April 28, 2020 by Common Dreams
“Republicans already basically dismiss sexual assault allegations against their co-partisans out of hand; if Democrats do the same for the leader of their party it will do a great deal to move us back to the pre-#MeToo past.”
Then-Vice President Joe Biden listens to former President Barack Obama during a meeting in the Situation Room of the White House, Feb. 2, 2015. (Photo: Obama White House Flickr)
Former Vice President Joe Biden is facing a growing demand to address the credible sexual assault allegation made by former Senate staffer Tara Reade as the Democratic Party itself faces accusations of hypocrisy in terms of the #MeToo movement.
“We have reached a point where it is journalistic malpractice for anyone interviewing Biden to refuse to ask him about Tara Reade’s allegations, the mounting supporting evidence in her case and the numerous other allegations of his misconduct toward women,” author and The Intercept co-founder Jeremy Scahill tweeted on Tuesday.
The increased pressure on Biden and his party comes as new reporting this week and last further corroborated Reade’s account of the alleged 1993 attack, which Reade first detailed in full on journalist Katie Halper’s podcast last month.
While Biden’s presidential campaign has said the accusations are false, the deeper scrutiny into the case has made the silence of the candidate himself and many of his supporters all the more problematic for those in Democratic Party circles who in recent years have championed the #MeToo movement, which has as one of its central tenets the responsibility to take seriously such accusations by women against powerful men.
“This happened, and I know it did because I remember talking about it,” Lynda LaCasse told Business Insider of the alleged attack.
LaCasse was Reade’s neighbor in the mid 1990s and told the Insider that Reade shared details of the event in question with her in 1995 or ’96.
“I remember her saying, here was this person that she was working for and she idolized him,” LaCasse told the outlet. “And he kind of put her up against a wall. And he put his hand up her skirt and he put his fingers inside her. She felt like she was assaulted, and she really didn’t feel there was anything she could do.”
Lorraine Sanchez, a former legislative staffer in Sen. Jack O’Connell’s office, also backed up Reade’s accusation.
“[Reade said] she had been sexually harassed by her former boss while she was in DC,” Sanchez told Insider, “and as a result of her voicing her concerns to her supervisors, she was let go, fired.”
Audio that resurfaced last week also backs up Reade’s claim. As Ryan Grim reported at The Intercept, Reade’s mother called in to “Larry King Live” on August 11, 1993 to talk about how her daughter had suffered at the hands of a powerful boss and had no recourse other than the press.
“My daughter has just left there, after working for a prominent senator, and could not get through with her problems at all, and the only thing she could have done was go to the press, and she chose not to do it out of respect for him,” said the anonymous woman, whom Reade confirmed to Grim was her mother.
With Biden now the presumptive nominee, the accusations have exposed a major obstacle for Democrats eager to defeat President Donald Trump—himself accused by dozens of women of sexual harassment and assault.
Writing for The Cut, journalist Rebecca Traister said the entire situation is a “grievous mess,” one that has put Democratic women and other feminists in a nearly impossible position.
Now that he is the presumptive choice, [Biden] may in fact be the only presidential bulwark against Donald Trump, who is both murderous and incompetent and whose reelection would lead to further cataclysmic collapse of our environment, health-care system, courts, and democracy, with fatal results that will redound more negatively to women than to men and most negatively of all to women with the fewest resources. In the fight to prevent this, Biden and his campaign will be calling on women — especially the women who have challenged him in the past, including on feminist grounds—to help him build support by rallying other women around him. That rallying will now have to entail somehow papering over the disgust and dismay provoked by multiple allegations of inappropriate touching and alleged assault made against yet another would-be president.
Traister specifically tackles the issue of what the accusations will mean for Biden’s pick for vice president—who he said will be a woman—but others said the implications go beyond that for the Democratic presumptive nominee:
Sarah Jones, writing for the Intelligencer on Monday, noted that as “corroborative evidence for Reade’s account begins to mount, Democratic voters find themselves in an unpalatable situation” just as the general election begins in earnest.
“Topping the ticket of one party is Donald Trump, who has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by over two dozen women,” explained Jones. “On the other side is Biden, whose handling of the Anita Hill hearing and previous support for the Hyde Amendment, which bans the use of public funds for abortion, already made him a difficult candidate for some women to support.”
In his Monday column for The Week, Ryan Cooper argued that the whole debacle has exposed serious hypocrisy among Democratic supporters who championed #MeToo, many of them now ignoring or explaining away allegations against their candidate after raising uproar when it was Trump or Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh facing similar charges.
“Now Democrats are set to blow a hole in the movement with their probable nomination of former Vice President Joe Biden for president,” wrote Cooper.
The progress gained by the feminist movement will “be grossly undermined if Democrats choose to look past Biden’s allegations for political reasons,” Cooper argued. “Republicans already basically dismiss sexual assault allegations against their co-partisans out of hand; if Democrats do the same for the leader of their party it will do a great deal to move us back to the pre-#MeToo past, when far too many people looked the other way at abuses committed by powerful politicians. One cannot create a broad political norm against sexual misconduct if the issue becomes a partisan football for both parties.”
At 3:00 pm ET on Tuesday, Biden is hosting a virtual town hall on the subject of Covid-19’s specific impact on women.
Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.