Sullivan: According to his own standards, Biden’s guilty

Many of you have read about Tara Reade’s claim that Joe Biden assaulted her 27 years ago. Although her story has varied over time, her most serious claims do allege true sexual assault—digital penetration, which the Department of Justice considers rape. As far as I know about the evidence, it’s not sufficient to convict Biden in a court of law—evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt.” But Andrew Sullivan’s point in the first part of his latest column (the other two parts are about the pandemic death toll and a new documentary about Phylis Schlafly) is that according to Biden’s own standards as promulgated in Obama’s Title IX regulations, he’s guilty as hell, or would be found so in a college “trial.”

Click on the screenshot to read the article:

This is a little bit misleading, as Sullivan sees “Biden’s own standards”, as noted above, as those he promulgated in the revision of Title IX, not the standards of American courts. But before we get to that, remember that the Title IX regulations revised by the Obama administration—Sullivan thinks Biden pushed them hard as a form of penitence for his behavior during the Clarence Thomas hearings—weakened the standard of guilt for sexual misconduct in colleges to a “preponderance of evidence” (i.e., more than 50% probability of guilt) instead of the court standards of “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” or “clear and convincing evidence” (> 75% probability of guilt). This means that colleges could expel you and ruin your life using standards far more lax than the courts.

There were other bizarre stipulations of the Obama procedure that reduced protection for the accused. These included the prohibition of the accused getting to face and have the accuser cross-examined, the tendency to make the finder of fact (the investigator) the same person who judged the case, the prohibition of legal representation for the accused in hearings, and so on. Jeannie Suk Gerson, a professor at Harvard Law School, summarized the unfair Obama stipulations in a 2019 New Yorker article, adding how, under Trump, Betsy DeVos changed them for the better. (I think this is one of the few good things to come out of the Trump Administration.)  One of the legacies of the Obama-era regulations is that those found “guilty” in college Star Chambers have often sued the colleges, and have won at least half the time, costing universities large amounts of dosh. And there will be more such suits.

So are Biden’s own standards those that he pushed under Obama, or those of American courts? If the former, he’s surely guilty, if the latter, surely not. But Biden made one comment suggesting that courts themselves should adhere to Title IX standards. Sullivan remarks:

[Biden] brushed aside most legal defenses against sexual harassment. In a speech at the University of Pittsburgh in 2016, for example, Biden righteously claimed that it was an outrage that any woman claiming sexual assault should have to answer questions like “Were you drinking?” or “What did you say?” “These are questions that angered me then and anger me now.” He went on: “No one, particularly a court of law, has a right to ask any of those questions.”

That implies that his Title IX standards should be used in court as well. That would be a disaster for the American judicial system, changing all the standards of evidence and even its standard of guilt.

At any rate, Sullivan goes hard after Biden for this claimed hypocrisy:

On Friday’s Morning JoeBiden laid out a simple process for judging him: Listen respectfully to Tara Reade, and then check for facts that prove or disprove her specific claim. The objective truth, Biden argued, is what matters. I agree with him. But this was emphatically not the standard Biden favored when judging men in college. If Biden were a student, under Biden rules, Reade could file a claim of assault, and Biden would have no right to know the specifics, the evidence provided, who was charging him, who was a witness, and no right to question the accuser. Apply the Biden standard for Biden, have woke college administrators decide the issue in private, and he’s toast.

Under Biden, Title IX actually became a force for sex discrimination — as long as it was against men. Emily Yoffe has done extraordinary work exposing the injustices of the Obama-Biden sexual-harassment regime on campus, which have mercifully been pared back since. But she has also highlighted Biden’s own zeal in the cause.

Do read the Yoffe pieces!

Sullivan doesn’t let up (and remember that he, like me, is going to vote for Biden):

In 2014, the Obama administration issued another guidance for colleges which expanded what “sexual violence” could include, citing “a range of behaviors that are unwanted by the recipient and include remarks about physical appearance; persistent sexual advances that are undesired by the recipient; unwanted touching; and unwanted oral, anal, or vaginal penetration or attempted penetration.” By that standard, ignoring the Reade allegation entirely, Joe Biden has been practicing “sexual violence” for decades: constantly touching women without their prior consent, ruffling and smelling their hair, making comments about their attractiveness, coming up from behind to touch their back or neck. You can see him do it on tape, on countless occasions. He did not stop in 2014, to abide by the standards he was all too willing to impose on college kids. A vice-president could do these things with impunity; a college sophomore could have his life ruined for an inept remark.

. . .By Biden’s own standards, he’s guilty as charged. He never got affirmative consent from Reade, and she feels and believes he assaulted her. He never got affirmative consent for countless handsy moves over the decades that unsettled some of the recipients of such affection. End of story. By Biden’s own logic, it is irrelevant that he didn’t mean to harm or discomfit anyone, that Reade’s story may have changed over time, that she might have mixed motives, that she has a record of erratic behavior, a bizarre love for Vladimir Putin, and a stated preference for Bernie Sanders, who was Biden’s chief rival. It’s irrelevant that she appeared to tweet that she would wait to launch her accusations against Biden until the timing was right. And her cause has been championed by the Bernie brigade. The many red flags and question marks in her case are largely irrelevant under Biden’s own campus standards.

It seems to me that Biden has a simple choice here. He can either renounce his previous astonishingly broad and illiberal view of “sexual violence” and argue for more nuance and due process so that a case like Reade versus Biden isn’t a slam dunk in advance; or he should follow his own rules and withdraw from the presidential race. He will, of course, do neither.

I’ll vote for him anyway, because Trump.

Because. . . . Trump’s record of sexual misconduct is far more damning than Biden’s. But that’s a hell of a way to vote: choosing the lesser of two predators. In the end, though, I’m not convinced that Biden is guilty of assaulting Reade. The allegations are unsettling, but they’re old, not very substantiated, and I’d rather not ruin the country by voting for a predatory Republican narcissist over a “handsy” Democrat.

Sullivan is right to point out the double standard that Biden is using now versus what he pushed on American colleges. But I think he’s being too hard on Biden by saying that voting for Biden means he, Sullivan, would “be voting for a hypocrite who wants to ruin others’ young lives for what he has routinely and with impunity done.” That all depends on whether you think that the American courts should adhere to Biden’s own Title IX standards. I happen to think the reverse—that American colleges and universities should adhere to the American courts’ standards. And under those standards, you must consider Biden as innocent until proven guilty. You don’t have to vote for him, of course, but that would be a vote for someone far worse.

UPDATE: Reader Barry pointed me to an article in USA Today by a former Federal prosecutor, detailing why he thinks Reade’s claim against Biden is very, very weak.

h/t: Simon

 

82 Comments

  1. A C Harper
    Posted May 1, 2020 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    There are some conspiracy sites which wonder if Biden is just a place man for the Democratic Presidential Candidate and that closer to the election Biden will step down leaving Hillary Clinton to step forward.

    Yes, conspiracy sites. But they also wonder if Biden will receive the same ‘prejudgement’ as that directed at Bret Kavanaugh. It’s a good question.

    • Historian
      Posted May 1, 2020 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      “There are some conspiracy sites which wonder if Biden is just a place man for the Democratic Presidential Candidate and that closer to the election Biden will step down leaving Hillary Clinton to step forward.”

      This means YOU wonder. And the answer to your wonderment is NO. No matter what may happen to Biden, the last person the Democrats would pick as a replacement is Hillary Clinton. Biden’s stepping aside would create chaos in the Democratic Party, but Hillary will not emerge from the ashes.

      • Posted May 1, 2020 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

        If Biden is turfed, the pressure will be on Michelle Obama to step forward, although I doubt she will. We may end up with Sanders after all.

        • Historian
          Posted May 1, 2020 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

          Michelle Obama would unite the Democratic Party as no other person could (except for some disaffected Bernie Bros)as well as attract the votes of many moderates outside the Party. It would be a pity if she she should turn down the nomination.

          • EdwardM
            Posted May 1, 2020 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

            If the opportunity arises, for her sake I hope she turns it down; for ours, I hope she doesn’t.

          • Posted May 1, 2020 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

            It would be wonderful to have the Obamas in the White House again after our four year nightmare.

        • Curtis
          Posted May 1, 2020 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

          Choosing another ex-first lady to be the nominee for president would be a horrible precedent – if you want to be a president marry wisely. There are many qualified candidate who have earned consideration – Klobuchar and Inslee would my first two choices but there dozens of good ones and thousands better than Michelle.

    • Posted May 3, 2020 at 6:27 am | Permalink

      It’s obviously rubbish though isn’t it.

      If Biden steps down, the Democratic nomination process will be reignited and one of the candidates who has suspended their campaign will replace him.

  2. Posted May 1, 2020 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    “… it was an outrage that any woman claiming sexual assault should have to answer questions like … “What did you say?” “These are questions that angered me then and anger me now.” He went on: “No one, particularly a court of law, has a right to ask any of those questions.””

    Err what? Given that many sexual cases come down to consent, how can it possibly be unreasonable to ask what the two parties said to each other?

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted May 1, 2020 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    I would bet that Biden would have a hard time explaining what his purpose and definition of sexual assault or rape on campus was in Title IX. We do know that the statute of limitation would be long passed for his assault on the person in question – 1993. If we were going to throw out Biden for past mistakes why not include his performance in the Anita Hill mess. Biden is a relic when it comes to his performance with women or people in general. He is simply too hands on for most people.

    Is Biden anything close to the Cheeto – no. We will vote 10 times for Biden if possible at election time.

  4. Posted May 1, 2020 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    What’s the point of having such a bloated, overblown, over-extended, multi-year nomination process if this kind of thing is only *now* being taken seriously?

    Five years or more to find some effective way of opposing the most stupid and useless president ever, and the Democrats have flubbed it.

  5. Ken Pidcock
    Posted May 1, 2020 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    I found Sullivan’s article difficult to read, though helped by his extraordinary talent for writing, because I’m afraid that I’m among those who have been dismissive of due process with respect to allegations of sexual assault in higher education. I’m particularly ashamed to realize that the first time I read the Ezra Kline passage he cites,I probably thought, “Yeah, exactly.”

  6. Jon Gallant
    Posted May 1, 2020 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    The Title IX rules have been a scandal since the Obama-Biden administration put them in place, at the behest of “Progressives” in the Education establishment. Title IX-ism is exactly consistent with the new plague of loyalty oath simulacra in academic hiring, in the form of “Diversity Statements”.

    These matters remind us of how anti-liberal “Progressives” can be when it suits them.
    But of course, we have known that since 1944, when Henry A. Wallace was conducted by the nose through a Gulag labor camp in Magadan, and reported effusively that it reminded him of the Tennessee Valley Authority. [Later on, Wallace had the good grace to apologize for some of his earlier follies. We are still awaiting apologies from the partisans of Title IX rules and Diversity loyalty oaths.]

  7. Posted May 1, 2020 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    In this brief segment from an interview, Biden says when accuser comes forward, “what should happen is the woman should be given the benefit of the doubt and not be abused again by the system.” (source).

    If the voters adhere to Joe Bidens request, and voters give his accuser “the benefit of the doubt” then they have the luxury to choose between two accused rapists, according to Joe Biden.

    I don’t know what he did, but I saw cited where Reade has made her accusation already at the time, but they just went nowhere. Others have asserted her case is weak. I don’t know and leave it at that.

    This issue blows up in the face of Democrats, no matter how you look at it, that much is certain. The problem is, much outrage was generated over accusations against Trump and his “pussygrab” boasting and so on. It looked like this is a matter of principle, not degree. I would interpret me2 and timesup as clearly about principles.

    In consequence, those who launched this against Trump and kept at it for weeks, as many did, cannot simply dismiss this against Biden and say “but Trump did much worse” even if it’s perfectly true. Whole blue checkmark armies instructed to “believe the victim” (the victim, not the accuser!). This is a nightmare for a certain fairly vocal faction of the blue fanbase. And it should make everyone else at least uncomfortable.

  8. Posted May 1, 2020 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like a case of being hoisted with one’s own petard. What a mess. It is amusing to see how certain Democrats, who were so ready to convict Kavanaugh on similar unsubstantiated allegations, are squirming to dismiss the allegations against Biden. (Not than I have any liking of Kavanaugh.) I fear that the dynamics of this debacle will soon bring out other women who suddenly have recovered memories being fingered by Biden.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 1, 2020 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      It is a double standard of the left and if someone is going to go down that route they should at least admit that they are willing to dismiss the allegations against Biden purely to vote Trump out and that basically they had their price. If I were an American, I’d vote for Biden with my eyes fully open and my nose pinched closed and I’d openly admit that I was doing so at the expense of justice (potentially).

      • sugould
        Posted May 1, 2020 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

        Biden is probably a little sleazy, but Trump is indeed The Best: at sexual harassment, NDA’s, porn stars and payoffs. Biden can’t hold a candle to that record.

        It’s not like we get to pick someone else, or make someone else run. So it’s not a problem for me at all.

        • max blancke
          Posted May 1, 2020 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

          I have written here at some length about Biden’s history of enriching himself and his family through his government authority. I really just covered some of the high points.

          But beyond that. If we just focus on his alleged predatory sexual issues, my point is this:
          Even when Biden knows he is both being filmed and is also the center of attention for a live audience, he seems to be unable to keep from touching women and girls, sniffing their hair and caressing them in ways that clearly make some of them uncomfortable.
          Does anyone really believe that his behavior in private is likely to be more restrained? How about when he is in private and dealing with women who are his subordinates?
          How about after he has had a few drinks?

          I would think it highly unusual if Biden were a person who exercises more self control in private than he does in public.

          If we are comparing Biden and Trump’s behavior, it bears mentioning that most of all of Trump’s alleged excesses occurred while he was a private citizen, while Biden’s occurred while he was holding public office.

          I personally do not want to have to vote for either of them.

          • Posted May 1, 2020 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

            This seems like a classic example of false equivalence. You are attempting to make Biden’s well known penchant for being huggy and touchy equivalent to Trump’s self-professed pussy grabbing, payoffs to porn stars, visits to beauty contestant dressing rooms, etc. These aren’t “alleged excesses”. They are documented and on tape.

            Your assumption that what Biden does in private is likely much worse than what he does in public is also unsustainable. The fact that the hugging occurs in public is an indication that it is innocent. It really says nothing about his behavior in private. One can assume he is just as huggy in private but anything beyond that is pure speculation with no evidence.

          • Posted May 1, 2020 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

            If this line of reasoning is the right line of reasoning, then there must be numerous women who have been assaulted by Biden. There is no sign of that, at least not yet.

            • rickflick
              Posted May 1, 2020 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

              Nor have there been anyone who would hold his personality in line with violence. He’s just the wrong kind of guy, otherwise there would be plenty of talk around Washington about Biden the bad boy. Women who warn you to keep away from him. It’s a small town. Word gets around. In this case there’s no “word” to get around.

              • Posted May 1, 2020 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

                Yeah, Biden reminds me of the creepy uncle, with too much hands and hair sniffing. He doesn’t seem like a pussy grabber.

              • max blancke
                Posted May 2, 2020 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

                from Counterpunch- 31 August 2011-“On more than one occasion CounterPunch’s editors have listened to vivid accounts by the recipient of just such advances, this staffer of another senator being accosted by Biden in the well of the senate in the week immediately following his first wife’s fatal car accident.”

              • rickflick
                Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

                Counterpunch? There are dozens of journalist for significan news outlets who cover Washington every day of the year. Maybe none of them have ever heard of Counterpunch. So, let Counterpunch testify.

            • Posted May 1, 2020 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

              There are others, but they are touchy feely stuff. But, of course, Reade’s initial allegations were touchy feely stuff.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      “Similar unsubstantiated allegations”?
      Ms Blasey Ford’s allegations remained basically the same, Ms Reade’s changed completely in their essence.
      Ms Blasey Ford was a credible accuser, Ms Reade is not.
      Did you read the link to Mr Stern in USA today that our host linked to?

  9. Anonymous
    Posted May 1, 2020 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    > “preponderance of evidence” (i.e., more than 50% probability of guilt)
    > “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” or “clear and convincing evidence” (> 75% probability of guilt)

    How on Earth do you calculate these probabilities? Aren’t these just random numbers you just guess?

    • Posted May 3, 2020 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

      Great point, checking back a few days late to see if anyone made it. To me beyond reasonable doubt means something quite different. It means it definitely happened. It doesn’t really have a numerical equivalent but if it did it would be 100%, or greater than 99.9999%. More than 75% is a horrible, sick joke (at best).

  10. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 1, 2020 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    From Sullivan:

    If I were asked to detail an incident that happened a quarter-century ago, absent serious trauma, I’d be completely stumped.

    The trauma of an event makes it much more likely that the event itself will be remembered. But it furnishes no guarantee regarding the accuracy of one’s recall of the event. Indeed, as memory experts such as Elizabeth Loftus have explained, the trauma associated with an event often renders one’s recollection of the event’s details less reliable.

    This is a major reason why (pace naive expectations) eye-witness testimony is often unreliable (especially, for example, when it comes to a victim’s identification of a suspect with whom the victim was otherwise unacquainted). That such testimony seems so reliable, yet isn’t, is a leading cause of wrongful criminal conviction.

  11. Greg Geisler
    Posted May 1, 2020 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    This is the best piece I have read so far regarding the allegations. From someone who was a federal prosecutor for 25 years.
    https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/04/29/joe-biden-sexual-assault-allegation-tara-reade-column/3046962001/

    Based on this I suggest that the MSM is giving this story way too much press. But what’s new.

    • Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      Especially the denials, by people she supposedly told at the time of the incident, cast severe doubt on her testimony. There is not a preponderance of evidence against Biden. So, “by his own standards,” Biden is not guilty. As usual, Andrew Sullivan can’t reason his way out of a paper bag.

  12. rickflick
    Posted May 1, 2020 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    I find the former Federal prosecutor’s analysis very persuasive. I don’t think he did it. Reade is not very credible.

    • Posted May 2, 2020 at 5:18 am | Permalink

      I assume you’re referring to the USA Today article, and I totally agree. Everyone should read it.

  13. Curtis
    Posted May 1, 2020 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    I hate the fact that this kind of sexual abuse was common 30 years ago. I hate that it was winked at by society at the time. I hate that uncorroborated 30-year-old allegations are taken seriously.

    I love the fact Biden is being accused in this manner. Guilty of this or not, he promoted this type attack against Kavanaugh and students. He has been hoisted on his own petard. I don’t know whether his petard is sexual assault or railroading innocent people and I don’t really care.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted May 1, 2020 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      “Guilty of this or not, he promoted this type attack against Kavanaugh and students. He has been hoisted on his own petard.”

      There would be some similarity with the Kavanuagh case if:

      a. there were multiple accusers
      b. at least one was an extremely credible witness(with none of the caveats that apply with Tara Reade)
      c. Biden was subsequently handed his dream job anyway, in spite of the credible accusations
      d. Biden subsequently became a martyr for the people on his side of the political aisle because he was ‘put through an ordeal’.

      Which is to say…it’s not really particularly similar at all. Unlike with the Democrats, there wasn’t the tiniest amount of hand-wringing by Republicans during the Kavanaugh hearing – he was comfortably sworn in, and they now hold him up as some kind of hero for ‘Steve-Holt!’-style pissheads everywhere. If that’s the kind of treatment Biden can expect from his own side, then he’ll be overjoyed.

      The truth is that no Trump voter/apologist can ever talk credibly about morality again. They forfeited that right. To be attacked on moral grounds by a group of people who happily voted in a man with 25 separate sexual accusations against him is like being attacked by those foam batons that therapists use so their clients can express their anger safely. It looks like it should hurt…but it just doesn’t.
      The Republicans can try and make as much hay out of this as they want, it just seems to be landing with all the weight of a feather. This is the price you pay for jumping on the Trump train: you have all the moral authority of a whelk.

      • Posted May 1, 2020 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

        Everything you say is true! Republicans can never use the sexual predator card against Democrats b/c they voted for and defended Trump. Only
        They will. They will use that card when it suits them. Straight-faced and without a hint of insincerity.

        • Posted May 1, 2020 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

          Indeed. And the tRump cult and others will buy it. By the time the Republicans are done, Biden will be worse than tRump.

  14. Historian
    Posted May 1, 2020 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    I would like to comment on Sullivan’s piece on Phyllis Schlafly. I get that he likes her and doesn’t think highly of the early feminists who pushed for the ERA. But, this sentence is absurd: “I’ve even found myself rooting for Schlafly as the underdog in an epic battle to stymie the utopian overreach of the Equal Rights Amendment.”

    This is what the ERA says:

    “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

    Just what is so utopian about this? Would Sullivan be so bent out of shape is there were an amendment that ended with “on account of sexual preference?”

    • Roger
      Posted May 1, 2020 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      I never read the blabbermouth so I wouldn’t know. Thanks for reading it so I don’t have to. His written debate with Sam Harris was plenty enough for me.

  15. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 1, 2020 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    An allegation by a victim of sexual assault should always be taken as sufficient evidence to open a full-fledged investigation. The determination whether the allegation has been sustained must be made based on the totality of the evidence.

    There can be a reasonable dispute as to the standard of proof for sustaining such an allegation in a civil adjudication (or in the court of public opinion) — in a criminal tribunal, OTOH, the standard must always be “by proof beyond a reasonable doubt” — but as to the general principle set out in the paragraph above, there should be no dispute.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted May 1, 2020 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      But in this circumstance, what is the statute of limitation? Claiming a sexual assault 27 years later seems a stretch. But as I have always maintained, investigation should be accomplished by professionals, not some college administrators or teachers. Even Elizabeth Warren knew what to do when she had a sexual harassment situation in her campaign. She hired professionals and it was handled and completed in no time. Most people did not even hear about it.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted May 1, 2020 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

        The statute of limitations for criminal charges (or for a claim for civil damages for the tort of sexual battery) has run five or ten times over.

        OTOH, there is no statute of limitations in the court of public opinion when it comes to one’s reputation, especially when one is seeking the highest office in the land.

        Unless there is some strong corroborating evidence (which seems unlikely) or old Uncle Joe really screws the pooch on this, I don’t see it having a major impact on Biden’s chances, much less knocking him out of the race.

        But, hey, let justice be done, though the heavens may fall, is the way I look at sexual assault allegations.

        • EdwardM
          Posted May 1, 2020 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

          If only justice was blind.

  16. Richard Sanderson🤴
    Posted May 1, 2020 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    A number of regressives, SJWs, New Racists, and “believe all women” types, don’t believe Tara Reade.

    Among them are several Pharyngula regulars, and Kristi Winters, who is never shy to lecture atheists, liberals, Humanists, ex-Muslims, etc. about morality.

    These creepy types can jog on.

  17. Posted May 1, 2020 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    “In 2014, the Obama administration issued another guidance for colleges which expanded what “sexual violence” could include, citing “a range of behaviors that are unwanted by the recipient and include remarks about physical appearance; persistent sexual advances that are undesired by the recipient; unwanted touching; and unwanted oral, anal, or vaginal penetration or attempted penetration.”

    When I was in school 25 years ago, surrounded by attractive female coeds, I adopted a carpe diem attitude instead of sitting on the sidelines, and just started asking girls out. I was clumsy at first and had a pretty low batting average, but I eventually learned how to approach girls and learned to quickly discern signals of non-interest (which was often, but hey you move on).

    According to these standards, a lot of what I did would be considered sexual violence now.

    To wit:

    – On several occasions I asked out the same girl more than once (but never more than 2X). That could be considered “persistent sexual advances.”

    – I once complemented a girl on her athletic appearance (I asked her what sport she played) and she took it the wrong way. I learned later that she had the perception that she was too big and thought I was deliberately calling attention to that, while in reality I thought she was quite fit and attractive and that I was flattering her. That could be considered “remarks about physical appearance”.

    – Once after a party when I thought things were going well with a girl (we had been talking and laughing all night), I put my arm around her shoulder. She brushed it off and was annoyed. Lesson learned, I misread her signals. After that I was careful not to initiate physical contact unless I had clear signals to do so. That could be considered “unwanted touching.”

    Now, I never tried to even kiss a girl unless it was abundantly clear that’s what she wanted, and never came within the same galaxy as “unwanted penetration”. Also, on the clear advice of my father, I never hooked up with any girls who were inebriated.

    I came out of school with a better knowledge and appreciation of women and a thicker skin. Some of these girls that I had casual relationships with gave me some great insight about the female perspective in general and what it’s like to be approached cold by a strange boy. I found that it was much better to join clubs/activities and get to know girls that way.

    I could clearly see now why some women would adopt a “cold” posture to advances from men, and I didn’t hold it against them when this happened during my wild 20s.

    However, if my 18 year old self was entering school now, I doubt under these conditions that I would risk asking girls out or even flirt with them, as such things it seems could easily land me in the dock.

    But I would have missed 4 solid years of “adult education”.

    • Filippo
      Posted May 1, 2020 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      ” . . . I put my arm around her shoulder. She brushed it off and was annoyed. Lesson learned, I misread her signals. After that I was careful not to initiate physical contact unless I had clear signals to do so.”

      I contemplate what constitutes a “clear” signal.

      What if a given beguiling female had put her arm around your shoulder. Would you be somewhat hard-pressed to find a good reason to be annoyed by that?

      A young lady once put her arms around me, unsolicited by me. I didn’t resist and was hard-pressed to find a reason to do so. (The thought never occurred to me.) A few weeks or so later, I presumed to do that, and she took offense. I found that very irksome, and from that point on was resolved to let the female make the first move.

      • Posted May 11, 2020 at 11:03 am | Permalink

        “What if a given beguiling female had put her arm around your shoulder. Would you be somewhat hard-pressed to find a good reason to be annoyed by that?”

        Probably yes, but there is a double standard here that 4th wave feminism has done nothing to penetrate. Even if I was annoyed and accused her of sexual harassment, I doubt that anyone would take me seriously.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 1, 2020 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      I think there’s a “rule of reason” that should apply here:

      ~ If you go in for a kiss and get your face slapped — well that’s a mistake, and a fella ought to try to back out with his dignity in tact, by apologizing and maybe saying something charming enough to make her smile. If you try it again, that’s harassment.

      ~ If you ask a woman out and she gives a plausible excuse not to, there’s no problem with taking a second chance. If she tells you she’s gotta wash her hair, you should take a clue and stop. If she says, “Not if we were the last two people on earth and the propagation of the human species depended upon it,” but you ask again anyway — that’s harassment.

      • Posted May 1, 2020 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

        So is she saying there’s a chance?

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted May 1, 2020 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

          Okay, made me laugh with that one. 🙂

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted May 1, 2020 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

        Guys, when it comes to sexual harassment, you don’t get there by simply making passes at a girl you know. 99 percent of it involves a position of power. Are you her boss? Are you her supervisor. Are you her teacher. If you will think of sexual harassment in this way you will start to get it. I have the feeling that most of the people here just don’t get it.

        • Posted May 11, 2020 at 10:59 am | Permalink

          In higher education though among students? Most of these young men being accused of sexual harassment are not in power positions…if anything the greater sexual power of the young woman puts her in the driver seat.

  18. J Cook
    Posted May 1, 2020 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Why after all this time did she choose to bring this up now? Does she want tRump reelected? This could have been settled 28 years ago or 12 years ago. Why now?

    • Deodand
      Posted May 1, 2020 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      Of course she does, America must be ‘punished’ for the crime of not making the ‘revealed savior’ (e.g. Bernie Sanders) president.

      • Harrison
        Posted May 1, 2020 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

        It’s weird. There were over a dozen contenders for the Democratic candidacy but somehow Dem voters have forgotten all but two of them. Every suggestion that there’s still time to replace Biden with a cleaner candidate is met with an instant retort about Bernie Sanders.

    • A C Harper
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 3:11 am | Permalink

      Allegedly she made a formal complaint at the time but it went nowhere. Her mother complained on TV that her daughter’s case against a ‘prominent senator’ had gone nowhere.

      Others have come forward recently to confirm how Tara Reade was upset and why. And now, allegedly, the University of Delaware and Joe Biden are resisting searches of archived paper work, even if limited to just Tara Reade and her complaint.

      Rather more corroboration than was available for Bret Kavanaugh.

      Why now? She couldn’t progress her complaint way back then, but now with Joe Biden being a Presidential candidate the past behaviour is fresh news (or not).

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:50 am | Permalink

        “Allegedly she made a formal complaint at the time but it went nowhere.”

        Allegedly. Coming from a woman who has, in the past few years taken up a cudgel against Biden and started cheerleading for both Bernie Sanders and Vladimir Putin. A woman who, up until the aforementioned Russophile conversion, has spent much of the last decade on social media talking in glowing terms about Biden, defending him, and singling him out for the work he has done specifically in helping victims of sexual violence. That’s just bizarre. Add to that the number of times her story has changed in interviews and you have someone with a credibility deficit(unlike Kavanuagh’s accuser Blasey Ford, whose personal credentials were close to impeccable).

        “Her mother complained on TV that her daughter’s case against a ‘prominent senator’ had gone nowhere.”

        No, an anonymous woman who Reade claims is her mother complained on TV about mistreatment by a prominent senator. Strangely she didn’t mention sexual impropriety at any point.

        “Others have come forward recently to confirm how Tara Reade was upset and why.”

        Two close friends of hers have been contacted and have given disjointed accounts of what she said, between two and three years after the event was claimed to have taken place.

        Reade, conveniently for her argument, cannot remember the time or the place where the assault took place, therefore there’s no way for Biden to rule it out by looking in his diary.

        “Rather more corroboration than was available for Bret Kavanaugh.”

        Uh no. There were multiple accusers in Kavanuagh’s case, and he was accused of multiple sexual improprieties. All of the accusers, even the least credible, were more credible than Reade. Blasey-Ford in particular was extremely credible.

        Besides, if there are similarities with Kavanaugh’s case then Biden will be overjoyed. Kavanuagh was swiftly sworn into his dream job despite the question marks hanging over his character and was lionised by conservatives for the ‘terrible treatment’ to which he was apparently subjected.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      Yep, even before the USA Today piece, my reply was “Where was she 11yrs ago?” She could more easily have derailed his chances as Obama’s pick. Tom Eagleton wasn’t accused of sexual impropriety, but still he didn’t last long.

      Also, all the female contenders who have dropped out have endorsed Joe. If they campaign for him, that ought to go a long way to further de-fuse all of this.

  19. Posted May 1, 2020 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    I found the USA Today article by Michael J. Stern pretty compelling which is linked to at the end of this post. In the interest of balance, I would like to read any direct rebuttals from respectable sources. Here’s the link again:

    Why I’m skeptical about Reade’s sexual assault claim against Biden: Ex-prosecutor
    https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/04/29/joe-biden-sexual-assault-allegation-tara-reade-column/3046962001/

    • Posted May 1, 2020 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

      Her claim is indeed weak. But were Ford’s claims much better against Kavanagh?

      The issue is that the left seemed willing to overlook a lot of murkiness and inconsistency in the case of Ford, because them’s just details and women don’t lie, but are properly questioning the veracity of Reade, because I guess sometimes women do lie.

      The reason for the inconsistency is clearly political, and is fooling no one.

      Also, it should be pointed out that Joe Biden has a history of lying publicly, about everything from his record to his educational credentials. So we are being asked by the Dems to believe the claims of a proven liar over the claims of someone who, as far as I know, doesn’t not have such a flexible view of the truth.

      • Posted May 1, 2020 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

        I think Ford’s claims against Kavanaugh were much better but still a long way from proof. As Sullivan says, there is a good reason for statutes of limitation.

        We can take solace in the fact that the particular nature of this Biden issue makes it tough for Trump to weaponize. He can barely make mention of it and must rely mostly on what his minions can make out of it which, I suspect, is not much. Of course, all Biden has to do is botch his response to Reade’s accusations, something he’s very capable of, for Trump to benefit.

        • Posted May 1, 2020 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

          It may seem strange, but Trump may well use this accusation against Biden. He can certainly make the case that Biden is not much better than he is. I know the math is ridiculously unbalanced, but Trump and his supporters simply don’t care about that.

  20. Posted May 1, 2020 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    At least, this accusation should help raise the poll numbers for Biden among fundamental Christians. They seem to like this kind of stuff about their current idol. I know, Biden has quite a ways to go, but it’s a start!

  21. Jim Swetnam
    Posted May 1, 2020 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    All I have to say is that we’re screwed. Biden was a weak candidate to begin with, nearly as bad as Clinton, now he’s even weaker. He’s going to lose it for us.

    Frickkin’ Democrats!

    • Harrison
      Posted May 1, 2020 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

      This was known though. Biden entered the field as 2020’s Hillary except older, less intelligent, a worse public speaker, with a less devoted core following, and most importantly uniquely vulnerable in every manner that one would wish to be able to contrast with Trump.

      If Biden tries to go after Trump on corruption and nepotism they just drag out his son’s cushy job in Ukraine. If he tries to attack Trump’s appalling history of sexual harassment of women, they roll video Biden getting handsy with women and young girls.

      But nevertheless I agree with Dems when they repeatedly insist that no, no, no, they’re not gonna sub Biden out for anyone, even though they’ve got a dozen other candidates to pick from with cleaner records. They shouldn’t. This is the guy they wanted and they deserve him.

      And I still think Biden can win, but I also think it’s now possible for him to lose. As we near November I anticipate a gradual tightening in the polls and for the final result to be a nail-biter.

      • Posted May 1, 2020 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

        What you say here makes sense though it makes me sad to think Dems can’t find the right messages to explode such false equivalences. To equate Biden’s son’s job as comparable to all the corruption Trump has been involved in his whole life is just ridiculous. As you say, though, people will do it. I hope Biden gets some good advice on how to counter this kind of attack. As I’ve said on several occasions, he should hire someone like Al Franken to craft some good comeback lines for each of these false equivalences that are undoubtedly going to be used against him.

      • Mike Anderson
        Posted May 3, 2020 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

        If Biden tries to go after Trump on corruption and nepotism they just drag out his son’s cushy job in Ukraine.

        But Hunter Biden’s cushy job was neither corrupt nor nepotism.

  22. Irwin H Moss
    Posted May 1, 2020 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    And that is the bottom line:

    “I’ll vote for him[Biden]**anyway, because Trump.”
    imo, issues and content are essentially off the table. Do you vote? Who do you vote for?

    from one of the posted letters.

    **added

  23. Matt
    Posted May 1, 2020 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    Let’s stipulate Biden did what he’s accused of. Is that enough to make me vote for Trump? Not even close.

    Number of accusers: Trump 20+ vs. Biden 1

    If my only two choices are both p&ssy grabbers then they cancel each other out and I’m voting for the one with the better policies.

    Biden 2020

    • A C Harper
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 3:18 am | Permalink

      But if you were a diffident Trump supporter who might vote for Biden then the accusations about Biden’s past behaviour, unless handled transparently, could re-affirm support for Trump.

      • Matt
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:37 am | Permalink

        How do you figure? If past behavior was the deciding factor they would not have voted for Trump last time.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:55 am | Permalink

        That seems fantastically unlikely. It’s more likely to make them sympathetic to Biden, as another ‘victim of the MeToo hysteria’. No one who voted for Trump is going to be put off Biden by something like this.

        • Harrison
          Posted May 2, 2020 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

          Except from the point of view of conservatives Biden was feeding the beast that bit him.

  24. Posted May 2, 2020 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    It is utterly ridiculous to say that to NOT vote for Biden is a vote for Trump. That’s the same as to say to NOT vote for Trump is to vote for Biden. Both these statements are true. So, if a person decides not to vote AT ALL … like many of us are planning to do … since both men are jerks … just at different levels on the jerk-pole … our non-voting for either man is cancelling each other out.

    • Posted May 2, 2020 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      Trump is a jerk to the entire country, and the world for that matter. Biden is a jerk to … who exactly? Trump is such a demonstrably, objectively bad leader that not voting for whoever opposes him is a vote for fascism, racism, authoritarianism, kleptocracy, corruption, and pure evil.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      Especially in a two party ‘winner takes all’ system, not voting -or voting for a third party- is voting for the eventual winner.

      • alexander
        Posted May 2, 2020 at 11:31 am | Permalink

        I agree: a two party system is not a democracy but a one-party system, like China, far away from a democracy. It suffers from what I call a football mentality: you support your club, whether rational or not. The results are Trump and Brexit in the UK. Finland has about 40 parties, and a dozen in government.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted May 2, 2020 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      Except the last election showed that republicans and the demographic that tends to make them up ALWAYS vote. So when Democrats done vote it means the winner will usually be Republican.

  25. Mike Anderson
    Posted May 3, 2020 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Tara Reade has changed her story so many times her credibility is in the toilet. At this point the issue is, for the most part, in Biden’s rear view mirror.

    The Trump campaign will keep beating it, but the horse is dead.

    • Posted May 3, 2020 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      The latest bit of “evidence” I’ve read is that Tara Reade has admitted that her complain about Biden to Congress many years ago (the one no one can locate) did not accuse him of sexual assault. This lends further credence to the idea that she added that bit recently.

      • Mike Anderson
        Posted May 3, 2020 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

        Yes, she called for Biden to release the pertinent records, and when Biden agreed, she disclosed that her complaint wasn’t about sexual harassment or assault. Then she cancelled her interview with Fox News that was scheduled for today.

        Remember, Biden was vetted thoroughly before being selected as Obama’s running mate in 2008.

  26. Posted May 4, 2020 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    I think that this #metoo movement is getting a lot of otherwise good men in trouble, like Al Franken, who simply resigned.
    In order to not be accused of some type of sexual misconduct, you would have to come into the office or workplace shackled and have opaque glasses.

    I personally do not think Biden did much of anything, and, yes, he has to pull in his horns about Title IX.

    Certainly nothing like the Rapist in Chief has simply admitted to doing. I mean, boinking a p0rn star when your wife was preggers and paying her off with campaign money>


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