Biden Jokes About Hugging Someone in First Speech Since Allegations Emerged

Biden undercuts his own message of promising to do better.

Joe Biden has been under fire for days for invading the personal space of women with unwanted hugs, touching, even at least one kiss on the head. The uproar has been so loud that he made a video this week in which he struggled to apologize, to say that he heard women on the issue and would do better.

Natrually, then, it is fair to wonder why he thought opening a speech on Friday with a joke about the complaints was a wise idea.

Biden was speaking at the convention of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Right before he came out onstage, Biden apparently hugged Lonnie Stephenson, the head of union.

Then he said this: “I just want you to know, I had permission to hug Lonnie.”

The line got such a big laugh from the crowd that later, Biden repeated it when he put his arm around a young boy who had been brought up onstage with some other kids.

Perhaps the positive reception to the jokes indicates a wider dismissal of the complaints against Biden. But it is hard to see how joking about this does not undercut his promise of trying to do better that was the central message of the video he released just 48 hours ago.

Watch the video up top, via MSNBC.


Gary Legum has written about politics and culture for Independent Journal Review, Salon, The Daily Beast, Wonkette, AlterNet and McSweeney's, among others. He currently lives in his native state of Virginia.