Jaime Franchi, a journalist, met Joe Biden at a  political event on Long Island, New York. He touched her. He touched almost everyone in the room, either with a handshake, a pat on the back, a hug, or a story. She was not at all offended.

She compares her warm experience in meeting Joe Biden with what she saw of Trump on the infamous Access Hollywood tape, where he talked about grabbing women, swallowing a Tic-Tac in case he felt like grabbing a quick tongue-kiss, and then stepped off the bus to humiliate the woman he was talking about.

In the Access Hollywood tape heard across the world, where President Trump gleefully described how wealth and fame gives access to sexual assault, the part that disturbed me wasn’t the “pussy grabbing” comment.

No, it was the moment he exited the bus and hugged MaryAnn, the publicist in the purple dress that Trump and Billy Bush had been talking about just moments before. He popped some Tic Tacs just in case he started kissing her, he’d said. Billy urged them to hug, and she obliged. 

I recognized that moment.

You don’t quite know what’s going on, what the joke is, but you play along to be a good sport. It what we’ve been conditioned to do.

That touch was meant to be not only sexual, but mean-spiritedly so. MaryAnn couldn’t know the vile things they’d just said about her. She couldn’t know the joke she was the butt of. It was a way to humiliate her for their locker-room amusement.

While Joe Biden held my hand for a much longer span of time than that quick hug between President Trump and MaryAnn, it could never — not even by the most power-hungry, moral outrage-addicted person — be confused with attempting to humiliate or sexually bully.

Biden will adjust his habits, she predicts. But she knows from her own experience that his actions were never meant to humiliate, that he is a genuinely warm person who cares about others.

For the past two or three years, we have almost forgotten that such people exist.