By spooky coincidence, I was driving through your beloved hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, yesterday morning. I was listening to the news. I heard the latest of what will certainly be a never-ending chain of reports about your touching somebody in a way they have decided was somehow inappropriate.
It’s too late for guys like us, Joe. Born and socialized into a bygone era when spontaneous hugging or touching was sort of okay (“sort of” means probably offensive to many who endured it, but not a cause for national castigation), we have left a trail of colleagues and casual acquaintances in our wake who are now entitled to belatedly speak their rightful minds.
Given the hundreds—no, thousands—of women whom you and I have touched in now-mistaken gestures of connection-and-inclusion over the years, you will spend the bulk of your energy as a candidate backpedaling and making earnest but lame explanations about how it was all so innocent and all so different “back then” before we were wised up by the women. Throw in your not-easily-dismissed role with Anita Hill, and you’re in for a year and a half of playing defense—badly.
Pack it in, Joe. You don’t need this. But America still needs you. America needs your senior-statesman sobriety and perspective, which you can continue to offer as a highly respected Vice-President in a highly respected administration. Keep on being the adult in the room, coach the up-and-comers, and enjoy the years ahead without a target tattooed on you. And your standing down will clarify the Democratic primary in important ways. Big poll numbers flow to you now just because we know and love you, but they don’t even mean you can win the primary. Clear the decks. Let those of us who would have supported your candidacy now focus our energy and donations on choosing the next generation of Democratic leaders, helping them stand tall and reclaim the integrity of our democracy.
Chill, Joe. You’ve earned it.