Tara Reade, a former Joe Biden staffer, says that he sexually assaulted her. This story has been spinning around Twitter for a while. I didn’t give it much credence, but more recent reporting has me concerned. Regardless what the truth is here, it’s very sad.
Reade worked for Biden when she was in her 20s. When she first discussed the matter publicly, she described the kind of stuff we’ve come to expect from Biden. She said he would “put his hand on my shoulder and run his finger up my neck.” But more recently, she has expanded the story — and the crime. She now alleges that Biden penetrated her with his finger. Legally, I think this would qualify as rape.
As I mentioned, I didn’t think much about Reade’s claims because it seemed like nothing more than yet another pointless battle in the Biden-Sanders war. But when I looked into it, the allegations seemed credible. That’s not to say that she’s telling the truth. I really have no idea. But there are things that tend to make me believe her.
In particular, she told her brother and friend at the time that this happened. But it hasn’t been thoroughly reported. In Ryan Grimm’s article, he reports, that she told them “about the incident.” Is this the inappropriate touching or the penetration? I tend to think it is the latter because he mentions “sexual assault.” (Grimm never calls it rape.)
Biden has unequivocally denied the allegation. Clearly, it is a story that needs more reporting.
The Two Sides
Meanwhile, the battle rages on among the Biden and Sanders supporters. As usual, I find them both wanting.
The Biden Camp
On the Biden side, people dismiss Tara Reade because of a now-deleted Medium article she wrote where she gushed about Vladimir Putin. She has defended herself by saying that her opinion has changed and that she was then writing a novel set in Russia.
I can see why people find this suspect. Just the same, I can so see myself doing the same thing. When I’m researching something new, I often get very excited about it. So I don’t have a problem believing her explanation.
On the other hand, maybe she is a Russian asset. Like I said: I don’t know.
The Sanders Camp
I understand Sanders supporters who think that Biden is a less than stellar candidate to go up against Trump. I agree although I blame the the Sanders campaign and its poor performance as much as anyone.
In the case of Tara Reade, the Sanders side is reacting the way they have to every other thing that’s come up to attack Biden. I don’t see any more thought given to it than to the ridiculous “Biden has dementia” claims.
And it’s sad because a lot of Sanders supporters don’t seem to realize how important Reade’s claims are. For many, this is just another stick to hit Biden with. But if what she says is true, this will change the primary, but not in the way that they think.
Sanders is not going to be the Democratic nominee. It is not really possible for Sanders to catch Biden. So even if Biden drops out, the nomination is going to be thrown to the party. And they will pick a unity candidate — almost certainly a woman. (And no; I’m not thinking of Warren.)
A Sad Story
So all the glee I hear coming from Sanders supporters is ill-advised. This is important stuff. If Reade is deluded, I feel for her. If she isn’t, Biden is a monster — or at least was at that time.
I’m not sure what happens if it is shown that he is guilty. But most likely, what will happen is that the allegation will remain but no other women will come forward and we will never know.
And we will be left with the uncertain and sad world we’ve always had.
Update (1 April 2020)
I’ve read more about this and I’m as confused as ever. But I’m at least more secure about what both sides are saying in this fight.
Brian & Eddie Krassenstein wrote Evidence Casts Doubt on Tara Reade’s Sexual Assault Allegations of Joe Biden. They deliver on that title but nothing they report is rock solid. It literally does cast doubt but doesn’t destroy her claim.
The one thing I found most interesting was how positive Reade had been toward Biden in the past. Human psychology is weird though. The article is worth a read.
More important, Emily Alford wrote at Jezebel Tara Reade’s Allegations Deserve More Care. It gets to the heart of what’s so troubling about the reporting on this: that there is none. There are tons of people and documents that need to be checked that simply have not been. And as Alford notes, this all should have been done before Reade’s allegations were pushed into public.
And this is just the most basic reporting that needs to be done. The most troubling thing about the allegations is that I’ve never heard whispers that Biden was a sexual predator. Generally, guys don’t do this kind of thing just once. What normally makes allegations of this type stick is that there is an existing narrative that simply isn’t well-known outside a particular group — like was the case with Harvey Weinstein.
The lack of all these pieces does a disservice to both Reade and Biden. And sadly, I suspect that we will continue on like this with both sides convinced they are right and no one in a position to do the reporting caring enough about getting to the truth.