Saturday, May 2, 2020

Joe Biden in the Headlights

Pick a metaphor, any metaphor.

The dam has burst. The firewall broke down. The candidate, despite all of the cosmetic surgery he's had, looks like a deer in the headlights.

Tara Reade’s assault charge against Joe Biden is suddenly big news, everywhere. The New York Times editorialized that the claims should be investigated by the Democratic National Committee. You know, by a fair and impartial panel. 

But, no one cares about Times editorials anyway. The truth is, the story is out and Joe Biden, who is sitting stone faced in his basement, now gets associated with Tara Reade. It's not the kind of attention one wants during a national crisis.

One notes that President Trump has wisely chosen not to take a side on this one. When your opponent is self-deconstructing, get out of the way.

Among the more interesting comments on the affair is this, from Bret Stephens at the New York Times. Stephens opines that he would prefer not decide who to believe. He seems to believe that belief is an imprecise standard. He does not mention it, so I will, but the transgendered are basing their putative identities on precisely that: a belief. They believe that God made a mistake. They believe that God put them in the wrong kind of bodies and gave them the wrong kinds of chromosomes. They believe that their belief negates their biological reality. And they insist that if you do not accept their beliefs as scientific fact, you are a bigot and must be canceled.

So, you see, questioning the value of belief is not such a bad thing after all.

But, Stephens adds a more salient point, one that concerns policy. We all care about policy, don’t we? It makes us feel sophisticated. And we all want to see ourselves as sophisticated thinkers. Right?

Anyway, Stephens reminds us of a policy imposed on academic institutions by the Obama administration Department of Education. The policy was wildly cheered by none other than then vice president Biden. As you know, the policy required universities to take at face value any accusation of sexual harassment, most especially those that were leveled by women against men. Men were to be presumed guilty. They were not allowed to be represented by attorneys. They were not allowed to cross examine their accusers. They were deprived of due process rights… because women all had to be believed.

Now, Stephens describes it a bit differently, but here is his rendering of the Obama administration policy, one that Trump administration Education Secretary Betsy de Vos is rolling back.

Rewind instead to 2011, when then-Vice President Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced a new policy of “comprehensive guidance” on matters of sexual violence and harassment for any school, college or university receiving federal aid. The guidance, issued in the form of a “Dear Colleague” letter, demanded that campus administrators use a “preponderance of evidence” standard — also known as “50 percent plus a feather” — to adjudicate accusations of sexual assault.

Preponderance of evidence, the standard that pertains in civil cases. And yet, this standard was not applied in a court of law. It was applied by a kangaroo court of university administrators. 

The result should not have surprised:

As with so many such policies, the intentions were irreproachable. To take a zero-tolerance attitude toward every form of sexual abuse. To transform the way that women thought of their experiences of abuse and of their rights. To teach men to think much harder about their behavior and their responsibilities. As Biden put it in a 2015 speech, “We need a fundamental change in our culture. And the quickest way to change culture is to change it on campuses of America.”

But if the goal was laudable, the means frequently were not. It’s one thing to use a “preponderance of evidence” standard in a civil case. It’s another when there’s a 50 percent minus a feather chance that an innocent person might have his (and occasionally her) reputation destroyed and life wrecked by a dubious accusation.

Within a few years there were at least hundreds of such cases. Accused students, sometimes facing charges based on ambiguous sexual encounters, were left to fend for themselves in campus tribunals with little regard for due process. Guilty verdicts in these kangaroo courts tended to run high, but so did stories of financial settlements between schools and the families of the accused.

Stephens adds that Biden never spoke up against this injustice. As it happened, numerous law professors did, but the point here is that if Joe Biden is judged by the standards imposed by the Obama-Biden administration, he will have a problem. And the Democratic Party should start looking for another candidate. Then again, that might be the rationale behind this anyway.


trigger warning said...

Good title, but I like "Joe Biden: Deer in the Headlights" better. Just sayin'.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

“Tara Reade’s assault charge against Joe Biden is suddenly big news, everywhere.“


Sam L. said...


UbuMaccabee said...

The only way that ordinary people will begin to understand modern feminism is when their family member is falsely accused of rape and has their life destroyed by a crazy woman using a crazy system with the full support of our primary institutions. Then it will dawn on them that something wicked has come this way. Until then, any woman, for any reason, with the thinnest of evidence, can publicly ruin a man's life by charging him with a sexual crime. The only insurance policy is to contribute money to the very forces that want to ruin you.

I'm glad I'm married to traditional women and none of this is my problem.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

The Big Enemedia look like bigger fools with each passing day. I have no idea why anyone would believe a major network, newspaper or magazine today. They are all transparently in the bag for Democrats. They don’t even talk about being “objective” anymore. Instead, they talk of “journalistic standards,” which no longer exist, apart from dictionaries and style guides. It’s open season on Republicans, all the time. The Big Enemedia’s job is to avoid news that makes Democrats look bad. Ever watched an unedited Nancy Pelosi news conference? Enlightening. It’s a really tough job to edit her idiocy in a way that looks good. So instead, we get fake news about the President literally recommending that people inject Lysol.

DocVinny said...

"Pick a metaphor".. First thing that actually popped into my head was "merry-go-round broke down"