After several false starts, it appears that Tara Reade’s allegations of sexual violence against Joe Biden are finally being prosecuted. Reade is a former Senate staffer of Biden’s and the alleged incident took place in 1993, when Biden was Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Conspiracy theories are abound as to why Reade’s allegations weren’t taken particularly seriously until recent days. We will address those theories later but first let’s admit focus on COVID-19 has rightly taken our eyes off of the finer points of politics the last six weeks meaning no time to talk Reade or politics. We’re fighting a pandemic together as one nation. Right? Or maybe we have still been politicizing everything?
Unfortunately, from my vantage point, partisans on both sides continue to electioneer right in the middle of the COVID-19 fight. Everything is being politicized. I’ve been disappointed even as a liberal Democrat in the national media’s ongoing anti-Ron DeSantis campaign where Florida is being held to a clearly different and more rigid standard than other states, be they governed by Democrats or Republicans.
It goes like this – every Governor is doing their best except Ron DeSantis because he governs Florida which has Florida Man and the nation’s worst citizens. Yes, the national media loves the easy narrative of picking on Florida even though per capita we’ve had fewer COVID-19 cases and deaths than many states including our friends in Brian Kemp’s now-reopened Georgia.
Personally, I have been similarly more frustrated by the general unwillingness of elected officials in both parties in elected office all over the nation, starting with President Trump to take responsibility and be accountable for mistakes THEY MADE.
To me it’s pretty damning indictment of American culture that nobody in a position of authority is willing to say “the buck stops here,” or admit things could and should have been done differently. As I have written before COVID-19 didn’t sneak up on us if you were paying attention. Unfortunately, the combination of impeachment, primaries and self-absorption meant to many were not…
I bring this entire situation up because it has pushed back the conversation about some very serious allegations that have surfaced against the presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee. For the record, I believe Joe Biden, assuming he is nominated, will be the single most qualified non-incumbent candidate to lead a major party ticket since Henry Clay in 1844. While arguments could be made for James Buchanan in 1856*, Herbert Hoover in 1928, both Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon in 1968 and George H.W. Bush in 1988, I believe Biden on paper is more qualified than all of them.
*Buchanan on paper probably was probably the most qualified, I would concede – but he arguably ran the most corrupt administration in American history, yes even more corrupt than Trump or Nixon AND the one that helped usher in a Civil War with its partisan southern stands. So maybe that is why I knock him further down on the list. You don’t want to tout qualifcations if he is your model.
At a time of a massive leadership void in this nation, we are fortunate to have someone of his standing and stature running for President. Biden is a truly exceptional public servant with a humble, working class feel, something the Democrats, who today lack class-consciousness and awareness haven’t had as a nominee since the Clintonian takeover of the party in 1990’s.
However, all this having been said, Biden cannot be held to a different standard than other candidates or public officials just because he’s more qualified, more seasoned, more empathetic and more capable than any one we have seen run for President in our lifetimes. Bill Clinton and Donald Trump are both scoundrels of the highest order, which Joe Biden is not. But that does not mean we should judge Biden any differently than we do them, or any other person in power.
I’ve been alarmed over the course of the last few years by the willingness of those in the Democratic Party to rightly lob bombs at Republicans about sexual harassment, yet not hold their own to the same standard (with the very notable and perhaps unfortunate exception of Al Franken who looks a choir boy compared to what is alleged against Biden and what all free thinking people must assume both Trump and Clinton did). Democrats echo “Me Too,” when it is convenient but tend to either ignore allegations or discredit the accuser when it does not fit their political agenda. The examples of this happening are too numerous to list here and simply will open old wounds.
But those who have worked or been around Democratic politics the last few years have heard seedy rumors about harassment, assault and rape all too often.
Once in a while we get more details. For example, it was shocking to learn the Center for American Progress (CAP) , the intellectual hub of the mainstream Clinton wing of the Democratic Party ( is that an oxymoron?) , led by Neera Tanden a self-anointed feminist who makes frequent TV appearances hawking woke liberal talking points was a hotbed of sexual harassment and apparently an uncomfortable workplace environment for young women. It was even more stunning to learn Tanden outed the name of a victim in a staff meeting.
Months after this was revealed Tanden was doing her rounds on TV, talking up the allegations of Professor Christine Blassey Ford against Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Tanden was right in that case, but was far from the most credible person the left could have put forward given the CAP’s own mishandling of complaints. But even more revealing Tanden or CAP to my knowledge has never really been called out on this in the mainstream press or by liberal talk show hosts*.
*Tanden appeared on Bill Maher’s HBO show within weeks of these reports surfacing, yet was not asked a single question about it.
Reade’s allegations for a while didn’t get much media play. Elements of the Sanders left has been harping on it being part of a larger media conspiracy to deny their candidate the nomination. It seems believable that would the case when you consider how little the CAP thing was played, but I believe it’s probably just down to the lack of diverse topics the cable news media can handle at once – which is an indictment of those networks and the current state of television journalism in this country more than anything.
Reade’s allegations were probably not aired, not to deny Sanders but because the cable news networks just now have finally gotten tired of talking COVID-19 24/7. Or they just noticed, because they tend to not note things unless it is blown up in their face which this certainly has in recent days.
That Reade’s allegations took close to six weeks to be properly aired on cable news is not much different than COVID-19 itself which wasn’t important enough in February for CNN and MSNBC to do anything more than mention it in passing while focusing on Democratic Primaries and various other domestic political matters. When CNN did mention the brewing pandemic, they saw it as an economic event that could dent President Trump’s economic numbers in an election year, so yeah even when they covered it, it was about politics.
As I have written before the US TV media was almost totally asleep on COVID-19 (though the US print media was not – this is an important distinction). So while Reade’s allegations absolutely should have been aired earlier on TV, that they weren’t probably wasn’t part of some grand conspiracy. BUT if they aren’t fully discussed in the next few weeks, well then we can reopen the conspiracy talk.
However for me, if Reade’s inability to get a fair hearing on TV news was part of a conspiracy so was the major networks pushing off serious discussions of COVID-19 until after Super Tuesday. Do we really want to go down that road? Maybe in time, but not today.
Many on the Sanders left have theorized CNN and MSNBC’s open Democratic Party leanings meant Reade wouldn’t get a fair hearing there, and they have avoided raising the issue. Okay, but at the same time CBSN, CBS’ news channel didn’t dive in, nor did 60 minutes, nor did ABC News, or for that matter FOX News beyond a few comments. Maybe OANN did, but do they, the Trump News Network, really count? Besides does TNN, I mean OANN actually have real reporters who could let’s say investigate something? I think not.
Reade’s allegations weren’t aired on TV news because A) the media wasn’t paying attention or B) corroboration of her story had not yet happened in a big way.
However now Reade’s allegations have gained a level of credibility similar or greater to Professor Ford’s. Conservatives pushed back on Professor Ford’s allegations claiming “why didn’t she come forward before this,” and other nonsense like that while defending a possible rapist getting a lifetime term on the Supreme Court.
Let’s get this straight: Liberals CANNOT say something like that unless well the left wants to be just as obtuse as the right.
In the era prior to #MeToo it was very very difficult for career women to come forward and allege anything. Not only would it harm one’s career, it also would create a social stigma and shame in this male-dominated and controlled society that would tough to shake. Women did not come forward, because they could not come forward. Period. Those who did often paid with their career or even their families breaking up.
Also apparently, Reade per her conversations with Ryan Grim of the Intercept justified not coming forward when Biden was VP because she is a leftist that likes President Obama. I believe that’s a bit of rationalizing honestly that she need not ever be forced to do – the reality is in this male-dominated, largely misogynistic society before the #MeToo movement started it was career suicide to make these sorts of allegations if you were a professional woman.
What we have heard in recent days is that a tape from Larry King Live in 1993 on CNN backs up Reade’s claims and that maybe the #MeToo movement didn’t involve itself in the matter because they use the same PR firm as the Biden campaign. We’ve also learned Reade’s former neighbor corroborates the story.
This exposes another potential problem with the entire movement – #MeToo cannot be linked directly to a political party or the infrastructure of a party. Perhaps this is why the Harvey Weinstein matter went the direction it did and took the time to resolve that it should not have? #MeToo needs to be independent of political interference or the potential of powerful men crushing it.
Personally, I would be crushed if Reade’s allegations proved true. I am a big Biden fan as a policymaker and do not see him as a Clintonian-like figure ideologically. However, given Biden’s own previous alleged incidents and the unforgettable Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, it’s without question necessary for the media to probe deeply into Reade’s claims.
Quite honestly it would be necessary even if it was a one-off, but this unfortunately might fall into a pattern which makes things rather difficult for the Democrats.
Some Democrats will want to hush up the allegations and play the Clintonian game of blackballing anyone who discusses them and stonewalling. But this will not go away, nor should it until it properly investigated and dealt with.