Biden v. Kavanaugh

And a broader discussion of the ongoing Tara Reade story.

Let me start with an overarching statement. This story is steeped in partisanship, hypocrisy, and gender politics. It is fraught with pitfalls and complexities. All of those factors make it difficult to discuss dispassionately. Having said that, there are several threads to the Tara Reade story that I want to comment upon, so here we go.

Allow me, too, to provide a frame for my point-of-view. It is quite obvious to anyone who has read this site for any length of time that I believe the Trump presidency has been a disaster of historical proportions and that, therefore, I support whomever it is that runs against him in November. At a bare minimum, I want competence brought back to the executive branch.

Note, too, that I have not been a gung-ho supporter of Biden (indeed, I have not been enthusiastic about any of the Democratic choices). Biden was not my first choice and I had several reasons for preferring several other outcomes. In fact, one of those reasons (not the main one, but a reason) was that Biden’s touchy-feely Creepy Joe routine was going to increase the chances of allegations of more serious impropriety.

At this point, I don’t know what is true about Reade’s allegation. I did note in my first post on this subject that allegations are serious, that investigation is warranted, and that Biden has to address the issue.

At this point, the allegations are being taken seriously and are being investigated. Biden has denied the claims in writing and in an interview on MSNBC.

At this point, the story continues and I expect further investigation will continue.

I will state that I do not know if Reade or Biden is telling the truth. Odds are that there will not be definitive proof one way or the other, as is the nature of these things. I certainly agree (as I did with Brett Kavanaugh) that there is certainly not enough here to convict in a court of law. I will freely admit that I prefer that Biden be the one telling the truth here (which I recognize makes me non-neutral). I will also state that I do not want a president in office who has committed sexual assault.

An obvious recent parallel here is to the Brett Kavanaugh nomination.

First, let me review my own position on Kavanaugh. My basic position was that the allegations were serious enough to warrant a more thorough investigation than the one we got and that barring that investigation his nomination should have been withdrawn and a replacement named. Ultimately I found his demeanor during the hearings to be disqualifying for the job he was seeking and that he should have returned to his life appointment on the Court of Appeals.

My two key posts on that topic are the following:

In regards to my preference for an investigation, I wrote on September 23, 2018 (the first link):

…I recognize the problem associated with denying Kavanaugh the seat solely on an allegation.  Hence, my preference would be for the FBI to take this new information and engage in a thorough investigation.  I don’t think that press accounts about what Mark Judge or anyone else has said constitutes an investigation.  I just don’t think that potential witnesses will behave the same in the context of the FBI than they have in informal press contacts.  An investigation, by definition, should be able to take disparate pieces of information and see if there are connections to determine if more is to be discovered.  Just having dueling testimony by Kavanaugh and Ford strike me as wholly inadequate.


The bottom line is:  either do an adequate investigation, however long that takes, or if the political clock is too unfavorable to the White House, withdraw and send up a new nomination.  This is not an unreasonable position given that we are talking here about 1/9th of one three major constitutional institutions that form our basic system of government.

(Emphasis in the original).

I would add that not only was he up for 1/9th on one branch of government but that his appointment was for life. Indeed, given his age that he was (and now is) likely to serve for over three decades in this position.

I also stated (in the second link):

I totally agree that there was insufficient evidence to criminally charge, let alone convict, Kavanaugh of anything.  Further, I do not think there is anything that should lead to his removal from his previous job.  The issue at hand, and a topic that was not really discussed sufficiently, was the solemn privilege of being one of nine Supreme Court Justices.

Really, that should have said, “removal from his current job” (a lifetime appointment to the second most important court in the land, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit).

And my position for the withdrawal of his name was not based on the Ford allegations, but on his behavior in front of the Judiciary Committee (from the second link):

…I found his testimony about his drinking and treatment of women to be problematic.  I think that he dissembled, if not lied, because he did not want to create the possibility that he could have been too drunk at the party in question to remember it.  I, personally, find it unbelievable that he never drank to the point that he had memory gaps. I also think that he lied about a number of items in his yearbook because he did not want to look bad and risk his nomination.  That, to me, was lying for personal gain, and was, therefore, disqualifying. 

Putting Kavanaugh on the bench after that testimony helped deepen partisan divided and eroded confidence in the Court. And while defenders of Kavanaugh may point out that the Democrats are the ones who tainted Kavanaugh (although I would argue he tainted himself) the reality remains that had Kavanaugh’s nomination been pulled another Federalist Society approved, young (in relative terms), staunch conservative would have replaced him. From the point of view of the long-term ramifications for Court politics, there would have been no difference. A short-term setback for the Trump administration and its allies would still have resulted a long-term win.

Turning to Biden, my position remains that investigations should go forward. At this point, that means the press as there is no role for something like an FBI investigation/law enforcement as was the case in the context of a court appointment.

Biden has spoken and I expect he will have to speak further. Certainly, whoever is picked as his running mate will have to speak on this. I found his responses in the interview linked above to be adequate for now. I think that the push to open his archive of personal papers is a fishing expedition. It is wholly appropriate to ask the National Archives to look for Reade’s complaint (although an AP story today suggests that even if it is found, or even exists, it will not describe sexual harassment, let alone assault).

I reserve the right to change my mind on any of the above should new information come to light.

The politics of this situation are far trickier than with Kavanaugh. As noted, Trump was going to get the SCOTUS seat no matter what. Further, he was going to be able to fill it with a Kavanaugh-like candidate, no matter what (the only risk was waiting too long and losing the Senate in the 2018 midterms, which didn’t happen and was always highly unlikely). For the Democratic Party to attempt to replace Biden at this time, based on these allegations, would not result in some 1:1 trade-off.

First, there is no mechanism at the moment to even do so. Even if Biden were to withdraw, that doesn’t make Bernie the presumptive nominee. It would simply mean that the convention, months from now, would have to pick a nominee, and could theoretically be anyone qualified to be president. This would mean utter chaos for the party and for the country (during a pandemic all in the context of the already contentious Trump presidency).

Second, a replacement at this point would be swapping out a clear consensus candidate for an unknown quantity. This would be potential political suicide for the Democrats that in no way resembles what replacing Kavanaugh with another nominee would have wrought for Republicans in 2018.

Granted, if incontrovertible evidence were to emerge of Biden’s behavior, or if there is a cavalcade of credible accusations on the horizon, all of this changes.

The unfortunate truth of the matter is that the worst-case scenario we face as a nation is that both candidates for president will have serious allegations of sexual misconduct on their records (which would clearly not be my preference). After all, Trump has 25 such allegations, not to mention a history of infidelity that includes paying off a porn star for silence about an affair. And, of course, this:

Trump: Yeah, that’s her. With the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.\

Bush: Whatever you want.

Trump: Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.

You know, standard locker room talk. And, as such, it is incredibly problematic to hear Trump-supporting Republicans talk about hypocrisy on this subject.

And while I will state again that investigations should continue, it is an interesting coincidence that Biden is being accused of what Trump claimed he frequently did.

I would conclude by pointing out that I have noted in the past in conversations with regulars here at the site that we have to remember that partisanship allows a lot of Republicans to rationalize their support for Trump. I have to admit that in the comment sections here at OTB (and in the wider world), I have seen some of that same kind of rationalization to support Biden. No one is immune.

FILED UNDER: 2020 Election, Supreme Court, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Jim Brown 32 says:

    Lets talk about the elephant in the room. Sexual Assault/Harassment allegations have become weaponized so powerful people can damage politicians who are obstacles to their agenda. Sometimes, the rest of us find ourselves cheering for or against the allegations depending on the target. But lets not be Pollyannas that this “awareness” is somehow making life easier for the millions of women subjected to creepism in the workplace.

    Democrats need to wake up and stop being binary about everything. What is the goal? Minimize creepism and allow society to remedy its victims. That is a broader issue than the “moral purity” of sheetcanning your own politicians (who would help build those mechanisms to minimize creepism). Politicians are tools to be used as a means to an ends–they can have some moral ambiguity and still achieve those ends. Ambiguity is endemic to the human condition. Do you know what’s not endemic? Zero defects. Zero defect culture is why you can’t find a quorum of good leadership in large organizations so that they are responsive, adaptable, and can remain relevant. The leaders you want have defects–and learn for them. These zero defect leaders hide their flaws and you don’t realize it until there is a crisis and they can’t lead you to the promise land.

    Most of the governors that people are saying “So and so for President!” wouldn’t get so much as a sniff pre-covid because of “baggage”. Well, real leaders come with baggage. If you don’t want baggage, you want a cult leader.

  2. Scott F. says:

    First of all, thank you for this post, Steven. It is as fairly argued and comprehensive a commentary on this subject as I have seen. I back your statement in full.

    I would only add, as a consistent Democratic voter, if not perhaps a partisan, a commitment on my part. If Tara Reade were to do what Christine Blasey Ford did, which is testify under oath before Congress, and if Joe Biden were to respond (also under oath) with the dissembling that Brett Kavanaugh did, I will wholly embrace the “utter chaos” of naming another candidate through the convention. Political suicide or not.

  3. mattbernius says:

    Thanks for writing that Steven. It articulated a lot of things I have been thinking (and far better than I would have).

  4. Scott F. says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Professionally, I train/coach for Zero Defect in business/manufacturing operations. You know the one factor in the endeavor that is understood to have no corrective action? – – – Human fallibility.

  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Jim Brown 32:
    Maximum upvote.

  6. Moosebreath says:

    @Scott F.:

    “I would only add, as a consistent Democratic voter, if not perhaps a partisan, a commitment on my part. If Tara Reade were to do what Christine Blasey Ford did, which is testify under oath before Congress, and if Joe Biden were to respond (also under oath) with the dissembling that Brett Kavanaugh did, I will wholly embrace the “utter chaos” of naming another candidate through the convention. Political suicide or not.”

    Pretty much agreed, except I would add the word “credibly” with respect to Reade’s testimony before Congress.

  7. Joe says:

    And while I will state again that investigations should continue

    I don’t disagree with anything you said, but an investigation by whom to what end? I am pretty confident that any investigation will fall along a spectrum running from LWNJs going after Reade, along with a lot of whataboutism continuing through serious journalistic attempts to get the available information to voters and continuing thought RWNJs going after Biden with a heaping helping of whataboutism. Most voters will pick their stories according to their own predilections and very few have the time and energy to otherwise figure out which story is which. Thus, absent one side or other confessing to his/her lies independently to all cable news networks, this story just hangs out there and will tell you a lot more about voters than it does about the participants.

  8. CSK says:

    @Jim Brown 32:
    Great post, but Trump is a cult leader with a whole cargo hold of baggage.

  9. Kit says:

    Political suicide or not… My God, have Republicans been lucky in their enemies! Of course they should just keep rolling the dice: they’re playing with the house’s money.

    This past month has been an eye opener. I knew that Republicans could not be swayed by arguments, but I had thought that reality would impose some sort of limit on them. Well, with a pandemic raging and the economy in melt down, I see that I was mistaken. But at least the political moment would focus minds amongst the self-proclaimed adults in the room, right? Right? Unfortunately, I failed to weigh the attraction of political suicide.

    Funny how just yesterday it was the Bernie Bros who were the great villains because they couldn’t suck it up and bow to reality. Looks like the death wish running deep through the Right has planted roots in the Left.

  10. gVOR08 says:

    Well done, thorough, fair. post. As you note, there are consequences to people other than the individual involved. Had Kavanaugh stepped aside, there was a long line of essentially identical Federalist Society Stepford judge candidates behind him. If Biden were to step aside it invalidates the Democratic nominating process and throws the election into chaos.

  11. Scott F. says:

    Perhaps I should have put scare quotes around “political suicide.”

    Because, I believe that if Reade turns out to be as credible as Ford (a big If based on what we know to date) and if Biden were to be as perjurious with his testimony (another big If), then Democrats could do better through a utterly chaotic convention to identify a strong candidate to face Trump.

    Trump is a dumpster fire. The Democrats can be messy in their process and still beat him. In the end, we will need a capable, strong President.

  12. drj says:

    If Biden sexually assaulted someone, he shouldn’t be the Democratic nominee.

    But let’s only go there if there is a credible accusation.

    Initially, I was willing to let the Reade accusation play out. But by now we know enough to be 99.9% certain that it is just a ratfucking operation.

    We have been talking for days about a report Reade supposedly filed; and only TODAY she tells us that her report (even IF it exists) doesn’t accuse Biden of sexual assault or harassment.

    Why then did she bring it up in the first place? Obviously, to suggest that there is “evidence” out there.

    And now that the notion that there is evidence of Biden’s misconduct out there, she makes sure that even if the “evidence” says nothing, she doesn’t have to retract her accusation. But plenty of stuff for the professional talking heads to blabber on about – and where is smoke, there is fire, amirite?

    And then – totally unrelated, of course – Biden supposedly commented on the breasts of a 14-yo at an event where he wasn’t even present.

    This has deliberate misinformation all over it.

    I’m done playing this game.

  13. Teo says:

    I am somewhat surprised to read a professor’s argument that Tara Reade presents a serious challenge for Biden. Start with the allegation itself: Joe Biden digitally penetrated Tara Reade in a Senate corridor, against her will, sometime in Spring of 1993. First, in like every state, that allegation is punishable by real prison time so, yes, it’s a serious allegation.

    Dissecting the allegation makes sense because every criminal allegation warrants close inspection. Reade provides no witnesses to the alleged crime but because this event took place in the 1990s and we had phones at the time, we should ask: Did Biden and Reade have a special relationship such that he would periodically call her or otherwise contact her? It does not appear that this is true, but I would investigate that.

    Now, looking at her allegation as described in the New York Times, “she had tracked down Mr. Biden to deliver an athletic bag when he pushed her against a cold wall, started kissing her neck and hair and propositioned her. He slid his hand up her cream-colored blouse, she said, and used his knee to part her bare legs before reaching under her skirt.” According to Reade, he then digitally penetrated her. First question: are the Senate hallways so lightly trafficked that a senator would feel comfortable taking this action? I have no idea, but this would surprise me, especially if it allegedly happened during work hours. Secondly, would a Congressional staffer wear a skirt without leggings or some leg covering in the spring of 1993? Again, I do not know but I suspect news outlets have numerous pictures of Congressional staffers in 1993.

    Then turning to the context of the allegation, Reade has additional challenges. For one, she told the Times she reported sexual harassment (not sexual assault) to three people in Biden’s office: Marianne Baker, Ted Kaufmann and Dennis Toner. None remember the report or believe such a report happened. She also claims she told the Senate personnel office about this misconduct. That office has not produced a complaint against Biden related to Reade. Again this is 1993 not 1963. We had color televisions then — cable, even — so that office likely had/has records from 1993 (and it did when the Obama team looked into Biden in 2008). Reade also said she filed a complaint with the DC police about this incident recently and, remarkably, but did not name Biden in the complaint.

    Finally, Reade herself has been inconsistent. It does not appear that she told anyone other than, perhaps, her brother and her mother, about the specific sexual assault in question in 1993. Her mom, apparently, told Larry King she wanted to keep this misconduct quiet “out of respect.” Really? A sexual assault allegation should remain quiet “out of respect”? It sounds like Mom maybe heard Tara Reade’s claim of sexual harassment, not sexual assault. Then with six other women, she publicly raised the issue of inappropriate touching/hair-smelling, last year. She claims she lost her nerve to raise the assault allegation at that time but I have a hard time understanding the logic here. The inappropriate touching has more merit than a full-blown sexual assault? And now that Biden has the nomination, we should believe her sexual assault claim? I do not understand it — particularly since several women staffers have discussed that they felt lucky to have worked for Biden in the 1990s.

    I agree that we should not allow partisan politics to color our view of whether a particular allegation of misconduct occurred. But as I see it Tara Reade’s allegation just does not add up. And Biden has fairly addressed the allegation by denying it.

  14. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @CSK: True, but much of his “baggage” involves crime, ripping people off, creating toxic environments, going out of his way to skirt rules…all in service to self. Its should be common sense to people that a leader with that sort of baggage and the sheer amount of it…would fall outside the cost benefit ratio for why he should lead any organization that has a duty to uphold the law and care for the disadvantaged.

    To say Trump has baggage would be to say drinking Clorox comes with indigestion.

  15. Daniel Hill says:

    Never let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    Here are the actual choices we face in November:

    Candidate #1: a key member of a mainstream, sane administration for 8 years, who may have committed a sexual assault (though the evidence is thin, the allegation doesn’t fit decades of behavior, and the complainant has some credibility issues based on her social media history)

    Candidate #2: has failed the ultimate test of keeping Americans safe, cares about nothing other than his own interests, is increasingly batshit crazy, and is an admitted sexual predator.

    I’m not having any trouble at all in making my choice.

  16. Michael Reynolds says:

    We are not electing the next saint. We’re electing the person we rely on to defend the country, and our Constitution. And as Democrats we want the person most likely to defend those least able to defend themselves.

    There is no way to establish the truth of the allegation, your honor, therefore the charge is dismissed. This is basic stuff, surely, one should require facts be actual, you know, facts. As in there is evidence sufficient to overcome reasonable doubt, or at least establish a preponderance of the evidence. You cannot just program yourself with whatever appeals to you, there has to be some threshold. And the very first sign that a presented fact is real is that it is consistent with established reality and is internally consistent. When you have a story that does not fit with what we know and is internally inconsistent, simple mental hygiene requires it be set aside.

    No one knows. No one’s going to know. What we do know is that of two choices, Biden is infinitely better. Let’s act on that.

  17. Gustopher says:


    Finally, Reade herself has been inconsistent. It does not appear that she told anyone other than, perhaps, her brother and her mother, about the specific sexual assault in question in 1993. Her mom, apparently, told Larry King she wanted to keep this misconduct quiet “out of respect.” Really? A sexual assault allegation should remain quiet “out of respect”?

    I would read “out of respect” to mean “out of fear of a powerful man who can exact retribution”.

    That said, nothing in the Larry King interview hints at sexual assault, and nothing else did for years. She may have been the victim of a sniffing or a handsy attempt at a reassuring touch that did not reassure — that would be entirely in keeping with everything we know about Biden. The rest of story is almost certainly inflated at the very least. Bullshit, we might say.

  18. Gustopher says:


    And then – totally unrelated, of course – Biden supposedly commented on the breasts of a 14-yo at an event where he wasn’t even present.

    I’ll wait until they find an event both Biden and the Christine O’Donell’s niece we’re both at to consider this claim even remotely relevant. The where and when could easily be mixed up.

    And I could totally see Biden saying “wow, you’re certainly growing into a fine young woman. You’re going to have to start beating off boys with a stick…”

    One problem with going through life making glad handing compliments that seem weird and creepy is that eventually someone will remember it as very creepy. What we know about Biden and his past behavior is enough to conclude that he likely made countless women uncomfortable and the culture wasn’t at a spot where he would receive any feedback until very recently.

    I would be very surprised if Biden was complimenting a 14 year old on her breasts. I would not be surprised at all to discover that Biden made a 14 year old girl incredibly uncomfortable.

  19. CSK says:

    @Jim Brown 32:
    I read your post as if you were offering a binary choice: cult leader or person with baggage, so I pointed out that with Trump, we got a double-header, i.e., a cult leader with baggage. And of course his baggage is criminal. Not that his demented followers see it that way.

  20. @Scott F.: @mattbernius: Thanks.


    but an investigation by whom to what end?

    By the media with the hope of uncovering as much truth as is possible (recognizing the limitations inherent therein).

    @Teo: I am not prepared to try and parse her entire claim at this point, to be honest. We are definitely in an era wherein accusations like this are, in fact, a threat.

  21. drj says:


    I’ll wait until they find an event both Biden and the Christine O’Donell’s niece we’re both at to consider this claim even remotely relevant. The where and when could easily be mixed up.

    Yes, let’s extend the benefit of the doubt to the niece of a GOP politician (who was wrong about the only verifiable detail she provided) in the midst of an orchestrated misinformation campaign.

    Look, Biden was a handsy creep. In an ideal world he wouldn’t be the Democratic nominee.

    But it should be equally obvious that accusations that: a) don’t fit the pattern; b) are made by someone who has close personal ties to a politician who belongs to a party known for its ratfuckery; c) are being made alongside an obvious misinformation campaign; and d) in the run-up to a consequential election should not be taken seriously without further supporting evidence.

    This is like the 101 of weighing evidence and/or conflicting claims.

    Initially, I was quite ready to believe O’Donell’s niece, but the Reade bullshit and the fact that she made up (“misremembered” if you want to be charitable) at least one important detail drastically changes the balance of probability IMNSHO.

  22. An Interested Party says:

    Political suicide or not… My God, have Republicans been lucky in their enemies! Of course they should just keep rolling the dice: they’re playing with the house’s money.

    Apart from whether these allegations are true or not, it is interesting how the Democrats always have to be the honorable ones, always have to be the ones who do the right thing…Republicans can and do all kinds of atrocious things and rarely, if ever, pay a consequence, but it is members of the other party who have to be the noble ones…even when, as we see, being noble gets you next to nothing in this political environment…as an example, the Merrick Garland case, of course…something totally outrageous, but when a possible solution for that is discussed (expanding the size of the court) it is written off as totally radical and to be avoided…

  23. 95 South says:
  24. An Interested Party says:

    @95 South: Thank you for helping me make my point…Republicans thought it appropriate for Clinton to be impeached for what he did but they gave a pass to Trump, who committed far worse transgressions…

  25. @95 South: So, what exact point are you trying to make. Don’t make the quote speak for itself.

  26. Mister Bluster says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: …what exact point are you trying to make.

    The learned @95 South has a stated purpose to help people who have gotten off-track in their thinking.
    This video is clearly an aid to that goal.

  27. Gustopher says:


    Look, Biden was a handsy creep. In an ideal world he wouldn’t be the Democratic nominee.

    You assert that, and yet believe that this one woman must be deliberately making things up just because she comes from a family with at least one certifiable right wing nutjob who is not a witch?

    Meanwhile, I’m not even willing to call Biden a creep. He was handsy-touchy-feely, and he was in a position of authority where no one told him that his actions struck some people as creepy.

    She may or may not be making it up. She may have a date wrong. She may have taken a too-familiar, paternalistic comment as something that it wasn’t. She was 14.

    I’m not willing to say that she’s part of a ratfucking attempt (whether or not the rats have human brains) when there’s no evidence of that, and there is a simpler and more innocent explanation. Glad-handing Joe Biden tells a 14 year old girl uncomfortable with her body because she’s going through puberty that she’s growing into a fine woman, a knockout… Biden means nothing by it, and the 14 year old girl thinks he’s commenting on her breasts.

    We’ve seen Biden talking to the kids of Senators as he swore them in. It was… awkward. Probably would have been considered charming 90 years ago when Biden was a young man, looks really uncomfortable now.

    And, this is going to keep coming up. If not this instance, than another, and another. Biden should just apologize to her — he has no memory of it, but he clearly said something that he meant as harmless jovial small talk which made her feel uncomfortable, and he’s sorry that he made her feel uncomfortable.

  28. Ken_L says:

    Reade’s story is inherently implausible. 15 year-old youths full of testosterone might think the way to score with a girl is to pin her against the school lockers and shove a hand up her dress. Men in late middle age generally understand that a little romance and foreplay is required. Reade hasn’t suggested Biden made any attempts to assault or seduce her before this alleged attack. What are we supposed to believe he intended to be the outcome – a quick screw in a closet? The whole alleged incident is hard to credit without any surrounding narrative, but Reade hasn’t supplied one.

    Therefore one has to look for indirect evidence which might make the story more or less probable. Overwhelmingly, it is in Biden’s favor, right down to the most recent developments of Reade admitting her alleged 1993 complaint didn’t even mention sexual harassment, let alone assault; Reade backing out of an interview on Fox because she “wasn’t ready to respond” to Biden’s forthright denial; and Christine O’Donnell’s niece making a lame (and apparently dishonest) effort to keep the story going.

    To my admittedly partisan mind there isn’t enough substance to this complaint to warrant any further investigation by the media at all. If Republicans want to make an issue of it, it’s up to them to produce some more evidence that persuades people it’s worth paying attention to. Otherwise the incident should be written off as a failed, obvious attempt to ‘do a Franken’ on Biden and throw the Democratic nomination process into disarray. For the record, I predicted after Democrats panicked in the Franken affair that exactly this kind of allegation would be made against the 2020 nominee no matter who it was. This will be the dirtiest campaign in living memory.

  29. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    By the media

    And Trump has poisoned that well.

  30. Raoul says:

    Because of her timing and her past postings worshipping Putin, I’m more willing to believe she is a Russian plant than her allegations.

  31. drj says:


    and yet believe that this one woman must be deliberately making things up

    This is obviously not what I wrote.

    I said that because of the particular context in which this claim was made, the balance of probability regarding the claim’s truth had changed dramatically. This doesn’t mean, of course, that it didn’t happen, but it DOES mean that we should be less generous in provisionally accepting the claim than we would otherwise be inclined.

    Assessing a claim’s likely veracity without taking into account the context in which it was made is a fool’s game. And that’s what you are particpating in right now:

    She may have a date wrong. She may have taken a too-familiar, paternalistic comment as something that it wasn’t

    All reasonable explanations under normal circumstances, but NOT the most likely explanation when there is also an organized misinformation campaign being waged by your aunt’s close and personal buddies against the target of your accusation.

  32. drj says:

    And then there is this:

    On Friday, O’Donnell also told Fox News she could confirm Murry’s story, and said she was there at the time.

    “I was right there when it happened. It wasn’t just … what he said, it was the way he eyed her up and down when he said it. It was beyond creepy and utterly inappropriate,” O’Donnell told Fox News. “She actually stopped coming to as many campaign events with me because just knowing he might be there made her feel uncomfortable.”

    Asked on Sunday about the organizer’s statement that Biden never attended that year, O’Donnell stood by the accusation, while acknowledging to Fox News that it could have been a different year.

    “Yes, it could have been another year. So what? She was a teenager when I ran for office. It doesn’t make it okay,” she wrote to Fox News. “It happened when I was running for office against him. If it was 2007, that makes it even worse.”

    Biden’s schedule from the day of the dinner in 2007, though, placed him in Iowa that evening.

    Yes, totally happened: memory clear as day (said by not one, but two people). Except for, possibly, the event and year (said by not one, but two people).

    Other year doesn’t work either? Oh, it still happened. Memory clear as day, remember?

    Theoretically possible? Sure. After all, memory is a funny thing.

    Likely? Based on what we know at this point in time, definitely not.

  33. KM says:


    I’m not willing to say that she’s part of a ratfucking attempt (whether or not the rats have human brains) when there’s no evidence of that, and there is a simpler and more innocent explanation.

    As a woman and who was a young girl who got borderline-inappropriate comments on her “developing” figure by older men once upon a time? Yes, I’m calling major BS for a simple reason. 14 is old enough to remember names and dates. I’ve got a great story of me around that age screaming at Cuomo the Elder when he and his entourage tried to walk through a Code Blue in progress – even got a pic of it my tiny candy-striper ass angrily blocking the doorframe! It was the opening on the main hospital building I was volunteering at. While I can’t tell you the specific date off-hand (but can certainly look it up), I knew when I met a VIP and had a significant interaction with them.

    Even though those kinds of rude comments may be common to younger women, *who* made them tends to stick if it’s a big shot. Unless this young lady was running into Biden left and right in 2008, she’s claiming the VP of the United States commented on her looks right at the start of his term. She *had* to have known who he was – even the most disinterested of teens couldn’t miss that it was the second most powerful person in the country, let alone a child of a political family. He wasn’t a random creepy old unknown man and teens are internet savvy – she would have had some vague inkling of who he was at the very least. Unless Biden was talking to her and commenting on her form every damn day, the possible number of interactions these two would have had is approaching zero.

    #BelieveAllWomen =/= #BelieveObviousBullshit. She’s and everyone who backed her got caught out in an blatant lie. Remember, her family and friends were all, “oh yeah this happened, she said so” and shut up when someone did some basic fact checking. Now, was she harassed by an older man at some point? Oh, most undoubtedly – maybe even at the very time and place she cited. But it was clearly *not* Biden and there’s proof. Is she “confusing” the VP with some random guy who harassed her? Likely and considering the facts of the “case”, it’s really hard to give her the benefit of the doubt the “confusion” isn’t deliberate.

    This and Reade just reek of ratfucking and not even good-quality at that. They didn’t even both to check if he attended the damn event! Again, #MeToo and #BelieveAllWomen means listening to whatever story they tell you with an open, non-judgmental mind….. then use that mind to evaluate if you’ve been lied to when things don’t make sense. If something is *clearly* contradictory, it’s not a betrayal of the cause to call BS on a story.

  34. dmichael says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I part company with you here. The NY Times had their editors propose a wide investigation into Biden’s Senate records, just the thing for their salivating reporters who did such a marvelous job with Hillary’s emails and for Republicans wanting something, anything to smear Biden with even if it has nothing to do with Tara Reade. Regardless, you may get your wish as the media drive for subscriptions and clicks is irrepressible.

  35. dmichael says:
  36. dmichael says:
  37. @KM:

    the VP of the United States

    Correction: he would not have been VP at the time (nor even Obama’s running mate, if memory serves).

  38. @dmichael:

    I part company with you here.

    In all seriousness: what is the alternative?

    Keeping in mind, to, that you can’t stop the press (which is more than the NYT) in investigating in any event.

  39. dmichael says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: The alternative is for you not to encourage the media to “investigate” broadly. Neither you nor I can prevent the media from doing what it wants other than not to subscribe to them. And don’t get me started on why I will never give money to NY Times or WaPo.

  40. James Joyner says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Correct. The incident allegedly occurred in March 2008—months before he got the nod as running mate.

  41. @dmichael: We will have to agree to disagree (although I do agree that the NYT helped HRC lose with the e-mails story and I do think the Reade story has some similarities, which I may write about, time permitting).

    Given all the imperfect options that exist, I do not think the one in which we encourage the media (a rather large, variate entity) to stick its head in the sand.

    And, BTW, I doubt my encouragement registers in any way whatsoever 😉

  42. Matt says:

    @95 South: Meanwhile Newt Gingrich who was leading the charge on impeaching Bill for lying about a blow job was busy cheating on his wife at the time. Gingrich went on to quit congress in 1998 amid allegations of ethics violations. Not really surprising as he cheated on and then divorced his first wife while she was in the hospital fighting cancer…

    Way to support An Interested Party’s point..

    @An Interested Party: Really it just comes down to the fact that the right wingers will grab on to anything to justify their hatred of demoncRATs. The mental pretzels they’ll twist themselves into to dismiss the +25 sexual assault allegations against their candidate Trump while trying to also claim that any allegation is a death knell when it comes to a Democratic candidate is painful to watch.

    Meanwhile left wingers tend to expect their side to be the “adults in the room”.

    These are generalizations of the base and shouldn’t be taken as some kind of blanket “factual” statement about everyone. Just the tendencies I see on social media and other platforms.