There are plenty of reasons to believe Tara Reade’s claim that Joe Biden sexually assaulted her—and just as many reasons not to believe what she claims.
Linda Hirshman author of “Recokoning: The Epic Battle Against Sexual Abuse and Harassment,” however, has no reservations. She completely believes Ms. Read and wrote about it yesterday in The New York Times:
Let’s be clear: I believe Tara Reade. I believed Anita Hill, too. Remember the buttons? I wore one. What’s the constant here? Joe Biden, then the bumbling head of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, now the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
. . .
So what’s a girl to do now? Discounting Ms. Reade’s accusation and, one after another, denigrating her corroborating witnesses, calling for endless new evidence, avowing that you “hear” her, is nonsense. We are now up to four corroborating witnesses — including one contemporary corroborating witness, unearthed by Rich McHugh, who was Ronan Farrow’s producer at NBC News during the Harvey Weinstein #MeToo reporting — and one “Larry King Live” tape.
So, as a prominent feminist who has written extensively on sexual abuse of women, Hirshman is now forced into the painful decision to withhold support from the likely Democratic nominee, right? Nope.
Here is how Hirshman resolves her dilemma:
I’ll take one for the team. I believe Ms. Reade, and I’ll vote for Mr. Biden this fall.
I won’t say it will be easy. I have been writing on and agitating for women’s equality since “The Feminine Mystique” came out in 1963. I know how supposedly “liberal” men abused the sexual revolution in every imaginable way. I am unimpressed by their lip service to feminism, their Harvard degrees or their donations to feminist causes.
In 1998, I was one of a few establishment feminists to argue on behalf of Monica Lewinsky, when the unofficial representative of the movement, Gloria Steinem, threw her under the bus in the pages of The New York Times to protect Bill Clinton. I maintained my position until, two decades and a #MeToo movement later, Ms. Steinem issued a non-apology for the essay. So I hate, hate, hate to say the following.
Suck it up and make the utilitarian bargain.
Meanwhile, Martin Tolchin, former New York Times reporter, founder of The Hill and an advisor to Politico in its formative stage, has written his old newspaper to object to an editorial. The Times editorial proposed that the DNC (!) investigate the Biden allegations. Tolchin has staked out an even bolder position than Ms. Hirshman. His delicious letter deserves to be quoted in full:
I totally disagree with this editorial. I don’t want an investigation. I want a coronation of Joe Biden. Would he make a great president? Unlikely. Would he make a good president? Good enough. Would he make a better president than the present occupant? Absolutely. I don’t want justice, whatever that may be. I want a win, the removal of Donald Trump from office, and Mr. Biden is our best chance.
Suppose an investigation reveals damaging information concerning his relationship with Tara Reade or something else, and Mr. Biden loses the nomination to Senator Bernie Sanders or someone else with a minimal chance of defeating Mr. Trump. Should we really risk the possibility?
In fairness, I think you legitimately can hold your nose and make this kind of bargain if you believe a candidate with personal failings is the better choice for the job.
What you can’t do is to claim with a straight face that the Kavanaugh hearing was in any way, shape or form about believing the woman. The whole point was to damage Brett Kavanaugh.
“Believe the woman” was not only legally dubious but it was cynical. Nobody on the left cared about the women, and whether they were telling the truth didn’t enter into it. At least Tolchin and Hirshman are honest, if also rather unappealingly cynical.
If Tara Reade put any stock in the “believe the woman” slogan, she knows the truth now. And the final slap in her face is that neither writer seems to think very highly of Joe Biden.
(And, as Mollie Hemingway points out, Tolchin was simply saying out loud what a lot of his peers in the media business think silently.)