As Democrats grapple with how to handle the accusation by former staff member Tara Reade that Joe Biden sexually assaulted her in a hallway in the Senate office building in 1993, let’s remember that as much as we want it to be about finding out the truth, it’s never just that. And let’s remember that not every purported rape victim is telling the truth and that every victim doesn’t have to act like you think she should act.
1. It’s possible that Reade supported Bernie Sanders and wrote lovingly about Vladimir Putin and still was raped by Biden. The opposite is also possible.
2. It’s possible that Joe Biden could have introduced the Violence Against Women Act and been an advocate for women’s issues and still have raped Reade. The opposite is also possible.
3. If it’s hypocritical to say that you don’t believe Reade but you believe Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, then it’s hypocritical to say you don’t believe Blasey Ford but you believe Reade. Hypocrisy doesn’t just go one way.
4. But it’s really weird to ask Biden if he’s being a hypocrite about “believing women” when it comes to Reade, as Mika Brzezinki did repeatedly on Morning Joe. Biden presumably knows the truth. It’s madness to ask him to say, “I know it didn’t happen, but I believe her.”
5. As many women have said, “believe women” doesn’t mean “all women are always right.” It means assume that an allegation is made in good faith and investigate from there. And, yes, sometimes women lie about rape, assault, and harassment (and often men lie about being the perpetrators). But the vast majority of women aren’t lying. And a much larger number of victims simply never come forward.
6. The real hypocrisy is to demand Joe Biden release the archive of his Senate and Vice Presidential papers now held at the University of Delaware and not demand an equal accounting from Donald Trump for all of the sexual assault and rape allegations against him, as well as everything else (like his income taxes).
7. Biden should allow the archives to be searched and Trump should have to give up all the documents related to his business and personal dealings, as well as allow members of his administration to testify before Congress. You want transparency? Let’s do it, then.
8. However, no search of Biden’s papers is going to satisfy the “But her emails” crowd. They will believe until the end of days that the Rosetta Stone of Reade’s accusations exists and anyone telling them otherwise is lying.
9. It will take months to go through Biden’s papers even in a cursory way. That’s the way archival research works.
10. Some people demanding more information are acting out of a genuine desire to find the truth. But too many only want to drag this out and drag Biden down. Those people exist on the left and the right.
11. We probably are never going to know the truth, so all we’ll have is belief.
12. I don’t know what I believe about Reade. I kind of think she’s lying, but I’m not 100% convinced. Sorry. I wish I could clearly come down on one side or the other.
13. Biden saying unequivocally that the assault did not happen was strong. It essentially puts all his credibility on the line should it turn out that hard evidence exists that it happened.
14. I wish someone else were the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, for many reasons. But that’s not gonna happen.
15. And I’ve heard nothing so far that makes me believe that it would be better to have Donald Trump win a second term. Nothing has dissuaded me from voting for Biden. That doesn’t make me an anti-progressive, anti-feminist neoliberal tool of the Democratic establishment. It means I’m so scared about what might happen when Trump is no longer accountable to voters that I’m gonna swallow a whole lot to stop that from occurring.
(Note: I’ll probably update this list as more of this is tossed around in my brain.)
Editor’s Note: This essay originally appeared on May 2, 2020 on The Rude Pundit, a website featuring commentary by Lee Papa. It was reproduced here with the consent of Mr. Papa.