The shameless hypocrisy of Joe Biden

He says we must ‘believe all women’ – except, apparently, Tara Reade.

Sean Collins
US correspondent

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After weeks of facing pressure to respond, Joe Biden has used a TV interview to deny that he sexually assaulted a former Senate aide, Tara Reade, in 1993. ‘No, it is not true. I’m saying unequivocally it never happened’, he said, on MSNBC last week.

Biden wants the American people to give him the benefit of the doubt, to presume his innocence. His plea is not unreasonable. The problem is that few American politicians have done more to undermine the presumption of innocence in sexual-assault claims than Biden. As KC Johnson, author of The Campus Rape Frenzy, has put it, ‘Perhaps no major American political figure has so consistently championed the erosion of due process of those accused of sexual misconduct’. Under the standards Biden has applied to others who have been accused, he would be drummed out of public life immediately. His presidential candidacy would come crashing down.

In 2011, Biden, along with then education secretary Arne Duncan, announced new guidance on Title IX law concerning sexual harassment and violence on college campuses. Under the new policy, Biden and Duncan lowered the bar for campus disciplinary proceedings to a ‘preponderance of evidence’ standard and removed protections for the accused. Biden was a social-justice warrior when it came to this issue, loudly proclaiming his broader intention: ‘We need a fundamental change in our culture. And the quickest way to change culture is to change it on [the] campuses of America.’

Thanks to Biden, many college men had their rights denied and were presumed guilty. His reforms led to hundreds of accused young men being expelled and having their reputations destroyed. Now he wants to avoid the same fate.

Biden’s illiberal moves in the sphere of higher education also had an impact on the broader culture. You could say it contributed in a big way to the #MeToo movement. That overzealous movement has led to many high-profile figures being unjustly cancelled from public life, including former Democratic senator Al Franken. As Franken’s fellow Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand said around the time, ‘The women who came forward felt it was sexual harassment. So it was.’ Biden didn’t defend Franken, and yet now he wants the fair hearing that Franken was denied.

This shift in the culture also emboldened Democrats to seek to deny Brett Kavanaugh a seat on the Supreme Court. According to Biden and his fellow party members, Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, was a courageous truth-teller who should be believed without question. Now, he wants the chance for self-defence that he didn’t think Kavanaugh deserved.

Mika Brzezinski, Biden’s interviewer on MSNBC last week, asked him how he can square his past comments with his defence against Reade. ‘Are women to be believed, unless it pertains to you?’, she asked. He bristled. ‘Look, women are to be believed’, he said. We should ‘start off with the presumption they are telling the truth. Then you have to look at the circumstances and the facts. And the facts in this case do not exist – they never happened.’

In other words, Biden would like to have due process applied to his case. But that is not the standard he has preached up to now – which was ‘believe women’ full stop, with no need for due process. Speaking in 2016, Biden claimed it was unacceptable that any woman claiming sexual assault would be subject to scrutiny. They should never be asked questions like ‘Were you drinking?’ and ‘What did you say?’, he said. ‘No one, particularly a court of law, has a right to ask any of those questions.’ So much for getting to the bottom of what really happened in cases like this.

Regarding Kavanaugh’s accuser, Blasey Ford, Biden said, ‘For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus, nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real, whether or not she forgets facts.’ Back then he thought even the facts didn’t matter.

It would be one thing if Biden said he has now seen the light, recognised his past views were wrong, and insisted he would respect due process going forward. But he’s not. Even today, amid defending himself, he wants to deny others the right to a fair hearing in matters of sexual assault. In 2017, as education secretary Betsy DeVos promoted reforms to restore fairness and due process on campus, Biden called DeVos and her supporters ‘cultural Neanderthals’. He still hasn’t renounced that view. The Biden campaign’s platform includes the objective to ‘restore Title IX guidance for colleges’. Furthermore, he will ‘increase fines’ and ‘develop stronger enforcement protocols’ to impose this. In other words, he is promising to be more prejudicial, and come down even harsher, against the accused on campus.

Democrats, desperate to dethrone Trump, are hoping the Tara Reade story will just fade away. Prominent women in the party, who were once among the most zealous in the ‘believe women’ campaign, like Stacey Abrams, are now saying ‘I believe Joe Biden’. What hypocrites.

Right now, Biden leads Trump in the polls in the key swing states. But it’s still early, and his lead is far from secure. Democrats are clearly nervous about him. And his campaign was already rickety. He routinely freezes in interviews or unleashes a farrago of gibberish. Abiding by the Covid-19 restrictions, he remains ensconced in his basement bunker. The Reade allegations just add to this impression of a shaky candidate.

Biden and the Democrats have been hoist with their own petard. In a sense, it seems only right that Biden should have to suffer what he would like to impose on others. But the principles of due process and presumption of innocence remain vital ones, even for those, like Biden, who only claim them opportunistically, to save their own hides. It’s wrong for people to be forced to resign or withdraw from the public arena on the basis of unproven allegations, especially those that are decades old. Barring any new revelations, Biden doesn’t deserve to be brought down by this.

I just don’t want to hear anything more from Biden and his friends about the need to ‘believe all women’. It simply means ‘damn all accused’ – except for Biden.

Sean Collins is a writer based in New York. Visit his blog, The American Situation.

Picture by: Getty.

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Comments

Walter Mitty

6th May 2020 at 7:54 pm

I hate seeing a person potentially destroyed via 20 year (or more) old allegations but there is a small part of me that is enjoying seeing the madness of BelieveAllWomen boomeranging on these same people who so forcefully pushed that idea.

Was there ever a more stupid concept than automatically believing someone purely on their gender and not the evidence.

Adamsson 66

6th May 2020 at 3:23 pm

Look he’s an old man with dementia he should be left to enjoy what little time he has left.

Mor Vir

6th May 2020 at 9:04 am

Alex Salmond got a proper trial about accusations of misconduct against him and none of them stuck.

Closer to home, yet another in a string of polls this year shows support for Scottish independence at 50% or above. SNP is also riding high in the polls with over 60% support among the under-50s. Scottish independence is inevitable now. England is headed for its own independence, courtesy of everyone else, so it may as well make the psychological adjustment now.

> Latest poll shows SNP riding high as Scots back Nicola Sturgeon’s handling of Covid crisis

The headline YouGov numbers were really very striking, with approval of the Scottish Government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis at an overwhelming 74 per cent, confidence in Nicola Sturgeon at 71 per cent, SNP Holyrood voting intention at 54 per cent and SNP Westminster voting intention at 51 per cent.

In contrast, the UK’s Government handling of the crisis saw 47 per cent thinking they were doing well, with 48 per cent badly.

With elections taking place next year for the Scottish Parliament, it’s really interesting to delve into the detail of the poll which shows how popular the SNP is now with women: with a jaw-dropping 59 per cent compared with 50 per cent amongst men.

The only higher level of support is amongst 18-24 and 25-49 aged voters where it is currently running at 65 per cent and 62 per cent respectively.

– Edinburgh News

Mor Vir

6th May 2020 at 9:20 am

And indeed, the new YouGov poll suggests that England is making the psychological adjustment to its own independence, as most indicate that they could not care less whether NI stays in the Union.

> Britons see themselves as having less in common with Northern Ireland, and support the region holding a reunification referendum

The results of a new YouGov survey have shown that, in principle, more Brits are supportive of a border poll taking place in Northern Ireland than against it by 36% to 25%. A further 39% responded that they didn’t know, showing a strong element of disinterest amongst the British public.

It appears there is significant disinterest amongst the British public regarding the future of Northern Ireland, as more than half of all Brits (54%) say they would not be bothered either way by the region leaving the UK. Since YouGov last asked in October of last year how Brits would feel, the total that said they would be upset by the region’s departure dropped 17 percentage points from 41% to 24%.

In spite of its official name, the ‘Conservative and Unionist Party’ appears especially ambivalent to the end of the Union, with 53% of Conservative voters indicating they wouldn’t care if Northern Ireland left the UK.

Indeed, when the public were asked which country Northern Ireland had more in common with, only 28% said the region shared more in common with Britain, while 40% said it was more similar to Ireland. One in five Brits (19%) think Northern Ireland has much more in common with Ireland, revealing how similar Brits perceive the two to be.

– YouGov

Jerry Owen

6th May 2020 at 9:31 am

Mor Vir
What on earth has your post got to do with Biden?
But your bit on the inevitability of Scottish independence because of opinion polls is wrong headed.

Mor Vir

6th May 2020 at 9:46 am

It just goes to show that politicians have got everything to gain from due process – unless they are guilty, of course. A politician who does not support due process – well, what does that suggest?

And a politician who says that accusers should be believed without due process is just plain daft. And as the Biden case shows, what goes around comes around.

SNP came out of due process with 60% voting intention among women. That is how serious politicians handle allegations. Biden by contrast is looking hypocritical and frankly daft.

Mor Vir

6th May 2020 at 10:00 am

Opinion polls in Scotland have been pretty accurate in projecting both party support and support for independence. The shift clearly is toward majority support for independence, and the higher support among under-50s implies that it is only a matter of time.

Most Englanders could not care less whether the union continues, if you want to be ‘upset’ about it, then that is up to you.

ZENOBIA PALMYRA

6th May 2020 at 11:34 am

It’s about time the Scots learned to stand on their own two feet, rather than parasiting off England.

James Conner

6th May 2020 at 11:57 am

Scotland would be in deep shit without the support of England. But because the Nationalists are a bunch of dim-witted short sighted cretins, I happen to think that eventually the SNP will succeed, and when that happens it will be interesting to see Scotland flush itself down the toilet.

With plummeting revenue from North Sea oil, cast adrift from the Pound and the Bank of England as Lender of Last Resort, and ignored by the EU, it promises to be quite amusing.

Eliot Jordan

6th May 2020 at 3:27 pm

If you got our of your Nat bubble you would realise the majority of people don’t want independence

Mor Vir

6th May 2020 at 10:48 pm

That is not what the polls say, do not get too upset about it.

Neil McCaughan

6th May 2020 at 10:01 pm

“Alex Salmond got a proper trial about accusations of misconduct against him and none of them stuck.”
Though his Counsel was heard to admit their truth.

Walter Mitty

7th May 2020 at 8:45 am

Don’t like Salmond but this isn’t an accurate representation of what his lawyer was caught saying. The lawyer said Salmond was a pest but not criminal that clearly doesn’t equate to the accusations being truthful as he was accused of criminal acts.

Danny Rees

6th May 2020 at 7:48 am

I always say to those who say “I believe her”, would you believe her if it was your son, brother of father facing such allegations?
The concept of innocent until proven guilty regarding rape allegations has all but been abandoned by the feminist Left who label those who still believe in and uphold such a principle as a “rape apologist”.

Ed Turnbull

6th May 2020 at 8:52 am

It’s not just the presumption of innocence that’s come under attack in the last 20 or so years. There are now a number of offences for which you no longer have the right to not incriminate yourself, and the double jeopardy rule has similarly been ditched. That the people haven’t been taking to the streets in opposition to these assaults on justice is worrying to say the least. That kind of public acquiescence is every tyrant’s dream.

Walter Mitty

7th May 2020 at 9:10 am

Even worse is the people that say the innocent until proven guilty principle is only in a criminal sense and they use this as a justification for treating an innocent person as guilty. It should be an unqualified presumption of innocent.

James Conner

6th May 2020 at 6:14 am

Do as I say, not as I do.

Dominic Straiton

6th May 2020 at 5:16 am

You can murder a hundred million people and thats just fine. According to Dianne Abbott it was “a price worth paying” so rape is really no problem as long as your politics is to l the left.

Danny Rees

6th May 2020 at 7:49 am

God you manage to throw in a comment about Diane Abbott on the comment section of a piece that literally has nothing to do with Diane Abbott. Obsessed much.

Ed Turnbull

6th May 2020 at 8:46 am

Actually Danny I think mention of Diane Abbott is entirely germane to this article. Ms Abbott is a fine exemplar of the double standards practiced by so many on the left. After all, she railed against private education while at the same time sending her son to such a school. A case of what’s sauce for the goose most definitely not being sauce for the gander…

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