Trump vs. Biden: Who’s More Awful?

For a few days there, Democrats were feeling good about themselves and the upcoming election – deceptively so as it turns out. Trump had been his usual rambunctious self at his daily coronavirus briefings, taunting the press, quarreling with his own medical advisers, pushing for states to go back to work and then declaring that maybe they shouldn’t because it was too early.

But then, on Thursday, Apr. 24, he offered some advice on how to treat Covid-19 in what will no doubt go down as the most famous words of his presidency:

“So supposing we hit the body with a tremendous – whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light, … and then I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way, and I think you said you’re going to test that too. It sounds interesting. Right. And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that….”

And so on. Comedians pounced. (Two of the best were Sarah Cooper and Kylie Scott.) Pundits declared that he had finally gone too far. Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi made a big show of endorsing Joe Biden, who, in a new poll, led by 44 to 38 percent.

Happy days were here again. Except that they weren’t thanks to a looming iceberg named Tara Reade.

Reade, of course, is the former Senate staffer who in 1993 was sent to deliver a gym bag to then-Senator Biden on Capitol Hill. As she told podcaster Katie Halper in late March: “And then we were alone, and it was the strangest thing…. He just had me up against the wall, and the wall was cold, and I remember he – it happened all at once … and then his hands were on me and underneath my clothes. And, um, yeah, and then he went, um, he went down my skirt and up inside it, and he, uh, penetrated me with his fingers.” When she protested, Reade recalled, her voice shaking with emotion:

“He just like pointed at me, and he said, ‘You’re nothing to me.’ And he just looked at me and goes, ‘You’re nothing. Nothing.’”

Digital penetration is rape, which is to say forcible sexual violation. A detailed New York Times news analysis cast down on Reade’s story by noting that corroboration was lacking other than by a friend who said Reade told her about the incident at the time, another friend who said she told her about a traumatic sexual encounter sometime later, and her brother who said the same. But the article quoted reams of staffers saying the opposite. “I did not know her,” Ted Kaufman, a top Biden aide whom Reade said she complained to, told the Times. “She did not come to me. If she had, I would have remembered her.” Dennis Toner, another top aide whom Reade said she notified, said the same:

“It’s just so preposterous that Senator Biden would be faced with these allegations. I don’t remember her. I don’t remember this conversation. And I would remember this conversation.”

So the tale seemed destined for that great graveyard where intriguing but unsubstantiated news stories go to die. But then corroboration began turning up in spades. Without prompting from Reade, Lynda LaCasse, her neighbor in Morro Bay, California, came forward to say she told her about the incident just two or three years later. “This happened, and I know it did because I remember talking about it,” she told Business Insider.

“I remember her saying, here was this person that she was working for and she idolized him,” LaCasse went on. “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, who worked with Reade in the California state senate in the mid-’90s, said she recalls Reade complaining that her former boss in Washington had sexually harassed her. After Reade told Ryan Grim of The Intercept that her mother had telephoned the “Larry King Live” TV show on CNN at the time to ask where her daughter could go for help, a reader succeeded in tracking the episode down. Sure enough, it featured an anonymous caller from San Luis Obispo, California, her mother’s home town.

“Yes, hello,” the caller says, “I’m wondering what a staffer would do besides go to the press in Washington? 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.”

Reade confirms that the voice was that of her mother. And while the caller said nothing about a sexual assault, it’s evidence nonetheless that Reade didn’t make the story up out of whole cloth years after the fact. Although feminists will no doubt protest, it’s in fact far more than what Christine Blasey Ford had to offer. Not only could Ford not remember key details about the incident, which occurred when both were in their teens, but the only corroboration she offered were notes her therapist took while she recounted the tale in 2012, a full thirty years later. A friend who Blasey said was present says she can remember no such get-together and now doubts that the incident ever occurred.

So while Ford’s story fairly cried out for skepticism, Biden described testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time as “courageous, credible, and powerful” and said that “the country believed her.” But now Tara Reade’s own story is holding up much better under scrutiny, his response is to stonewall and send out aides to say it’s untrue.

He’s not going to get away with it. Democrats have elevated the #MeToo movement and the importance of believing women to a doctrine on par with transubstantiation in the High Middle Ages. Consequently, they can’t argue now in favor of believing Ford while disbelieving Reade without looking like fools. They can’t call for Kavanaugh’s impeachment, as Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren did in 2019, while calling for Biden’s election in 2020 even though what he did, if true, was far worse.

It’s a gift to Trump that he’ll use to devastating effect. Not only will go after Biden for allowing his son to take a job with a Ukrainian oligarch at a time when he was supposedly cleaning up Ukrainian corruption, or go after Democrats in general for trying to drive him out of office on a phony charge of Russian collusion. Now he’ll go after them for nominating a hair-sniffing, child-molesting rapist after raising hell about his own penchant for locker-room banter.

Yes, Trump is an idiot. But not only is Biden’s idiocy well established, but his boat is sinking now that Tara Reade has opened up a huge gash in the hull.

Strategic Culture

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