Vice President Kamala Harris has played an unusually high-profile role in the Biden administration’s dealings with foreign leaders, but while greeting South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House on Friday, she was caught wiping her hand following a handshake with the Asian dignitary, in a gaffe some say would have sparked a media firestorm if committed by a Republican.
Harris spent some time with Moon in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and the pair appeared for brief some brief remarks to the media in which the vice president told the South Korean leader, “At a time when our world faces increasing threats to our health, security, and climate, it is more important than ever that the United States and the Republic of Korea work closely together,” as the New York Post reported.
However, it was at the end of Harris’ remarks when things took an embarrassing turn. Immediately after shaking hands with Moon, the vice president was seen wiping her right hand on her suit, a gesture that could easily be viewed as an insult toward her esteemed guest. Watch:
Kamala Harris insults the South Korean President Moon Jae-in by wiping her hand off after shaking his hand. #USA #SouthKorea #Democrats #KamalaHarris #MoonJaein #DiplomaticIncident #ForeignAffairs #Insult #Wipe #BadManners pic.twitter.com/h8bysZKeql
— Tree of Knowledge (@TreeofKnowled14) May 22, 2021
It was not long until eagle-eyed social media users began blasting Harris’ conduct, with a number of observers arguing that had a Republican engaged in such behavior, the consequences would have been far more dire.
Twitter user GoddoG took to the platform to post video of the incident and to opine, “This is the USA VP? Not only disrespectful, but it would be ‘racist’ if this was a Republican, all over the news for sure…Double standards on full display.”
Jordan Dundas tweeted his incredulity over Harris’ actions as well, noting, “Kamala Harris does a hand wipe after shaking hands with SK President Moon! Wow! That’s so embarrassing!”
More charitable commentators might try to attribute Harris’ extreme caution to concerns about COVID-19 – after all, she is the same person who recently kissed her husband while masked, long after both were fully vaccinated. However, that excuse fails to withstand even cursory scrutiny, as social media user MiracleOfLife succinctly pointed out that “You can’t wipe off a virus on your pants.”
Though Harris will almost certainly elude widespread derision for this shameful display, the episode only serves to highlight the fact that she suffers from a glaring lack of the diplomatic aplomb necessary for her increasingly visible role on the world stage.