That is an improvement over his bungled attempts to apologize to Anita Hill for the brutal grilling she received in 1991 during the Biden-led Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas, whom she accused of sexual harassment. It’s a lukewarm non-apology, nonetheless, because he’s not taking any direct responsibility for his conduct. (Biden has not issued a statement—let alone an apology—addressing the other women’s accounts.

Biden has built reputation of being a decent, good man. He is also handsy, in a way that once could have been read as friendly and warm. He has made a career in a political environment in which hugging, touching, and kissing were accepted and even encouraged—as initiated by men, at least. This is “an asset, not a liability,” a person close to Biden told The Atlantic. Other women, including actress Alyssa Milano, have defended Biden, saying his intentions were never bad.

Still, his behavior and his reaction to the accusations show that he’s out of step with the times. He might have meant no disrespect, yet the women who came forward felt demeaned. It’s precisely that cluelessness that suggests Biden is past his time to be president.

Apparently, these most recent complaints about his handsiness are not enough to derail his plans for  a presidential run. Biden is reportedly as close to jumping into the 2020 race as he was before the women spoke up. And though potential rivals and other prominent Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, have criticized his behavior, it seems many are betting these are forgivable, forgettable offenses. Donald Trump, accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women, is using the complaints about Biden to poke fun at the one potential Democratic 2020 opponent he has not derided as a socialist.

Biden remains the establishment-supported candidate (“I don’t think it’s disqualifying,” Pelosi said of behavior she herself criticized), the old-timer with experience and credibility. Polls show him to be the presumed frontrunner.

But if 2016 taught us anything, projections are one thing and elections are another.

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