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更新时间:2019/4/3 21:33:42 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The Wrong Time for Joe Biden

On Friday, Lucy Flores, a former Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor of Nevada, accused Joe Biden of touching her inappropriately as they waited to take the stage at a 2014 election rally. He put his hands on her shoulders, she said, then nuzzled her hair and kissed the back of her head. She didn’t accuse Biden, who is reportedly close to announcing his presidential candidacy, of sexual harassment or assault, just of making her uncomfortable. “I’m not suggesting that Biden broke any laws, but the transgressions that society deems minor (or doesn’t even see as transgressions) often feel considerable to the person on the receiving end,” she wrote.

上周五,曾竞选内华达州副州长的民主党人露西·弗洛雷斯(Lucy Flores)指责乔·拜登(Joe Biden)在2014年的一次竞选集会上,在等待登台期间不恰当地触摸了她。她说,他把手放在她的肩膀上,用脸蹭她的头发,吻她的脑后。她没有指责据报道将宣布竞选总统的拜登犯有性骚扰或性侵犯行为,只是表示拜登让她觉得不舒服。“我并不是说拜登违反了任何法律,但被社会视为轻微过失(甚至不被视为过失)的行为,往往会让承受它的人感到相当严重,”她写道。

In response, Biden released a statement saying that while he’s often been physically affectionate as a politician, “not once — never — did I believe I acted inappropriately.”


Then, on Monday, Amy Lappos, a former aide to the Democratic congressman Jim Himes, told The Hartford Courant that Biden pulled her toward him to rub noses during a 2009 fund-raiser. “There’s absolutely a line of decency,” Lappos said, adding: “Crossing that line is not grandfatherly. It’s not cultural. It’s not affection. It’s sexism or misogyny.” Biden’s campaign hadn’t yet begun and was already in crisis.

然后在周一,民主党国会议员吉姆·希姆斯(Jim Himes)的前助手艾米·拉波斯(Amy Lappos)对《哈特福德新闻报》(The Hartford Courant)说,在2009年的一次筹款活动上,拜登把她拉到自己身边,用鼻子蹭她的鼻子。“这绝对跨越了一条得体言行的界线,”拉波斯说,她还说:“他的跨越不是什么祖父式的亲昵。这不是文化。不是喜爱。这是性别歧视或厌女。”拜登的竞选活动还没有开始,已经处于危机之中。

Flores, Lappos and Biden are probably all telling the truth. There are countless photos of Biden behaving in the ways that Flores and Lappos describe: squeezing women, rubbing their shoulders, leaning in too close. All this was open, not furtive, presumably because it never occurred to Biden that he was doing anything untoward.


I don’t necessarily blame him. In the past few years, women have been calling out daily indignities that previous generations grew up quietly tolerating: lingering hugs from a boss, embarrassing intimate questions, crude office jokes. Individually, these are small acts, and most men probably don’t understand how cumulatively draining they can be. Women, after all, have only recently begun to articulate it.


I received plenty of unwanted shoulder massages when I was younger, and for a long time I assumed there was something wrong with me when they made me flinch. It was affirming to finally realize that other women also hated routine invasions of their personal space. But if it wasn’t always obvious to me that the men were at fault in these awkward encounters, it might not have been obvious to them, either.


So I don’t think Biden’s avuncular pawing is a #MeToo story. (Lappos specifically said the way he grabbed her “wasn’t sexual.”) But if Biden was more oblivious than predatory, his history still puts him out of step with the mores of an increasingly progressive Democratic Party. On Sunday, The New York Times reported that some Democrats are bracing “for an extended reckoning about Mr. Biden and gender if he enters the race.” The inevitably of such a reckoning should make Biden reconsider getting in.


Biden’s issues with gender, after all, go far beyond chronic handsiness. His waffling on reproductive choice troubles many feminists; as The Times reported last week, Biden’s “back-and-forth over abortion would become a hallmark of his political career.” He was the chairman of the hearings on Clarence Thomas’s Supreme Court nomination, where Anita Hill, who accused Thomas of sexual harassment, was demeaned and dismissed. Though Biden has expressed sorrow for how Hill was treated, he’s never directly apologized to her.

毕竟,拜登在性方面的问题远远不止于长期的毛手毛脚。他在生育选择上的胡诌令许多女性主义者深感困扰;正如《纽约时报》上周报道的那样,拜登“在堕胎问题上的反复将成为他政治生涯中的一个标志”。他是克拉伦斯·托马斯(Clarence Thomas)被提名为最高法院大法官的听证会主席,会上指控托马斯性骚扰的安妮塔·希尔(Anita Hill)遭到羞辱和贬低。尽管拜登对希尔受到的待遇表示痛心,但他从未直接向希尔道歉。

Beyond gender, on issue after issue, if Biden runs for president he will have to run away from his own record. He — and by extension, we — will have to relive the debate over the Iraq war, which he voted to authorize. He’ll have to explain his vote to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act, which, by lifting regulations on banking, helped create the conditions for the 2008 financial meltdown. (Biden has called that vote one of the biggest regrets of his career.) In 2016, Hillary Clinton was slammed for her previous support of the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which contributed to mass incarceration. Biden helped write the law, which he called, in 2015, the “1994 Biden crime bill.”

除了性别问题,如果拜登竞选总统,他将不得不在一个又一个问题上为自己曾经的言论找借口。他——进而也包括我们——将不得不重温有关伊拉克战争的辩论——他在战争授权上投了赞同票。他将不得不解释他投票废除《格拉斯-斯蒂格尔法案》(Glass-Steagall Act)的原因,该法案解除了对银行业的监管,为2008年的金融危机制造了条件。(拜登称那是他政治生涯最后悔的投票之一。)2016年,希拉里·克林顿(Hillary Clinton)因之前支持1994年的《暴力犯罪控制和执法法案》(Violence Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act)而受到抨击,该法案导致了大规模监禁。拜登协助起草了这项法案,他在2015年曾称之为“1994年拜登犯罪法案”。

None of this means that Democrats need to disavow Biden. He is by most accounts a man of great personal decency. As vice president, he pushed Barack Obama’s administration in the right direction on issues including gay marriage and campus sexual assault. It’s not surprising that he leads most polls of 2020 Democrats; he is well known and well loved.


Still, the widespread assumption that Biden would pose the strongest challenge to Donald Trump is unwarranted. In recent years, neither party has done well when they’ve chosen candidates who were meant to appeal to some elusive cadre of swing voters but lacked a robust grass-roots base. On paper, the war heroes John Kerry and John McCain looked electable; Obama and Trump did not. To those desperate to unseat Trump, the centrist, establishment Biden might seem like the safest choice, but it would actually be risky to pick a candidate who will need to constantly apologize for himself.

不过,关于拜登将对唐纳德·特朗普构成最大挑战的普遍看法,是没有根据的。近年来,两党做得都不是很好,他们选择的候选人本想吸引摇摆选民中那些难以捉摸的核心群体,但却缺乏坚实的草根基础。从理论上说,战争英雄约翰·克里(John Kerry)和约翰·麦凯恩(John McCain)看似有可能当选的;奥巴马和特朗普则看似不太可能。对于那些迫切希望把特朗普赶下台的中间派来说,建制派拜登似乎是最安全的选择,但是选择一个需要不断为自己道歉的候选人实际上是有风险的。

Particularly when he doesn’t know how to do that very well. In response to Flores, Biden could have told her that he was sorry for making her uneasy. Instead, he focused on his intentions rather than her experience, a faint echo of the way he’d ignored Hill’s experience decades ago. No one should judge the whole span of Biden’s career by the standards of 2019, but if he’s going to run for president, it’s fair to ask whether he’s the right leader for this moment. He is a product of his time, but that time is up.