When you’ve lost Liz Bruenig it might be time to reconsider your approach. With that in mind, the Democrats might want to take a moment to consider the liberal columnist’s latest entry at the New York Times. She breaks down the albatross of hypocrisy hanging around the party’s neck as many of them continue to insist that there’s nothing to see in the Tara Reade story. She does an admirable job of laying out both the elements of Reade’s story that cast doubt on her tale as well as the factors that suggest her accusation is “not nearly as incredible as some have argued.”
Bruenig goes on from there to point out that the Democrats have invested themselves far too heavily in the #MeToo movement to simply turn around and abandon an accuser when it’s politically inconvenient to support her. She further argues that if progressives lower the bar for strict scrutiny of Joe Biden, they lower it for everyone else who is accused in the future. With that in mind, the author suggests that it’s time for a “Plan B” that doesn’t include Uncle Joe.
I have my own impressions regarding Ms. Reade’s allegations, but no one — save Ms. Reade and Mr. Biden — knows with certainty whether her claims are true. What I can assert with firm conviction is that Democrats ought to start considering a backup plan for 2020…
Sexual assault is a crime unlike any other, and its hideous uniqueness is often manifest in the ways its victims cope. Cavalier dismissal of Ms. Reade’s story therefore runs the risk of advancing misconceptions about sexual assault and its aftermath.
This is collateral damage that Democrats — who have spent the last few years championing the #MeToo movement — should be loath to incur. Democrats who subject Ms. Reade’s allegations to a level of scrutiny not widely applied to accusers in similar circumstances — such as Christine Blasey-Ford, who famously came forward during the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court to allege that he had sexually accosted her in high school — also open up past and future cases to reproachful disregard.
This is actually one of the better bits of analysis of the Tara Reade saga I’ve seen coming out of the left. But there’s one glaring problem with it. Bruenig used several different descriptions to declare that Democrats should be “formulating an alternative strategy for 2020.” But at no point does she so much as suggest how that would be accomplished.
The advantages for the Democrats in swapping in a different candidate should be obvious. While many, like DNC Chair Tom Perez, seem to be immune to embarrassment and can blithely ignore charges of hypocrisy, the public isn’t going to be so easily deceived. Holding Biden to the same standard that Brett Kavanaugh was (or at least giving the impression of doing that) would at least make them consistent.
But there’s more to the story than that. Without intending to do so, Tara Reade could wind up providing a plausible cover story for removing a candidate that has a lot more problems than one sexual assault allegation. The fact that Uncle Joe has been locked up in his basement by the pandemic is probably the only thing stopping his campaign from turning into even more of a trainwreck. The few live interviews he’s done recently have ranged from being mild and uninteresting to downright alarming when his mind appears to wander, he stumbles over his words and careens from one topic to another.
It just seems to be increasingly obvious that Joe Biden is well past his Best Sell By Date. And this is the guy that will have to go toe-to-toe with Donald Trump on the debate stage sooner or later. Swapping him out for someone younger, sharper, and preferably without a sexual assault scandal dogging their heels would probably pay big benefits.
But as we’ve discussed here in the past, that’s easier said than done. If Biden shows up at whatever passes for a convention this summer with a majority of the pledged delegates, that’s pretty much the end of the game. True, the DNC has a codicil in their rules allowing the committee to replace a nominee if they are “unable” to discharge their duties. But that’s one heck of a drastic step to take. Could Biden be quietly convinced to step aside on his own? He’s been trying to ascend to the Oval Office for decades. Somehow I doubt it. And if not, the Democrats will find themselves stuck firmly between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.