|Joe Biden and Doug Jones|
U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) has pretty much given Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden a pass on sexual-misconduct allegations, which is ironic given that Jones earned his seat largely because of sexual-misconduct allegations against his Republican opponent, Roy Moore.
Do Jones' comments, coming in a Mother Jones podcast published yesterday, suggest he is angling to be running mate if Biden is nominated? The answer likely is yes. Could all of this go off the rails if reports prove true that Jones has a "special friendship" with a woman in Birmingham who is not his wife? On that, it's too early to say. But we are researching the matter and have learned the woman has experience with multiple law firms in the metro area.
Yellowhammer News (YH), an Alabama right-wing Web site, reported yesterday on the Mother Jones podcast, with the headline "Jones says Biden sexual harassment allegations ‘distract’ from beating Trump – ‘We have to not be so judgmental’." First, we should note that no one has made sexual-harassment allegations against Biden; several women have said Biden sniffed their hair, hugged them, or touched them (usually on the shoulders) in ways they considered inappropriate or discomfiting. Vox has referred to it as Biden's "Creepy Uncle Joe" problem.
As for Doug Jones, he has placed himself solidly in Biden's corner, according to YH:
On a recent Mother Jones podcast, Jones early on in the interview brags about how Democrats are “on the right side of history.” Later on, he is asked if there are any particular Democratic presidential candidates he is “excited about” for 2020. Jones has previously pledged to back whomever the Democrats nominate against President Donald Trump in 2020, no matter how radical they are.
Answering the host, Jones said, “I’m crazy about all of my Senate colleagues. They’re incredibly bright folks and have a lot to add to this upcoming primary season. I think it’s going to be very interesting to watch. … Obviously, I’ve been very candid about this in the past — my closest friend in this field of candidates has been someone I’ve known for 40 years. And that’s former Vice President Biden. And despite the issues that he’s faced, I still think that he has the ability to reach people from all ends of the political spectrum and govern this country.”
While Jones made electoral hay with sexual-misconduct allegations against Roy Moore, he doesn't seem much concerned about similar allegations involving Joe Biden. From YH:
While [Mother Jones] included this response in their transcript of the interview, they edited out what came next, when Jones spoke about “the issues” surrounding Biden.
From the 21:30 – 25:10 mark in the podcast, Jones discusses Biden’s behavior with women and concludes that the allegations against him “distract” from the Democrats’ ultimate goal of beating Trump.
Before reaching that conclusion, Jones’ remarks strayed well into “word salad” territory, with the junior senator saying at one point, “Where even what I believe to be, I won’t use the term ‘innocent’ because that’s probably not appropriate, but I don’t think Joe Biden ever had the kind of intention you had that in a harassing kind of way or an assaulting kind of way. But this is another step in an interesting movement and a very important movement for this country that we have to recognize more about the people on the receiving end.”
When pressed on whether Biden’s intent matters or not, Jones then seemingly backtracked, saying, “No,” and adding that he was “not trying to mitigate” the allegations.
Jones goes on to state that his primary concern is beating Donald Trump in 2020, and he seems to admit the "Creepy Uncle Joe" issue could be a problem. From a YH transcript of the podcast:
HOST: So, follow up, is he saying the rights things on that, Biden? Like, is he actually meaningfully addressing the criticism that’s been waged at him?
JONES: You know, it’s funny, I think he’s said some of the right things, I think he’s said some wrong things. I think the thing that people need to remember that it’s not for others to judge. It’s really for the people who are at the receiving end of that. They’re the ones that need, they’re the ones that need the reassurance, and I think this is another interesting, I think, and very important step in the movements that we’re seeing across America. Where even what I believe to be, I won’t use the term “innocent” because that’s probably not appropriate, but I don’t think Joe Biden ever had the kind of intention you had that in a harassing kind of way or an assaulting kind of way. But this is another step in an interesting movement and a very important movement for this country that we have to recognize more about the people on the receiving end. And I’ve said that for years anyway. I’ve said it about civil rights, I’ve said it about other things. It goes back to Atticus Finch, you gotta walk around in someone else’s shoes to see things from their point of view. And I think this is a very, very significant moment where more and more people are taking a look at that.
HOST: Does Vice President Biden’s intention matter when it’s received in an awkward or maybe intimidating way?
JONES: No, I mean, look, that’s what I’ve said a minute ago and I’m not trying to mitigate that at all. I think it’s not the intentions, it is the person who is on the other end of that. That’s what we have to be cognizant of. That’s why this is such an important moment. That it, you know, it’s one thing to harass, it’s one thing to assault but I think now what we’re seeing is that we’ve got to be so much more aware of someone else’s space. I think this is a very, very significant and important moment where we are in this country and recognize, particularly, the issues that every, I don’t want to say every, but just about every woman will face at some point in their lifetime, and I think it’s really significant. So, it’s not the intentions of folks like Joe or me or anybody else, it’s the woman that we’re talking to or shaking hands with.
HOST: Do you think debates around this can sort of distract from the ultimate goal that Democrats have of beating Donald Trump?
JONES: Oh, absolutely, I think a lot of things, I mean, I think, you know, President Obama this weekend in Berlin at the Obama Foundation was talking about Democrats having a circular firing squad over things that are important but not something that can win the election.