A second woman has come forward to complain about Joe Biden’s habit of being touchy-feely with women he doesn’t know. The Hartford Courant spoke to Amy Lappos about an incident that she says occurred at a political fundraiser in 2009. Lappos was working as a congressional aid to Rep. Jim Himes and was 33-years-old at the time Biden approached her:
“It wasn’t sexual, but he did grab me by the head,” Amy Lappos told The Courant Monday. “He put his hand around my neck and pulled me in to rub noses with me. When he was pulling me in, I thought he was going to kiss me on the mouth.”…
“I never filed a complaint, to be honest, because he was the vice president. I was a nobody,” Lappos said. “There’s absolutely a line of decency. There’s a line of respect. Crossing that line is not grandfatherly. It’s not cultural. It’s not affection. It’s sexism or misogyny.”
“If Biden truly supports women and gender equality he would step aside and support one of the many talented and qualified women running,” she said. “The same goes for the other men who have thrown their hat in the ring. Women are 52 percent of the population. We are not a minority, we are the majority. It is time we are represented as such. After 45 male presidents it is time we elect a woman.”
The Hartford Courant has photos of Biden and Lappos together at the event in question so there’s no doubt what she describes could have happened. Lappos first revealed the story on Facebook under the pseudonym Alice Paul. In her Facebook comment, she wrote, “shame on some of the women here excusing this as boys being boys or it’s not as bad as Trump. I can speak from experience when I say it’s an incredibly uncomfortable situation and not at all acceptable.”
The Trump comparison is inevitable so we might as well mention it. Trump has been accused of groping, grabbing and kissing by more than a dozen women. Most of those women came forward after the release of the Access Hollywood tape in which Trump said, “I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it, you can do anything … grab them by the pussy.” He later apologized for what he called “locker room” talk.
The Biden situation is less obviously sexual. His touching seems to be mostly (though not exclusively) focused on shoulders and the kissing isn’t generally on the lips. Still, the way he comes up behind women and leans around to whisper in their ears is very intimate and obviously awkward. If there’s a sense in which it’s “better” that doesn’t mean it’s good.
And it’s worth noting that all of Biden’s touching seems to involve younger women who work in politics. Maybe that’s just because those are the women he’s around or maybe it’s because that’s the arena in which he’s a powerful figure. As Lappos says, she didn’t file a complaint because he was the VP. Lucy Flores hesitated to come forward with her story, perhaps because Biden is a powerful figure. This is how some powerful men operate. They don’t select their targets at random, they pick out people who have something to lose or to gain from their favor, knowing those women will be less likely to say anything.
Biden has clearly done this in public and private for a long time. Lappos apparently came forward in reaction to people who were downplaying Flores’ account. So far Biden has avoided denials and says he’s listening. But at some point, they’ll need to put this aside and move on if he’s going to run. I suspect that’s when more women will come forward. The real question for Biden’s nascent campaign is how many more of these stories are out there.