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March 24, 2023

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Biden’s Touch, Appropriate or Not?

Joe Biden, Munich Security Conference, CC BY-NC-SA

Joe Biden, Munich Security Conference,

When Vice President Joe Biden put his hands on the shoulders of our new defense secretary’s wife this week, was it a giant etiquette faux pas or simply an innocent display of affection?

As her husband, Ash Carter, spoke a few feet away, a standing Biden put both hands on the shoulders of Stephanie Carter, then whispered something in her ear.

Biden’s fans say that his action signified nothing and that as seasoned politician he has a
long history of hugging women — and men — in public. But detractors and a Joe Biden variety of etiquette experts said he appeared to make Stephanie Carter uncomfortable and, as such, was wrong.

We’ve all seen men and women do exactly the same thing to other men and women at countless public events — without it raising eyebrows or having people immediately assume that one person is hitting on the other or invading his or her space.

Which raises this question: in our current culture of violence and hatred, is there anything wrong with public displays of innocent affection? Wasn’t there a time in our not-so-distant past when “bro-hugs” — now commonplace — raised eyebrows?

What’s your opinion? Did Biden over-touch or were his actions perfectly justified?

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