That brings us back to “believe all women.” You are never, ever going to get liberals, progressives, and Democrats to admit that the standard they espouse is bad and dangerous until they are compelled to live under it themselves (or at least to explain openly why they believe they should be exempt from them, as Linda Hirshman did in her clarifying recent New York Times op-ed, “I Believe Tara Reade. I’m Voting for Joe Biden Anyway”). As I have noted before, that was one of the lessons of the two-decade-long battle over the Independent Counsel statute: Only when it came back to bite one of their own did Democrats admit that the statute was bad and dangerous.
And therein lies the value of the Tara Reade allegations: They are an enormously valuable teaching moment on the need to both hear out accusers respectfully and subject their claims to the same informed skepticism that we apply to any other accusation in law or politics. That is a principle we will still be fighting about after Biden and Trump are gone from the national scene. Without sustained pressure on Democrats and their media and cultural allies to face up to the contradictions in their standards, we may not succeed in getting them to admit that yes, conservatives are right on the principle. Conservatives should not have to keep that pressure up alone — and to their credit, a determined group of left-wingers has also been consistent on the need to hear Reade out — but this is a public argument of great importance to whether we will continue to be a classically liberal, rule-of-law-based society.