A Referendum on the Truth: #MeToo Comes for Biden
Updated: May 6, 2020
The #MeToo Movement Comes for Biden
Joe Biden publicly addressed Tara Reade’s allegations this week. In an interview with Mika Brzezinski on Morning Joe, he denied the accusations flat out: “I’m saying unequivocally it never, never happened.”
The tide is starting to turn against Biden. After weeks of silence about the accusations, articles in the major newspapers are drawing more attention to Reade’s allegations and Biden’s hypocrisy. Andrew Sullivan wrote, “The problem with defending due process in a case like Biden’s with respect to Tara Reade is that Biden himself, when it comes to allegations of sexual abuse and harassment, doesn’t believe in it.” The situation Sullivan and many others are now referring to was Biden’s push for Title IX reform, and the no-tolerance policy the Obama administration advocated on college campuses - “If Biden were a student, under Biden rules, Reade could file a claim of assault, and Biden would have no right to know the specifics, the evidence provided, who was charging him, who was a witness, and no right to question the accuser. Apply the Biden standard for Biden, have woke college administrators decide the issue in private, and he’s toast.” Now he’s found himself on the wrong side of the issue.
Let’s make a careful distinction, though; nothing has changed about sexual assault. It is still one of the most destructive evils of our society. We have to continue to root it out, protect women who have been afraid to talk about what has happened to them and create a better world for little girls, who are growing up in a world where almost one in five of them will be sexually assaulted. The absolute insidiousness of sexual assault is not the question. These policies that Biden and many others have advanced were bad policies. They make the problem worse. Now that they’ve become subject to their own standards, they don’t like the policies either.
“Believe all women” was an overreaction to a genuine problem, and there needs to be a pendulum swing back toward the middle, preferably back toward the rights of justice and due process. What Biden and the media outlets who have shielded him are attempting to do is erase the progress of the #MeToo movement out of political expediency. This is why the movement began in the first place. Elizabeth Bruenig pointed this out in the New York Times, “It is still possible — if not likely — that all of this will simply fade away, and that Mr. Biden will continue his campaign without ever submitting to a full accounting, precisely the sort of thing #MeToo was meant to prevent.” She concludes that it’s time to start looking for plan B.
Does It Matter?
Don’t expect many Democrats to change their vote, though. Sullivan ends his article with a sober and cynical line, “I’ll vote for him anyway, because Trump. If you’re using sexual assault as a way to judge a candidacy, Trump’s open record of boasting about it, and the long, long list of women he’s abused and assaulted is surely dispositive. But supporting Biden does mean I’ll be voting for a hypocrite who wants to ruin others’ young lives for what he has routinely and with impunity done. I can live with that, I suppose. And it won’t, of course, be the first time. Or, in all likelihood, the last.” Rightly or wrongly, he won’t be alone. These allegations are more than a referendum on the Biden candidacy. They continue the referendum on American politics and the American media.
Joe Biden is not the one who can control the way this issue is handled. He can release his records at the University of Delaware, which he has refused to do. He can stop applying pressure to keep investigations from happening. Ultimately, though, Biden can’t control the way this issue is handled. He doesn’t need to do an inquiry: he knows what happened. Only the media can do that.
Even more importantly, only we can decide whether or not these allegations matter. It’s up to the people to vote and to hold leaders accountable. It would be nice to have candidates in the two major American political parties who were not credibly accused of sexual assault, along with a long list of other formerly-reasonable desires, and I believe we’ll have better candidates in the future. For the time being, these allegations won’t solve that problem. But maybe they will bring double standards, hypocrisy, and the duplicity of the way accusations of sexual assault have been handled to light.
The Truth Matters Most
As Biden said in his interview with Mika Brzezinski, in the end, “the truth is what matters.” This is the right position, even if Biden doesn’t believe it. As I wrote during the Kavanaugh hearings, if he really had sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford and lied about it, then he should not be appointed for life to the highest court in the land. But he deserved due process. After the Senate hearings, and especially after the information that has come out over the last year, it does not appear that Kavanaugh did assault any of the accusers. It does look like the Democratic members of the Senate Judicial committee manipulated information to smear a candidate they didn’t like. These same senators, who scrutinized Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook and called for him to withdraw - even if he hadn’t assaulted Christine Blasey-Ford - have been remarkably silent this time around. Now they’re “reaping the whirlwind.” In Biden’s case, if he assaulted Tara Reade and lied about it, he should not be serving in the highest office in the land. Let’s investigate and see. That’s all we can say at this point, but it is what we must say.
The central point in all of this is that our society is built on a commitment to the rule of law, to finding the truth, and to protecting the innocent. That means everyone deserves the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty. That means every person should be ensured protection in bringing forth an accusation, and every person should be protected from false accusations. As Ben Sasse made clear in the Kavanaugh hearings, we can stand up for women, shift the balance of power, and bring justice to victims without upending our system of justice.
We live in an imperfect world, but these are our ideals. Every single one of these facets of due process depends on finding the truth, telling the truth, and submitting to the truth. That’s not just our standard as citizens of the United States of America; it is our commitment as Christians. We’re being pressed on every side right now to abandon our commitment to the truth. It’s as if we’re being given a series of temptations, and the question is being posed: what would you give in exchange for the truth? Reputation? Being respected? Political power? Our society is unwilling to trade the fleeting machinations of power for the truth. Will we be any different? Our highest allegiance is to God, and his son, Jesus Christ. He is the truth. He is the one of whom Paul said in Romans 3:4, “Let God be true, though every man a liar.” We know he will fulfill his promises. Let’s live like it.
Cole Feix is the founder and president of So We Speak.