So here’s a moment for our nation. We’ve got Trump. ‘Nough said. We’ve got a pandemic. And now we have a presumed Democratic nominee for the presidency facing an accusation that he committed rape by foreign object (digital penetration) in 1993. The accuser’s name is Tara Reade, then a staffer for then-Senator Biden, since a lawyer. The press and the women’s movement were embarrassingly late to address the issue, and nobody particularly hides the fact that the reason is obvious–the accused, that’s their, with some exceptions to be sure, pick to eject Trump from the office he has defiled for the entirety of his term.
Finally, the story’s importance could be ignored no longer, and Biden, after two weeks or more of silence, was forced to submit to an interview on the subject by Mika Brezinski. Interestingly, the principal embarrassment on the part of the press came from the quantity of interviews given by Biden during which not one question about the accusation was asked. At any rate, he denied the accusation and what passed for an examination of him by Ms. Brezinski devolved to her insistence that all of his records, wherever they reside, be searched for the name Tara Reade, an idea that the former Vice President was not happy with. He leaned on the possibility that privileged conversations with foreign leaders might be divulged, or that some papers might contain material that could be taken out of context and used against him in the campaign, the real horrible (Trump-involved) part of which has yet to begin.
The suggested search should certainly be conducted, but it is hardly essential in a search for truth for the people’s purposes at this moment. Because we can have a trial, or an approximation of one, simply using what we know from the public record. #METOO has taught us how to evaluate sexual assault and harassment claims that did not arise at the time of the event. And, as opposed to what some commentators have suggested, the teaching is not to “Believe women.” More aptly, it is precisely what the accused in this instance has suggested: Women who come forward and subject themselves to the scrutiny of national focus should be presumed to be relating an event the essence of which is real. The notion is that the reasons for keeping quiet at the time, fear of reprisal by a powerful man and fear for one’s career, not to mention the discomfort attendant all sexual allegations, combine to excuse the uncertainties that naturally accompany other non-sexual accusations made years after an event. Women do not come forward given all the horrors that come with it, unless they are telling a truth.
But that is simply the presumption. As Biden rightly says in his interview, the matter needs to be looked into and examined. Here the principal question has to do with corroboration. Did the accuser actually experience something that resulted in her complaining to SOMEONE at the time, for example. It is absurd to think that a person would complain falsely at the time in order to have ammunition against a powerful person when it might mean something 20+ years later.
In this regard, Ms. Brezinski was missing in action since she mentioned none of what could be considered corroboration in the case of Reade vs. Biden. But we can still have our trial, as was possible in the “Morning Joe” show two days ago. It might have gone something like this:
Vice President Biden, obviously a proper investigation in this case and some sort of hearing or trial that would allow the American people to come to their own conclusions concerning these allegations against you is not possible. I would like to do my part in pursuit of truth by exploring what the world knows from the public record.
To start, you agree that you employed Tara Reade as a staffer for a period of time around 1993 where at some point she supervised interns working in your office, correct?
According to you, you are unaware of any complaints she had concerning your conduct at the time, is that true?
You first became aware of some complaint by her a year or so ago when she and seven or so other women publicly complained of your physical treatment of them, your invasion of their space, if you will, uncomfortable, unwanted touching and the like, correct?
And as I understand it from your public declarations, you agree that her criticisms and those of the other women were entirely reasonable; which is to say you acknowledge that the conduct of which she complained was inappropriate.
Now, concerning the alleged assault in 1993, you acknowledge that she complained about your conduct toward her to some friends and family, more or less contemporaneously, and mentioned it again in 1995; is that right?
You are further aware that Tara Reade’s mother called Larry King on television in 1994 and made reference to her daughter’s complaint.
These matters are some of what determines the credibility of a survivor, corroboration in the form of a contemporaneous complaint, correct?
You, as a politician have promoted the understandings that survivors don’t always come forward to authorities at the time for a variety of reasons, including fears for their careers as well as possible reprisal by a powerful abuser.
In addition, you are aware of the fact that the difficulty of the subject matter means that the full sum and substance of what happened is not necessarily presented at once, but may take years for the survivor to handle emotionally?
And you are famous for your declaration that someone in Tara Reade’s position should be presumed truthful as she puts forth her complaint now.
You were once a public defender, and have been involved in criminal justice concerns for decades, right?
So you are familiar with the fact that denial on the part of the accused is not, and cannot be, dispositive of anything? Not every one, but every kind of criminal has denied wrongdoing dishonestly, true?
And it is also an established fact that the manner of the denial, the forcefulness, its articulation, cannot be the end of any inquiry, because all of that can be faked and learned and practiced, correct?
As a further piece of corroboration to which Ms. Reade’s supporters refer is the fact that her job of supervising interns changed abruptly at the time of the allegation. That must be considered corroborative, do you not agree?
A record of her complaining, apparently, according to her, about mistreatment due to an uncomfortable work environment, would not add a lot to what we know already, correct? She does not say she complained of sexual assault, chickening out from such a complaint at the time, as you understand it, correct?
Whatever record exists would be unnecessary given the fact of her contemporaneous complaints of an unofficial nature, you agree?
You acknowledge already that her duties changed precipitously, as the interns have recently asserted?
Now, if there were some sort of official complaint, of whatever nature, that should have been preserved, there are reasons for its potential improper removal, correct? With or without your approval, some person could have taken steps in an effort to protect your political future? You agree with that?
The unfortunate fact is that Tara Reade’s accusation passes all of the tests of a past complaint of sexual misconduct, that make it believable, would you agree? And were it not you, but someone else, wouldn’t you say that their simply denying the accusation should not be sufficient to answer the question or end the inquiry.
Would you agree that the only explanation for Ms. Reade subjecting herself to the kind of scrutiny she is undergoing, if this allegation is false, is mental illness. And you know of no evidence of pathological delusion on her part.
Some have pointed to out-of-the-mainstream views concerning Russia or Putin as evidence that she should not be believed, you are aware of those attacks on her credibility? You don’t adopt them do you?
You acknowledge that strange or uncommon views on world events or personalities do not, and should not, make unworthy of belief the sort of complaint made against you. People with unusual opinions are entirely capable of being victims of sexual assault, right?
Further, she is a lawyer in good standing presumptively worthy of belief, whose complaint, you agree, pre-exists any statements or writings on twitter or elsewhere to which reference has been made by your defenders, isn’t that right?
You agree that a person’s general tendency towards telling the truth should be part of an assessment of their allegation of sexual assault, or their denial of sexual assault, correct?
With regard to your denial we are forced to consider a number of matters in your history. For example, you were forced out of a presidential race in 1988 because of false statements about your academic record and at least two instances of plagiarism, true?
You have acknowledged that your vote for the Iraq War was a mistake, but you have claimed to have been opposed to that war from the moment it started. There are multiple instances of you promoting the military action after its commencement, aren’t there, calling into question the veracity of your more recent public pronouncements made in pursuit of the presidency?
Your statements about your support for cutting social security have also been untrue and the subject of criticism have they not? Your claims of having marched in the civil rights movement, and being arrested in South Africa have also been scrutinized for a lack of veracity? And you have admitted and apologized for not telling the truth concerning these matters, true?
And I am sorry to have to bring it up, but you apologized after his death and to his family for having said that the driver of the truck involved in the accident that led to the deaths of your family members had drunk his lunch when that was not only false but he was entirely blameless in the event. That is true is it not?
And you are ultimately responsible for attempting to mislead the investigation into this very complaint by submitting to people such as Stacy Abrams talking points for their media appearances that falsely cited the New York Times as having deeply investigated the allegations and found them to be untrue, a patently dishonest assertion.
Were you personally the impetus behind the inclusion of that false idea in those talking points? Or was that the effort of some staffer trying to protect your political viability now as another may well have 27 years ago, or since, if no record of Ms. Reade’s complaint is found in your archived documents?
I think it unlikely that Joe Biden would ever agree to such an examination, because these questions contain the most damning amalgamation of evidence, every piece of which is part of the public record. What is demonstrated here is that while Tara Reade should be presumed to be telling the truth in the first instance, there is no reason that can be produced by Joe Biden not to conclude that he raped her as she has claimed.
As a strategic matter, it may be impossible not to vote for Biden if his name is on the ballot in November. There is another matter with which Democrats are confronted right now, however. Each of us must demand that Joe Biden step down from the presidential campaign for the good of the nation. It may well be impossible to predict what the ticket will look like should he do this, but there is not the slightest question that the country will be better off with his replacement…unless it is Hillary Clinton.