Stephanie Carter is the wife of former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. You may know her from the picture taken during her husband’s swearing-in on February 17, 2015. Vice-President Joe Biden has both hands on her shoulders as he stands behind her. Yeah, it’s a creepy photo.
Now that Creepy Uncle Joe is coming under attack for past pervy gestures with women who are not his wife, Mrs. Carter has come to his aid. After four years worth of seeing that photo periodically in social media in conjunction with inappropriate workplace behavior and the #MeToo movement, suddenly Mrs. Carter has published a piece on Medium that is to tell her story in her own words. It’s like her “close friend” Joe is contemplating a third run for president or something, and a clean-up on aisle three may be needed in light of the recent accusation of improper behavior by a former staffer.
See, Good ole Joe wasn’t being all touchy-feely with Stephanie Carter. He was supporting her after a hectic morning at Arlington Cemetary with her husband before the swearing-in ceremony. At the Pentagon, she slipped and fell on some ice. The press tweeted that out and she was feeling self-conscious about the mishap, as anyone would. Who among us hasn’t fallen or tripped in front of strangers and immediately looked around to gauge how many people may have seen it? Over the years I can count several such experiences. It happens.
When Mrs. Carter arrived at the White House for the ceremony, a reporter asked her if she was “doing all right” and this momentarily threw her. Then, she writes, she remembered the tidbit about her fall earlier in the day had been reported. This rattled her self-confidence and she was feeling a bit nervous, which she says is very unusual for her. When Biden entered the room he could tell she was nervous, she says, and he leaned in to hug her and thank her for “allowing” her husband to do the job. He kept his hands on her shoulders “as a means of offering his support”. It was just a moment shared between close friends, you know. (Medium)
Later, we went to the White House for the swearing-in and I was feeling self-conscious and tentative (not a normal state for those who know me) about the fall — and perhaps about how much our life might change. As we walked in the room, reporters were staged and a young woman from Huffington Post shouted to me to ask if I was doing all right — I was somewhat thrown (did I not look all right?) but quickly remembered news of my fall on the ice had traveled. By the time then-Vice President Biden had arrived, he could sense I was uncharacteristically nervous- and quickly gave me a hug. After the swearing in, as Ash was giving remarks, he leaned in to tell me “thank you for letting him do this” and kept his hands on my shoulders as a means of offering his support. But a still shot taken from a video — misleadingly extracted from what was a longer moment between close friends — sent out in a snarky tweet — came to be the lasting image of that day.
The Carters and the Bidens have a long history of friendship, she says, that went back long before he was the vice-president. All of this was taken out of context by those pesky reporters, you see, and she wants to speak up about the story. It’s her story to tell, after all, even if it is four years later.
She said she apologized to the Bidens when she next saw them, as she was feeling embarrassed about the attention in the press. She had hoped it would all blow over but that photo just keeps popping up. Those darn reporters.
Meanwhile, when I next saw the Bidens, I told them I felt awful that after he had generously taken time out of his day to swear in an old friend, his attempt to support me had become a joke and even more — supposed proof positive that he didn’t understand how to respect women. I thought it would all blow over if I didn’t dignify it with a response. But clearly that was wishful thinking.
I understand her wanting to come to the aid of her friend, her “close friend”, her “old friend”. What she doesn’t do is go into detail with the kind of chumminess they may have. Does Biden normally embrace her or rest his hands on her shoulders for any length of time? Is he handsy with her husband, too? The problem is that Joe Biden has the reputation as one of not keeping his hands to himself and also of inappropriately kissing women, too. In the past, certainly, when he was Obama’s vice-president, the press just brushed it off as Joe being Joe because they were only too happy to give the old guy a pass. They like him, they really, really like him. So, no one really questioned Biden’s behavior and certainly, none of the women involved came forward to say, hey, he’s acting badly. Now that he may jump into the 2020 Democrat primaries, the gloves are coming off. Good ole Joe is still leading in the polls over everyone, by some twenty points according to the latest polling, and he hasn’t even formally declared himself a candidate.
Biden has been given a pass for years, especially from women on the left, because he positions himself as a champion of women. The press was only too happy to go along with his narrative. We may now see more honest reporting from those in the press who might like to help propel different candidates forward in the primary process. Think of the adoring press coverage Kamala Harris gets from women reporters on the campaign trail, for example. What about those in the press who would love to see Bernie Sanders succeed this time around or those who are fully dwelling within the Betomania bubble? None of them are thrilled to see Joe Biden taking up so much oxygen. Creepy Uncle Joe wasn’t prepared for the pushback he saw over the weekend and now we wait and see if he rises above it all or if he caves and decides to skip his third run for president.
The genie is out of the bottle now and it’s not blowing over.