America the Prudish?

The light caress and kiss on the head mark an unfortunate predicament for a lively, gregarious old man for whom such public gestures are as naturally — yes, naturally — rooted in his generation’s social norms and mores as they are in his own heart: offered in kindness, without motives.

Vice President Joe Biden is famous for the idiosyncratic ways he shows appreciation to others: a social style that sometimes nudges barriers, and, alas, has been deemed, in 21st-century parlance (just as Christmas Nativity scenes), as wholly out of line.

I’m not condoning the extent of Mr. Biden’s show of admiration for public servant Lucy Flores; however, I’m not condemning it, either. For clearly his admiration did not signal a desire to make advances. He did not pat a butt.

Instead, Joe Biden merely pressed a shoulder and kissed a head: in appreciation. Comparable, one could argue convincingly, to male dignitaries in certain foreign countries greeting each other with kisses on the mouths.

So then, how much affection is too much these days?

In the U.S., it seems it’s anything more than a handshake.