There are plenty of legitimate things to criticize Joe Biden for. He has probably the worst instincts on foreign policy of anybody, and his touchy-feely behavior with women and young girls is also troubling. But now Joe Biden is facing accusations of “sexism with a smile” and “casual sexism” for something so incredibly harmless I can’t help but defend him over.
The incident that has Biden facing accusations of sexism occurred at the “LGBTQ Presidential Forum” on Friday that was hosted by GLAAD and the Iowa Gazette. At one point, Biden was asked by Lyz Lenz of the Iowa Gazette about his past support for “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and “The Defense of Marriage Act” and for once calling Vice President Pence “a decent guy.” The line about Pence drew boos from the crowd, and Biden joking responded by telling Lenz, “You’re a lovely person” and smiling.
“You’re a lovely person,” Biden tells the moderator to laugher.
“Just asking the questions people want to know,” she replied pic.twitter.com/DB10NGuBCP
— Molly Nagle (@MollyNagle3) September 21, 2019
As you can see from the above video, Biden’s comment actually drew claps and cheers. At that moment, no one seemed bothered by the comment because it was obvious Biden wanted to inject a little levity into the situation because he was being asked what was obviously a tough question for him to answer.
Afterwards, however, some on the left were triggered by his comment. TIME magazine editor-at-large Anand Giridharadas called Biden’s comment “sexism with a smile.” Jamil Smith, from Rolling Stone accused Biden of exhibiting “Paleolithic behavior” and lamenting that “too many folks will excuse it because they’re used to seeing their male elders act like way.” He added, “There is no such thing as benevolent sexism.” Jodi Jacobson, the editor-in-chief of Rewire.News, tweeted: “I don’t think I ever realized the extent of Biden’s open arrogance. He laughs at questions about race on a debate stage. He uses open condescension and sexism to deflect questions at an #LGBTQforum. clearly does not get it. It’s just so obvious he’s not equipped.” Lynz herself called the comments “a little condescending,” and said that “It’s 2019, you shouldn’t be calling women sweethearts.”
Are you serious? Are men not allowed to hold the door open for women anymore either? Joe Biden may be a sleazeball, but calling Lenz “a lovely person” hardly qualifies as sleazy or sexist. By definition, sexism is prejudice or discrimination based on a person’s sex. Was Biden being prejudiced or discriminatory with that comment? No. Has political correctness gotten so bad that four harmless words are enough to trigger feminists, who liken them to sexism? Nobody in the room seemed to be disturbed by it at the time.
If Joe Biden said anything that was disturbing at the forum, it was his statement that “in prison the determination should be that your sexual identity is defined by what you say it is, not what in fact the prison says it is,” essentially arguing that if you’re a man sent to prison, if you claim you’re a woman, you should be placed in a women’s prison—because that won’t cause any problems, right?
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis