind.

But what happens when people with phones in their hands and Twitter on their minds start doing their own version of this 23-minute challenge for Joe Biden? Will he be asking, confused and befuddled about why he is not 50 points ahead? And perhaps, if we are talking frontrunners, we should do this type of 23-minute challenge for Bernie.

Quote of the Week:

Written by Nigel Clarke

Writer and notorious vagabond. From the frozen north. Follow Nigel on Twitter @Nig_Clarke.

Nigel Clarke is a Writer for Progressive Army.

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