Yesterday’s appearance on CNN’s State of the Union showed that Gretchen Whitmer needs both a better Internet connection and a better argument. When asked by Jake Tapper to explain why “believe all women” applied to Christine Blasey Ford but not Tara Reade despite much more contemporaneous corroboration for the latter, Whitmer accused Tapper of targeting her for the question as a survivor — rather than as a potential Joe Biden running mate. With pixilation making Whitmer as opaque as her standards, the Michigan governor told Tapper that “not every claim is equal,” and that she is “very comfortable that Joe Biden is who he says he is.”
It’s quite a display of chutzpah in defense of a double standard:
TAPPER: I want to turn now to former Vice President Joe Biden, who denied on Friday an allegation made by a former Senate staffer of his, Tara Reade, who says that he sexually assaulted her in the early ’90s. You have said that you believe Vice President Biden. I want to compare that to 2018, when you said you believed Dr. Christine Blasey Ford after she accused now Justice Brett Kavanaugh of assault. Kavanaugh also, like Biden, categorically denied that accusation. And Blasey Ford, to be honest, she did not have the contemporaneous accounts of her view of what happened that Tara Reade does.
You have spoken movingly about how you’re a survivor — survivor of assault yourself. Why do you believe Biden, and not Kavanaugh? Are they not both entitled to the same presumption of innocence, regardless of their political views?
WHITMER: You know, Jake, as a survivor and as a feminist, I will say this. We need to give people an opportunity to tell their story. But then we have a duty to vet it. And just because you’re a survivor doesn’t mean that every claim is equal. It means we give them the ability to make their case, and the other side as well, and then to make a judgment that is informed. I have read a lot about this current allegation. I know Joe Biden, and I have watched his defense. And there’s not a pattern that goes into this. And I think that, for these reasons, I’m very comfortable that Joe Biden is who he says he is. He’s — and you know what? And that’s all I’m going to say about it. I really resent the fact that, every time a case comes up, all of us survivors have to weigh in. It is reopening wounds. And it is — take us at our word, ask us for our opinion, and let’s move on.
TAPPER: Well, just for the record, the reason I’m asking you is because you’re the only Democrat on the show today, not because you’re a survivor, and not because you’re a woman. But thank you so much for your time. I want to…
WHITMER: Yes. No, and it’s not a criticism of you, Jake. It’s not a criticism of you. You’re doing your job, and I appreciate that. I’m just sharing, I think, some of the simmering anger that we survivors have every time that we have got to confront this from someone else’s behavior that we weren’t a party to, that we weren’t even a part of the reality in the moment. What I think is this. We owe it to every woman who has a story to listen to that story, and then to vet that story, ask the questions and be critical thinkers, and then make a judgment, based on all of those pieces. I have done that in this instance. And I will tell you this. I don’t believe that it’s consistent with the Joe Biden that I know. And I do believe Joe, and I support Joe Biden.
Tapper’s being a bit too kind here, especially in regard to Whitmer’s attempt to smear him by accusing him of exploiting her status as a sexual assault survivor. Not only was Whitmer the only Democrat on his show to ask, she’s also an obvious shortlist candidate as Biden’s VP choice. Whitmer’s appearance on SOTU is at least partly motivated to get national exposure in that regard, as was her earlier jousting with Donald Trump. Any potential running mate will have to deal with this question at some point or another, because Reade’s allegations are clearly not going to go away now.
Furthermore, survivors such as Whitmer had no problem citing their own experiences when it came to blasting Kavanaugh in late 2018. They referenced their authentic and traumatic experiences to establish their bona fides in the campaign to “Believe All Women,” as well as in some cases to shut down other voices who pushed back at the time by arguing that every claim is not equal, just as Whitmer belatedly argued yesterday. At that time, their argument was that “due process” was a patriarchal notion designed to silence women and to deny their survivorship.
This is hardly the only example of this hypocrisy. It’s getting so bad that the Washington Post reports today that Democrats are engaging in a “reexamination of ‘Believe Women'”:
Joe Biden, discussing sexual assault claims in early 2018, told PBS flatly, “Women should be believed.” On Friday, facing his own accusations, he stressed on MSNBC the importance of “taking the woman’s claims seriously when she steps forward — and then vet it, look into it.”
That shift in Biden’s tone reflects the way a former staffer’s claim that he assaulted her 27 years ago is raising new questions for the #MeToo movement. Democrats and women’s activists, eager to unseat a president they consider deeply misogynistic, are facing tough decisions over whether to stick by Biden or distance themselves — and whether to redefine what emerged as a stark rallying cry after centuries of injustice: “Believe women.” …
Some longtime women’s rights activists warn that downplaying former staffer Tara Reade’s claims could undermine the movement’s credibility by suggesting it only targets men whose policies it dislikes.
“I think that this could potentially signal the end of MeToo,” said Michele Dauber, a Stanford University law professor who heads the Enough is Enough Voter Project and has called for an investigation. “The failure to investigate, and the failure to live by our principles, will become silencing.”
It was “Believe All Women,” and there was no nuance at all to it when it came to Kavanaugh. That was true even when two other claims against the Supreme Court justice fell apart under even mild scrutiny. Now it’s slowly morphing into “Believe All Bidens,” and is becoming even more transparently a political bludgeon against Republicans. It’s another political-hatchet-job strategy used by the Left to protect access to abortion, to be abandoned immediately upon any other application — nothing more and nothing less.
This is precisely why due process matters. It strips politics from the equation and forces proper scrutiny on all claims. If Whitmer wanted to defend due process as the highest value in a society based on a rule of law, that would be marvelous. It’s clear, however, that Whitmer is only arguing for an exemption on “Believe All Women” for Biden and by extension all other Democrats on the basis of her personal feelings and political ambitions. That’s as cynical an argument as we’re likely to hear on any Sunday talk show.