Noble: The problem with Tara Reade
The #MeToo hashtag, which surged in 2017 following sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein, spawned companion hashtags such as #BelieveSurvivors. These two hashtags are particularly notable because the first served to highlight how pervasive sexual assault is in America and the latter, how seldom it is reported.
Which brings me to Tara Reade’s allegations of sexual assault against Joe Biden.
Reade worked on Biden’s congressional staff in 1992-1993. She first made public allegations against Biden in 2019. She and several other women alleged that Biden had touched them in ways they found inappropriate or made them uncomfortable. None alleged Biden assaulted them, including Reade. Biden acknowledged the complaints, and pledged to avoid such behavior in the future.
Reade claims to have filed a complaint against Biden in 1993. She also claims to have told her mother, brother, and friends. Accounts by acquaintances differ, some saying she told them of an assault, others of harassment. Her mother is deceased, but Reade claims a video of a woman calling the Larry King Show is her mother. Her brother has confirmed Reade spoke of this, though his account has been inconsistent. However, Reade also claims to have told several Biden staffers at the time and none corroborate her claim, including Biden’s executive assistant Marianne Baker, who said, “I never once witnessed, or heard of, or received, any reports of inappropriate conduct (by Biden), period.”
Biden has been steadfast in his denial, telling Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC, “It never, never happened.” In addition to denying the accusation, Biden has urged the Secretary of the Senate to search the National Archive for Reade’s complaint.
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Republicans are accusing Democrats of hypocrisy for their continued support for Biden. Citing the Senate confirmation hearing of Brett Kavanaugh that was briefly side-tracked due to the accusations by Christine Blasey Ford that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her 36 years prior. Kathleen Parker, writing in the Washington Post, opined, “Not one shred of evidence nor corroboration was ever produced to support Ford’s claims against Kavanaugh.”
Parker likely knows, but did not acknowledge, that several people claimed to have information on Kavanaugh. However, Don McGahn, the White House counsel at the time and one of Kavanaugh’s key supporters, was involved in approving witnesses for the FBI investigation. Those people with information? They were never called back.
Why are Parker and Republicans using the Kavanaugh hearing for comparison? Perhaps because the accusation against Biden pales in comparison to the more than 20 women who have accused Trump of sexual assault. Or because a tape exists where Trump brags about assaulting women. For Republicans who claim that Democrats only believe accusations against Republicans, I have two words for you: Al Franken.
What Biden supporters insist is that listening to every woman does not mean believing every woman, and Tara Reade suffers from a believability problem. Over the years she has favorably tweeted about Biden on numerous occasions, her story has repeatedly changed, only becoming more serious after Biden’s big win on Super Tuesday, and she has select amnesia in a way that makes it impossible for Biden to refute her accusation by proving he was somewhere else when the alleged incident took place. She also has a history of financial difficulties including accusations she stole from a horse rescue. Stranger still, the description of her assault bears an uncanny resemblance to a scene in a novel by her late father.
Then, in a hagiographic essay on Medium, Reade enthused about her admiration for the Russian president: “President Putin has an alluring combination of strength with gentleness. His sensuous image projects his love for life, the embodiment of grace while facing adversity. It is evident that he loves his country, his people and his job.” Really, who does this?
The U.S. intelligence agencies and recently the Senate Intelligence Committee acknowledge that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to get Trump elected. Polling has consistently shown Biden to be Trump’s strongest contender in 2020. It was Trump’s fear of Biden that led to the Ukraine imbroglio and Trump’s eventual impeachment. Might Reade’s allegation be a Russian orchestrated attempt to take out Biden?
Reade might be a victim, a troubled woman, or a useful idiot. With so much uncertainty, I am not willing to accept her word that Joe Biden is a predator.