If I were sitting on a jury and told to come to a verdict based on the evidence presented so far, I would have to acquit. There is too much reasonable doubt to do otherwise. I realize this does not mean that the events didn’t happen as alleged. It just means that the evidence is insufficient to prove it.
If Reade did, in fact, report this to the Senate ethics office as she claims now, the Obama campaign would have known about it while vetting Biden as a potential VP. It would likely have disqualified him from consideration. Obama jettisoned Tom Daschle for HHS Sec over withholding information on a financial disclosure. He would not have chosen a second-in-command with an outstanding assault allegation. Again, that does not mean the assault didn’t happen as alleged. It simply means there is reasonable doubt about the paper trail Reade claims to have left.
Joe Biden has a long and documented history of hugging and kissing women without their consent. However, those gestures have always taken place in public and, in the case of kissing, are not forcible kisses to the mouth but weird, awkward cheek or top-of-head kisses. These actions are disrespectful and inappropriate. However, from what I have observed of this behavior, it doesn’t appear to be the kind acts of sexual entitlement we have seen with men like Matt Lauer or Bill Clinton. It’s a more of a condescending paternalism.
No women other than Reade have ever accused Biden of anything even similar to what she alleges. There is no pattern emerging. In other cases, such as that of Al Franken or Anthony Weiner, the pattern was unmistakable. If what Reade says happened did happen, it seems to be an isolated incident.
I concede that there is a possibility that something humiliating and traumatic transpired between Joe Biden and Tara Reade. I have no idea if it was what she says it was. I have no idea if Biden would even remember the event in the kind of stark relief Reade would remember it because it’s likely that a powerful man would view every event differently than a less powerful woman would.
I will not engage in public scrutiny of Reade’s character. That isn’t at issue.
I know exactly why Joe Biden and his team would lie about this if he is guilty. I don’t know why Tara Reade would lie about this if he is not guilty. I have opinions about it but they are rank speculation and I will keep them to myself.
There is no such thing as a man who is not a threat to the rights and safety of women. Every man on every ballot has the power to make women less safe. That is also true of elected women but they have a shorter history of doing harm to women than male politicians in America do.
On balance, Joe Biden will do less harm to women than Donald Trump has already done and will continue to do. Joe Biden has also made affirmative attempts to do right by women. Donald Trump never has.
I will be voting for Joe Biden in November.
Photo credit: Official White House Photo by David Lienemann