Depending on who you ask, former Vice President Joe Biden is a formidable opponent for Donald Trump in 2020, a bumbling idiot, or even a sexual predator. Biden has been seen on countless videos kissing, caressing, and otherwise touching females of all ages in ways that many find inappropriate. Many others say, however, that he means nothing by it, and certainly wasn’t intending to cause harm. So the question becomes two-fold:
- Is he aware that it is inappropriate?
- Is he regretful and remorseful that he has caused harm?
To answer these questions, we look at a statement he made in March of 2019 regarding the situation.
“In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort,” Biden said in a statement. “And not once – never – did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention.”
Let’s break that down, using statement analysis principles. We’ll denote the original remarks in bold type. Keep in mind that as with every analysis, we begin with an absolute belief in the subject’s innocence and truthfulness. For us to decide he is NOT innocent, Biden himself would need to talk us out of that with his own words.
In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life,
Biden specifically separates public life and campaign trail, and this is to be expected. He hasn’t always been on the campaign trail while in public life, and so this is normal language.
I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort.
Offered does not mean accepted. Biden has sometimes offered these things and been rejected. This is also not necessarily proof of guilt, as the simple law of averages dictates that not everyone wants to be touched or given “expressions of affection, support and comfort.” We do, however, note that there is rejection there and look for more information as to the context of that rejection.
And not once — never — did I believe I acted inappropriately.
This statement is problematic. It is the perfect opportunity for him to state that “I did not act inappropriately.” He does not say that, however; instead, he begins with a negative (not once), and interjects an additional word (never) in an effort to strengthen his statement. The problem with that is when we attempt to use additional words to emphasize things, we actually weaken that assertion. If someone tells you they are happily married, for instance, you probably believe them. If someone says, “I am really, really, REALLY happily married,” we tend to wonder who they’re trying to convince because obviously they themselves do not even believe it. So Biden’s insistence, using a negative and extra wording, to convince us that whatever comes after this NEVER EVER HAPPENED, actually serves to make us question if in fact it did happen.
The second half of this sentence focuses on what it is he wants us to think never happened; namely, that he believes he acted inappropriately. Let’s look more closely:
- He does not say “I did not act inappropriately.”
- He says he did not believe he acted inappropriately.
The difference is subtly conveyed but critical to understand. The word “believe” implies that he is cognizant that others believe differently. It is not a statement of fact; e.g., the sky is blue. It is a statement of subjectiveness: I believe the sky is blue. It offers room to change later, simply by saying, “Well, I said I believed so. Sometime people are wrong in their beliefs.” He is aware that he may be proven incorrect or deceptive, and is making sure he has room to maneuver.
We must also note two more things:
- What is Biden’s definition of “inappropriate?” We all have a subjective dictionary. What you and I might consider theft, for instance, a thief might consider simply “taking what is owed him.” Much like Bill Clinton’s definition of “sexual relations” did not include oral sex, Biden’s definition of “inappropriate” may not be the same as you and I.
- Biden believes he never believed, past tense, that he acted inappropriately. Does he believe differently now?
If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention.
“If it is suggested” is passive. It serves to distance him from the accusation, and even weaken it from accusation to mere suggestion. There were not “suggestions” that he acted inappropriately; there are videos in which we can see for ourselves what he did or did not do.
Saying he will “listen respectfully” is not the same as saying he will apologize, nor will he change anything that he does. He will merely allow the accusers to speak. In addition, his respectful listening is offered as a gift of sorts; he is not interested in what they say but he will put forth the effort to listen respectfully. This is not something we would expect someone to say if they are open to the idea that perhaps they have genuinely harmed someone with their conduct — especially when it’s on video.
“But it was never my intention” is unnecessary. In a sexual assault or groping scandal, we do not care if the subject meant to harm; we only care if they committed the acts they are accused of. We don’t care, for instance, if Jeffrey Dahmer meant to eat his victims after he killed them, or if it was simply an impulse. We only care that he did it. The same applies here; we don’t expect Biden to say he didn’t mean to harm anyone, because we don’t care. It should be noted, however, that if Biden did genuinely care that he may have assaulted someone, even inadvertently, we would see evidence of remorse in the language, which is conspicuously missing.
With all of this in mind, can we say based on the language that Biden is aware his conduct is socially unacceptable? His verbal dodging says that he is, and even was during the time of the accusations. In fact, the language shows that he was aware of his actions and their ramifications, but that he, himself, thinks he did nothing wrong.
In addition, we find that he has no remorse; since he does not believe what he did was wrong, he feels no shame and/or accountability for it.
Biden continues to run for President.
And this will keep happening.
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