The Allegations Against Biden: The Press Presses On…

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In my previous post, I expressed my belief in Joe Biden’s innocence of charges of sexual assault made by former staffer Tara Reade, as well as my great concern that the press will keep the story alive, thereby damaging an innocent man and threatening his candidacy for President against Donald Trump.

I stated my concern that the story would be covered with a fervor I do not feel is justified by the facts as we know them.

I didn’t discuss the now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings in that post (except in the comments section) because I think comparisons with the charge against Biden are totally off base. 

So does New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg. She remains skeptical about Biden but dismisses criticisms that the Democrats, in defending Biden, show hypocrisy when compared with their defense of Kavanaugh’s accuser.  

The Democrats, she writes, “would never have the audacity to demand that their political opponents act on a story with as many ambiguities as Reade’s.” 

But I must say the two men’s reactions tell me much about temperament and character.

You may recall that when Christine Blasey Ford claimed that Kavanaugh had assaulted her, he yelled and cried at his hearings about the terrible injustices being done to him.

In contrast, Biden quietly but emphatically said, “It never happened,” and he declined to attribute motives to his accuser, Tara Reade, or to say anything about her character. 

At a fundraiser among Obama alumni last week, Biden said the following, which I find extraordinary (he’s more tolerant than I am):

“My knowledge that it isn’t true does nothing to shake my belief that women have to be able to be heard and that all the claims be taken seriously. It isn’t enough just to simply take my word for it and to dismiss it out of hand.

“Frankly, that shouldn’t be enough for anyone, because we know that this sort of approach is exactly how the culture of abuse has been allowed to fester for so long.

“I’m heartened to see it, although it’s painful sometimes, that by and large journalists are doing what they’re supposed to do. 

“They’re going out there listening to the allegations. They’re taking it seriously and they’re investigating it. And they’re talking with folks who were there at the time, scrutinizing personnel records, examining the evolution of the claims, looking into the culture of our office.

“And I’m not concerned about what they might find, because I know the truth of the matter. I know that this claim has no merit.”

I fear Biden’s confidence may be misplaced. The press is honing in.

And despite the fact that he was the overwhelming favorite among primary voters, some people who didn’t vote for Biden seem to be eager to push this story to justify a do-over. Bernie Sanders’s supporters are evident in this campaign.

The Washington Post just published an Op-Ed by Lyz Lenz, a columnist for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and a victim of sexual abuse.

She insists Biden must withdraw, dismissing all the contradictions in his accuser’s stories as part of the inevitable cycle of questioning that victims of sexual assault must endure. 

She does compare the Biden and Kavanaugh episodes and says the Republicans should have withdrawn Kavanaugh (which was never a consideration), thereby equating the two.

Having determined that Reade’s charges are “credible,” she writes:

“I do not want to be forced to balance the accusations against Biden and Trump—playing the ‘Which is worse?’ game. But that is what I’m being told to do.” 

I don’t know who is telling her she has to do that, but I trust I’m not the only one who sees the nonsense in that comparison.

And here are her ideas about how the Democrats should handle this issue:

Bernie Sanders could jump back in, or other candidates might (she caucused for Elizabeth Warren), or the party leaders might pick a governor who’s handled the pandemic well. 

As I’ve said, Biden wasn’t my first choice, but I do think his experience and compassion make him right for our time.

And can you imagine anything more anti-democratic than nullifying all those voters’ wishes because of a single and highly questionable allegation by one woman? 

I have seen any number of Twitter tweets from African American voters responding to the Bernie devotees’ campaign for his reentry. They expressed what I believe is justifiable outrage that their votes would be summarily dismissed. 

And if party leaders acted on Lenz’s idea and suddenly came up with a nominee whom not a single Democrat had voted for, the Bernie folks’ charges that the party, not the people, were determining the outcome (charges that were put to rest by the primary vote in the eyes of most observers) would surely be an issue.

One can see the mischief lying ahead by considering another woman who has just come forth.  A niece of Christine O’Donnell, a former Tea Party Republican Senatorial candidate, claims that Biden commented on her breasts when both attended the 2008 Gridiron dinner—and she was just 14! 

Sounds extremely offensive (as well as similar to complaints against Trump).  But as it happens, Biden wasn’t there; one of his aides had substituted for him because Biden was having surgery that week.

So the woman said it must have been 2007. But Biden wasn’t there then either.

As former prosecutor Michael Stern observed in his USA Today  piece asserting Biden’s innocence, which I quoted from in my previous post, the fact that Reade can’t remember date, time, or location makes it impossible for Biden to disprove the allegation by providing evidence to the contrary. 

I believe the same is true with the missing complaint—in which Reade now says she’s not sure exactly what she’d actually charged—something about his making her feel “uncomfortable,” she thinks.

She had all her personnel records, but she just didn’t keep, or misplaced, the one document that she says was the most important aspect of her interactions with Biden. The New York Times investigation couldn’t find it.

And yet, the burden is on Biden to open up his entire political life. The Times Editorial Board, in what a friend deemed “a statement of breathtaking naivete,” not only called upon Biden to give access to his papers; it said that honorable Republicans should call on Trump to do the same.

As I concluded in my previous post: 

There were mea culpas after the damage was done from members of the media for obsessing over Hillary’s emails in 2016 while letting Donald Trump off the hook. That must not happen again.

Professor Heather Cox Richardson, a political historian at Boston College, has reached a similar conclusion about Trump and the media with regard to the accusation against Biden.

“…Please follow me here: I am not speaking of the claims of Ms. Reade, which are a separate conversation. I am talking about the use of her story to control our political narrative. 

“The attempt to get Biden to jump through hoops Trump ignores is classic gaslighting. It keeps Biden on the defensive and makes sure he is reinforcing Trump’s narrative, thus strengthening Trump even as Biden tries to carve out his own campaign. It is precisely what the Trump campaign, abetted by the media, did in 2016.”

As the friend I quoted earlier observed: 

“This will be a rough and tumble campaign, and we cannot shrink from the fight. Biden has stepped up to the challenge and met it head-on. We must demand the same of Trump, knowing that he will never comply. 

“In the ‘what are you hiding?’ contest, Trump loses badly. Steel yourself for more difficult moments but take heart from the fact that the electorate is turning on Trump…

“It will be a close election and will be hard-fought, but we are up to the task. Put doubts aside and move forward with all deliberate speed!

And if you feel as I do that the press–in its admirable zeal to be fair–may be falling into the same damaging role that it played in 2016, please consider writing letters to the editor or otherwise making your opinions known.

Annie

22 thoughts on “The Allegations Against Biden: The Press Presses On…

  1. Again Annie another good post. I hope this distraction will not take the focus off of what damage Trump is doing to our country.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It distresses me that some prominent Democrats who have been accused of minor sexual misconduct have been pushed aside (Al Franken is a major example), while Trump paid no price for his numerous (And admitted) sexual offenses. Apparently enough Democrats are in the “anyone but Trump” camp, so Biden remains a front runner, but I fear that Reade’s charges will cost him votes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree about Franken. I felt that the right place for that decision to be made was in a referendum in Minnesota, so that the people who voted him in could decide.
      Polling is problematic, but a new Monmouth poll taken after Reade’s charges were publicized showed women preferring Biden by 20 percentage points.
      In truth, with trump’s handling of the pandemic, it boggles my mind that even his most fervent supporters aren’t rethinking, but that phenomenon is too complex for me to undertake.

      Like

  3. Well, the veracity of Ms Reade has been called into question on a number of accounts. Most recently she canceled an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox news. As Biden says, we should take all allegations seriously. then investigate. So far the Reade accounts have been changed more often than a newborn’s diaper.

    Recall that Kavanaugh had a number of women making complaints about him . The GOP allowed only one to testify. I think it was 5 in all. And all involved Mr K being intoxicated and acting badly . Ms. Ford even took, and passed, a polygraph test .

    Anytime a woman or man accuses another of improprieties it is appropriate, in my opinion, to question the character of the accuser. After all, it is the character of the accused that is being besmirched. Isn’t credibility the key issue since these accusations seldom have any documentation or witnesses.

    Back to Biden. There were no claims about him when he ran for the Senate of VP. Think the Obama people did not vet him thoroughly? Then, last year, Trump tried to smear him with a phony Ukraine scandal. The quid pro quo. That didn’t work. Then, in early January Giuliani announced on Fox News that “next week” he was going to drop a bombshell that proved Biden got BILLIONS of dollars illegally. The next week came and went. Now they will try a sex scandal. Well, that won’t stick. So, they will keep throwing mud and hope some of it diminishes Biden.

    The technique worked against John McCain in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. It worked against Clinton in 2016. Will it work this time? Or have people wised up? You can be sure there is more to come.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. OK., I have to admit (once again), I didn’t read your entire post. But THIS stood out to me: She insists Biden must withdraw. And where was this person when the MANY accusers came forward about Trump? And what about when proof was offered that he did indeed “pay for silence”?

    So one accuser, who’s story thus far keeps changing, and Biden must withdraw? Give. Me. A. Break.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, c’mon, Nan: this post was 1000 words shorter than my last.😉
      The fact that the illustrious Washington Post gave so much space to a writer who says she doesn’t want to have to “be forced to balance the accusations against Biden and Trump—playing the ‘Which is worse’ game. But that is what I’m being told to do” was what motivated me to write another post so soon after my first.
      I question an editorial board decision that felt this was a serious argument.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I wouldn’t put it past Trump and his partners-in-crime to pay women to “come forward” with more such allegations. Is there any doubt that Trump has zero integrity and is so paranoid that he will do anything to win the upcoming election and stay in power?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. No doubt in my mind. And he’s got the friendly Bill Barr (about whom I’ve rhymed on two occasions, you may be interested to know) ready to wreak all sorts of damage. And he’ll do his best to keep people other than “his people” from voting and to block vote-by-mail funding for the states. And he’s encouraging armed vigilantes. And he’s willing to let people die rather than actively trying to stem the pandemic.
      What could possibly go wrong?
      Excuse me: gotta go meditate…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Excellent post, Annie. Would you mind if I re-blog this tomorrow (Thursday)? I have shied away from writing about the Tara Reade accusations thus far, but you have done a beautiful job of it here. My big fear is that Trump, his campaign, and the republicans in general have no real issues they can use against Biden. Trump tried the Hunter Biden/Ukraine tactic, but that fell far short of scandal, so the only talking point they have is this. The irony, of course, being that Trump has been accused in more than 20 incidents of sexual assault and harassment, yet the republicans turn a blind eye, say it’s naught more than “locker room talk”. At any rate, my fear is that it will hurt Biden come November, and frankly the democrats are already hurting him with their utter lack of support. Again, though, I digress. Thank you for this post … very well researched and written. I hope you won’t mind me sharing it.

    Like

  7. Thank you, Jill. I’d be pleased if you reblog, but you may want to read my previous (much longer) post from last Saturday first because that contains quotations from the Michael Stern assessment and Lynn Summers’ comments that motivated me to have such strong doubts about the veracity of Tara Reade’s charge against Biden.
    As I’ve mentioned to other commenters, I felt I had to write this piece when I saw the illustrious Washington Post devote so much space to what I felt was a weak and anti-democratic Op-Ed.

    Like

  8. Thanks for the write-up and your reflections.This is politics — the worst of it, and I fear more to come. I agree with those of your readers who have observed that it’s a distraction. That’s typical opposition strategy and I wonder, are we that distractable that the last voice heard is the one we follow, even if right over the cliff? Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. A good post Annie. I do remember watching the Kavanaugh hearings and thinking how strange and immature and ultimately unbelievable his defensive behavior was, and yet they believed him?

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I held back on commenting on your previous post so this one has given me more time to think.

    I don’t know Reade. I don’t know if what she said happened or didn’t. And partisan boos and cheers are not interesting. What is interesting is your suggestion that the press should let it go. I’m kind of amazed that they picked it up at all. Also interesting is watching the contortions of those who high-mindedly backed Christine Ford as they trash Reade as they try to explain that politics has nothing to do with it.

    I will leave roles of prosecution and defense to you and others. I am content to be a simple juror who listens to the evidence and sees what makes sense and what doesn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fair enough, JP. I think we need more unbiased jurors.

      A note of caution to you: If you read my most recent post, which was intended to stress the importance of social distancing, I fear the discussion devolved into a free-for-all that did not adhere to my desire for civility and many will find offensive. I deeply regret that; I don’t think it’s happened on my blog before—and I’m determined that it won’t happen again.

      Liked by 1 person

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