Silence undermines credibility once again
By Matthew Fraser, Opinions Editor
If nothing else the COVID-19 pandemic has made the importance of trustable leaders much clearer. As the days go by and people clamour for a sense of solidarity and direction, it’s important to see the face of power remain calm, collected, and reliable. For some people Joe Biden appears to be exactly that; with more than 40 years of political experience including eight years as vice-president, Biden appears to be the antidote to the Trump inspired misgivings of the left. Yet, at 77 Biden is beginning to show the infirmities of his age in what some observers have viewed as dementia symptoms.
Worse still, Biden has shown a propensity for close and often unnerving physical contact between himself and any woman who he encounters. At first, these habits were downplayed as being hallmarks of an older, overly affectionate but ultimately harmless uncle. But early last year eight women came forward with accusations and even video evidence of his misdeeds. Biden was forced to backtrack and vow to do better. Tara Reade, one of the women who came forward, has recently returned to major prominence by expanding upon her accusation against Joe Biden. She now claims that at one point, Biden pushed her against a wall, reached beneath her skirt and sexually assaulted her.
Talk like this should rightfully incense the modern political sphere and reignite the #MeToo movement but somehow Biden has remained unquestioned and, to a certain degree, unaffected. How could the unrelenting push for change that was the #MeToo movement become so impotent in front of such a serious test?
For one, the COVID-19 pandemic has given cover for this allegation to slip under; there has been no better a diversion for a moral fault than a global pandemic. Even still, New York Times took 19 days to publish a story on the assault after Reade made her story public—in stark contrast to the next day coverage of the Kavanaugh accusation. When they did put out a story on Biden, it was severely neutered and buried 20 pages deep. In an interview with Ben Smith, NYT Editor-in-Chief Dean Baquet admits to altering the story at the request of the Biden campaign; objective journalism would never alter or soften a story at the request of a liberal person, and certainly not at the request of a republican. And when confronted about the difference in coverage between the Kavanaugh allegations and Biden’s, Baquet reasoned that “Kavanaugh was already in the public forum in a big way,” and that Tara Reade and her story were not. Are we to believe that being a vice-president no longer counts as being part of the public forum in a big way? How about chairing the Anita Hill investigation; suddenly, overseeing someone else’s sexual assault case isn’t part of the public forum when it comes time for one’s own? Not to mention essentially being the titular democratic presidential nominee?
As if the media silence wasn’t enough, even government officials have been silent about the case at hand. At the time of writing only AOC had acknowledged the allegations, and in an interview with The Wing she likened the silence to a form of gaslighting. As the much-vaunted liberal saying goes: “your silence is deafening.” The caution and skepticism that prevails the Reade statement call into question another oft used liberal call: believe all women. Suddenly it appears that activists no longer truly think all women are to be taken as automatic truth sayers due to their femininity. It appears that now, prudence, fact weighing, corroboration, and skepticism are the way to engage these accusations. This time, we are not to immediately yank the path to power and office from a man accused of sexual assault, this time we can politely ask a woman to hold that thought indefinitely or not publish her story at all. Never mind that Tara Reade has been able to prove portions of her story in a manner unlike Blasey Ford before her, and forget that Reade has been able to show without a shadow of a doubt that she was in close direct contact with Biden as an intern; ignore that family members recall her recounting allegations before this public announcement. Apparently, the #BelieveWomen law is much more flexible than its champions originally let on.
The “vote blue no matter who” sect have found a simple and flimsy stance with which to defend their champion: he’s hurt less than Trump has. But is that really the characteristic we want to back a presidential candidate with? That he’s comparatively less awful? To put a scale down and say “eight shoulder rubs and a little unwanted groping is less horrific than bragging about pussy grabbing” is to reassure perpetrators that some access is still granted while confirming to women that they are only to be heard when it is politically expedient for someone else. It’s this willingness to adjust for the individual that makes many a liberal seem so odious. Backing off because ousting an enemy sometimes requires unsavory actions is a testament to the highest levels of hypocrisy.