He really must be serious about 2020. Nothing gets progressives as excited as taking a public dump on due process in a sex-crime dispute.
Then again, Biden has much to atone for in their eyes.
From the administration that brought you the Star Chamber model for assessing guilt and innocence in allegations of campus sex crimes:
“Oh, I thought [Anita Hill] was telling the truth at the beginning,” Biden said. “I really did.”
Speaking generally, Biden added, “For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus, nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real, whether or not she forgets facts, whether or not it’s been made worse or better over time. But nobody fails to understand that this is like jumping into a cauldron.”…
Then one question got him to cut off the impromptu gaggle. Asked whether it mattered that Ford’s claims of assault by Kavanaugh occurred when the judge was 17 and in high school, Biden demurred.
He’s taking two fair points and letting them lead him to a bananas conclusion. The first is that women alleging sexual assault should be taken far more seriously than they traditionally have been. We’re almost a full year removed now from the NYT’s famous Weinstein expose and and still the aftershocks keep coming: It was less than 10 days ago that the most powerful man in TV finally departed CBS after a series of accusations of sexual harassment. Guys like Moonves and Weinstein operated with impunity for decades, apparently preying on scores of women. A culture where that’s possible is a culture that needs more than a bit of fine-tuning in how it treats accusers.
The second is what he says about the “cauldron” effect for a woman who accuses a prominent man of sexual misconduct, particularly if he’s prominent in politics and has millions of voters invested in him. Christine Blasey Ford’s claim that she feared being dragged through the mud if she spoke up about the alleged incident with Kavanaugh is perfectly reasonable. She will be dragged through the mud. I’d bet cash money that she’s been getting death threats since Sunday. It’s possible that she’s such a hardcore liberal that she’d volunteer for that treatment in the name of keeping Kavanaugh off the Court by fabricating an allegation of attempted rape. (Democrats would be willing to entertain that possibility, however sotto voce, if a right-wing woman accused a Democratic nominee.) But it’s a high price to pay and an accuser would know upfront that she’d have to pay it. How many women would pay it for a story that isn’t true?
The bananas conclusion is that, taking both of those factors into account, the burden of proof when a prominent man is accused of a sex crime is on him, not his accuser. Not every false accusation is a premeditated lie. Ford might be honestly mistaken about what happened due to faulty memory, just as Kavanaugh might be guilty but honestly mistaken about the incident due to his drunkenness at the time. It’s sound to believe that the burden of proof should shift in the court of public opinion (although not in a court of law) when there are multiple accusers and multiple points of contemporaneous corroboration. But how can it shift on a bare allegation by a single person, who admittedly can’t remember some basic details, when literally every other witness to the accused’s character speaks glowingly of him? Why should we lend more weight to one person’s memory than another’s?
This is what I meant earlier in saying that the Kavanaugh matter is less about finding the truth than exacting “rough justice.” Realistically there’s no way to get to the truth. Ford will say he did it, Kavanaugh will deny it. There’ll be no hard evidence either way. Then what? Even if you could place Kavanaugh and Ford together at a party in 1982, how could you find probable cause to believe he attempted to rape her when a third person who was supposedly physically present in the room, Mark Judge, says he never saw Kavanaugh behave that way? The hearing on Monday isn’t a “fact-finding” process, it’s a wrestling match over who deserves the benefit of the doubt in a “he said, she said” case in an era of dueling presumptions. Do we try to atone for ages of giving short shrift to bona fide sex-crime victims by presuming Ford’s memory is more accurate than Kavanaugh’s, “rough justice” for #MeToo? Or do we stand firm on the presumption of innocence by insisting that a single bare accusation, even if sincere, isn’t enough to ruin someone’s reputation? Because that’s what this is about. It’s not just a Supreme Court seat. People who know Kavanaugh will never look at him the same way, even if he’s completely innocent.
Biden wants rough justice. So do other Democrats and Democrat-friendlies:
Hirono on Ford:
The White House is victimizing this person. She has no obligation to appear at a smearing..I want to say to the men of this country, shut up and just step up and do the right thing
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) September 18, 2018
Walking a VERY dangerous line here….. https://t.co/GTKVb1Q7XU
— Chris Cillizza (@ChrisCillizza) September 18, 2018
The idea that Ford shouldn’t be challenged or shouldn’t even need to testify for her version of events to be believed is about as strong as the “rough justice” impulse gets. But then, if you’re resolved to give her the benefit of the doubt no matter what, why would you need to hear from her? The matter is already concluded.
Here’s more “rough justice” from Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who had a good question put to him by John McCormack: What would it take at the hearing to convince you of Kavanaugh’s guilt? The hard answer for lefties is that there’s almost nothing that might come up by way of solid evidence, and Blumenthal knows it. So he can’t demand that. His choice is either to say forthrightly that he believes Ford because left-wing politics compel him to in this case or to hedge. He chose to hedge:
TWS: So there’s no way to prove [one’s] innocence here?
Blumenthal: We need to do the full fact-finding, and I’m not speculating on what the standard should be. But we need to know the facts.
TWS: So you don’t know how an innocent person could prove his innocence in this situation? I mean, if it was yourself and a 35-year-old accusation from one person, how would you prove your innocence here?
Blumenthal: The investigation has to talk to the witnesses who were there at the time, has to include all records and other evidence. That’s the way cases are done. That’s the way cases are proven.
Maybe Blumenthal’s struggling with this like everyone else and isn’t yet at the point where he can articulate a good-faith standard? Or maybe not: Get a load of his latest talking point below. The problem for Ford and her perceived credibility is that her allies in the Senate are garbage cutthroat partisans, every bit as much as the worst Republicans are if not more so. They’re happy to see Kavanaugh burn, whatever it means for the presumption of innocence.