All I know is if you can’t touch someone without their permission anymore, then put my picture on the wall at the post office. How do we know how to behave with each other? Do we walk into a room and say “Hey, are you a hugger? I’m a hugger.” Deb Kozikowski, Massachusetts Democratic Party Vice-Chairperson
Speaker Nancy Pelosi advised Joe Biden and, by extension, other hugging types that we need “to understand that in the world we are in now people’s space is important to them and what’s important is how they receive it, not necessarily how you intended it.”
She’s right, and I hate it. I not only hug trees, I hug people. And sometimes give them a buss on the cheek or a peck on the lips.
Pelosi suggested he and we, “Join the straight-arm club. Just pretend you have a cold and I have a cold.”
Dear Madame Speaker: I love you, but. Perhaps, an elbow-rub to avoid any suspicion of mal-intention? After all, an open hand can be misconstrued in so many ways.
The recent hoopla about Biden speaks more about America rather than about Mr. Affectionate. Pelosi was right; our culture has changed. But though that change is generally for the better, there are disconcerting outcomes of it.
America is becoming atomized. Individuals create and maintain personal space and establish boundaries like suburban backyards with six-foot privacy fences. NO TRESPASSING! No entry without permission.
That didn’t originate with #MeToo movement, but it has put it on steroids by equating well-intentioned and socially inept, bumbling actions to moral depravity.
Sin. The Great Depowerer. What is it? Who determines it? What are its consequences? Looming questions since the First Couple got booted for committing the First Sin by eating from the Tree of Knowledge.
When it comes to personal behavior, one person’s sin can be another’s freedom. Women and LGBTQ’s have felt and still feel the yoke of repression and ostracization by certain religions and in parochial cultural arenas. In them, ownership of and freedom to control one’s body and to marry a same-sex person are anathema.
That has political-power implications, something Republicans and conservatives understand instinctively. One wishes they would be more attentive about the niceties of personal behavior when it comes to their own.
The Republican Party has become the political manifestation of fundamentalist Christianity. No separation of church and state there.
The Democratic Party is on the verge of becoming the Doppelganger of the Republican Party. It seems intent on instituting a strict set of precepts and behavioral codes, unforgiveable transgressions—mortal sins, in Catholic terminology—from which there is no absolution or redemption. They center on gender, race, and sexuality, but overlap on nonpersonal issues such as health care and fracking.
Purity. Be like Ivory soap—99.44% pure—or be toast.
What began as a serious, courageous effort to call down men that mistreated, abused, and debased women is having a Chicken-Little moment. Like #MeToo, Al Franken has become a verb. Yes, he pulled idiotic, debasing, and humiliating pranks. A “tactile” form of personal interaction is Joe’s MO. And, yes, he was dead wrong in the Anita Hill hearings. Yet, both have worked to advance justice and right wrongs such as Biden’s Violence Against Women Act.
Are their offenses so heinous, so unforgiveable and are the men so irredeemable that an apology accompanied by a commitment to be and do better aren’t enough? If not, etch an 11th Commandment on the Democratic Party’s Stone Tablet: Thou shalt pay for past transgressions no matter how minor or great with eternal exile to political hell. Only the pure of mind and touch need apply.
In today’s Democratic Party FDR and JFK wouldn’t stand a chance. And that wouldn’t be a good thing.
Read Tim Miller’s commentary on The Bulwark website: https://thebulwark.com/joe-biden-deserves-better-than-this/