Vice President Joe Biden has been the source of many social media moments.
Internet users dubbed finger-guns his trademark salute, he’s had more than one on camera Freudian slip, and his Senate swearing-ins are always must-see. He’s a meme-able veep for the Twitter generation.
Tuesday was no different. After delivering the oath of office to new Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, the vice president waved Carter’s wife Stephanie over to his side of the podium. While Carter was speaking in front of them, Biden put his hands on Mrs. Carter’s shoulders, leaned over and whispered something in her ear. The moment was captured in a photo and Twitter users, as usual, noticed.
But is social media being hard on Uncle Joe? Similar tweets appeared when Biden whispered to Senator Chris Coons’ daughter Maggie during the Senate’s ceremonial swearing-in in January. Coons later said Biden was simply whispering words of encouragement to Maggie, who was visibly uncomfortable during most of the photo op.
Sure, touching and whispering to people in public can appear to be a uniquely awkward experience, not only for those involved, but for those watching it unfold, particularly if they’re is watching for no longer than the few seconds of a Vine or GIF.
In this case, Biden said at the ceremony today he has known Ash Carter for years and, when you watch the full video (see above), it doesn’t appear entirely obvious that he makes Stephanie Carter uncomfortable. In fact, she nods her head in agreement after Biden talks to her. If you watch for more than a Vine’s-length, the ceremony goes on normally after the whisper seen ’round the web.