Hypocrisy? Look Who’s Talking

I really didn’t want to revisit this issue. But…

I keep seeing headlines like this one from 538.com–“Believe Women or Back the Nominee?” That is an offensive, intellectually dishonest formulation.

It isn’t just 538.com. Pundits on the Left and Right are accusing liberal women who are skeptical of Tara Reade’s accusations against Joe Biden of hypocritical disloyalty to women. Evidently, if you believe the highly credible accusations against Donald Trump, who has been the target of at least 17 complaints of sexual misconduct, but you find the single charge lodged against Biden to be dubious at best, it constitutes prima facia evidence of hypocrisy.

That–to use an inelegant word–is bullshit.

Along with the other inconsistencies and questionable elements of the Tara Reade accusations, there is the undeniable fact that Joe Biden has been repeatedly vetted; most recently when he was under consideration by Obama for Vice President. No investigation has uncovered the slightest hint–let alone an accusation– of sexually inappropriate behavior. (Yes, he’s “handsy”–he likes to hug and touch, and that has made some women uncomfortable, but that is a very different thing.)

In Washington, where there is gossip about everyone, there has never even been any gossip about Biden engaging in inappropriate behavior with women.

Then there is this observation from a commenter to this blog who spent many years in Washington:

I worked in the U.S. Senate in the 60s, and even then, U.S. Senate office building hallways where the abuse was supposed to have happened, are VERY public, well traveled thoroughfares. They have become ever more public over the years. Numerous Senate offices open onto those hallways which are traveled by Capitol Hill police, Senators and staffers, the media, lobbyists, tourists and tour groups, constituents, mail carriers, vendor deliveries, custodians, facilities maintenance personnel, and more. Any Senator wanting to sexually assault someone would do so in their own office (and lock the doors), or a vacant committee room, a storage closet, or a hideaway office to do the deed. The last place they’d pick would be a Senate hallway. This accusation does not have the ring of truth.

Biden has categorically denied the incident ever occurred and has called for a thorough search of Senate archives for the complaint that Reade says she filed. (Her descriptions of the contents of that purported complaint have now changed, too. In contrast to her earlier descriptions of the complaint, she now says it didn’t include any reference to sexual assault.)To date, reporters have been unable to find any record of any complaint.

Given the timing, the multiple inconsistencies– not just in Reade’s account but in the accounts of friends she presumably told (not contemporaneously but a few years after the supposed incident)–and the absence of any remotely similar accusation, it is hardly unreasonable that many women find Reade’s charges unconvincing.

In her daily Letter, Heather Cox Richardson observes that the Trump campaign is using Reade’s story to regain control of the political narrative.

The attempt to get Biden to jump through hoops Trump ignores is classic gaslighting. It keeps Biden on the defensive and makes sure he is reinforcing Trump’s narrative, thus strengthening Trump even as Biden tries to carve out his own campaign. It is precisely what the Trump campaign, abetted by the media, did in 2016.

The pundits and media outlets that are feeding on what several reporters had previously investigated and concluded was a “non-story” are once again allowing themselves to be used. In 2016, it was “her emails.” In 2020 it’s “all women must be uncritically believed.”

Not simply taken seriously, or given the benefit of the doubt, but believed.

Apparently, in order to be “real” feminists, “real” advocates for women, “real” supporters of #MeToo, we must uncritically accept any and all claims made against politicians we admire or support, no matter how dubious. Otherwise, we’re hypocrites.

If I am to be classified as a hypocrite, let me share some admissions-against-interest: I did believe several of the accusations against Bill Clinton but voted for him anyway, because I agreed with most of his policies–just as all those pious “Christians” continue to support Trump despite the porn stars, pussy-grabbing and very credible allegations of rape, because he is “Christianizing” our courts.

I also was–and remain– absolutely enraged by the hubris of the self-appointed, self-aggrandizing “defenders of women” who hounded Al Franken from the Senate. Franken was a longtime, highly effective advocate for women and the behavior he was accused of fell far short of assault.

Bottom line: I simply do not believe that drawing critical distinctions between boorishness and assault, or coming to a negative conclusion about the merits of a suspicious claim makes feminists hypocrites.

Speaking of pots and kettles, real hypocrisy is handing over control of the narrative to a man who lies constantly, refuses to release his tax returns,  fires Inspectors General in order to thwart oversight, and makes everyone who works for him sign a non-disclosure-agreement.


  1. Nathaniel Read Silver (yes, his middle name is Read) gained a following by analyzing baseball and developing a system for forecasting career and development of Major League Baseball players. He moved on to successfully forecast the outcome of 49 of 50 states in the 2008 and 50 of 50 states in the 2012 elections. I’m just posting what I read in his Wikipedia biography.

    “Believe Women Or Back The Nominee?” I don’t remember but did he speak out on this topic during the Bret Kavannaugh hearingS (plural). Joe has stated repeatedly that women are to be considered credible in these accusations and the accusations need to be fully investigated…including the accusations by Tara Reade or whatever name she was using 27 years ago. Was she vetted prior to being hired in the Senate? Professor Ford’s credentials were impeccable; that is not to say that an unstable woman could not have been sexually harassed or sexually abused and Read’s history evidences an unstable woman. Joe Biden has been fully vetted repeatedly during his political career as he moved up the ladder to the honorable position of Vice President of the United States of America. When he initially cast his name as a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate the accusations began to flow early on. He apologized for any embarrassment or discomfort he caused with his hugs, shoulder patting or invasion of their personal space by his affectionate reaction to numerous women; Tara Reade was not among the accusers using any of her names. Why now?

    We are in a life-and-death struggle with this presidential election during a Pandemic and the downslide of the nation’s economy but are forced to be distracted by this sudden new accusation from 27 years ago by a person who cannot even remember what she accused Senator Biden of. And so far no charges have been found; Joe Biden has sought a full investigation by the Senate into these accusations.

    Maybe soothsayer Nate Silver can forecast the outcome of this nonsense before the November 3rd presidential election.

  2. Thank you for your column. I’m a big admirer of both you and Heather Cox Richardson.
    Your column though has expressed eloquently the thoughts running through my head and validates that I’m not being irrational.

  3. Professor! My ears tingled to read the bulsh … Well, you know. You used the word (I believe referred to as “a barnyard epithet” in The expurgated Oval Office transcripts) in an accurate and appropriate way. In these times, Bowdler be damned!

  4. We better come up with something MORE than attempting to respond to Trump’s BULLSHIT. That has got us nowhere and never will.

    Try to understand the quote by Professor Albert Einstein: “Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that caused them.”

    Possibly, then we might have a chance for a MIRACLE!

  5. A fervently Bernie young friend latched onto this story early and has been going on about it on Facebook. as have her friends. Asked in person what she will do, she said she will hold her nose in disgust, will vote Democrat, not a vote for Biden himself but for the Supreme Court of the future.

  6. Yes. The Tara Reade fiasco is typical of what our society produces. Socially, the breathless tabloid mentality of those who have no real life of their own glom onto this BULLSHIT (I love it when you swear, Sheila) as if it were their lifeblood. Politically, it is what Republicans keep pushing to distract the above potential voter from the fact that they’re being robbed blind and that they have no other agenda than to continue to fleece the nation at the behest of the billionaire classes who pay/bribe them.

    Stay tuned, my activist and knowledgeable friends. Keep a barf bag handy. It’s going to get much, much worse. When the Republicans see that they’re going to get creamed in November, they will pull all the stops. I expect that soon after Biden names is running mate – maybe around June or July – the Republican shit machine will shift into high gear.

    Todd won’t be able to blame the Democrats for Tara Reade or anything she’s brought forth. After all, Trump just called Nicolle Wallace a dog. She used to work for John McCain and George W. Bush.

    Oh. Where is my barf bag? Ah. Just in time….

  7. We’re like a football team that thinks it can win by just running the ball and doesn’t need a quarterback that can pass the ball. The CONTEXT has changed and we have failed to change with it.

  8. “… but his Senate papers!” That will be the left’s cry of defeat this November.

  9. Already had this discussion on Facebook when a local GOP loyalist talked about the hypocrisy within the DNC, including Joe Biden.

    I agree with critical thinking, and the #MeToo movement negated that because it originated as an emotional movement. I was flat out told by both women and men supporters of the #MeToo movement that victims must be believed and not judged in any way, including why they didn’t speak out when the assault or harassment took place.

    Those are the rules which negate critical thinking at any level. I know good people destroyed merely with “allegations” which later proved not to be true. Two of them were school teachers who had to change careers in the middle to late stages of their lives.

    According to #MeToo’s own rules, Tara Reade is telling the truth now but was too afraid to come forward when it happened. Her mother even said she was telling the truth.

    Therefore, Joe and the DNC women speaking out for Joe are hypocrites and placing politics before the people once again, just exactly what the GOP does almost continuously.


    The problem is she’s lying, but I didn’t make the rules. When critical thinking is tossed aside for emotions, inconsistencies and hypocrisies abound.

  10. As noted in a previous blog, there is the “coincidence” of her being an ardent Bernie supporter and then, after her “new”charges , followed by three prominent members of his campaign calling for Biden to step down as the candidate.

    Haven’t heard Bernie say anything at all….hmmm

  11. It’s a shame that many women voted for Trump, speaking of hypocrisy.

    I find it difficult to believe Ms. Reade’s claim that Biden sexually assaulted her because there is no corroborating evidence.

    I just hope that Biden and his campaign advisers create an effective strategy that allows them to control the narrative. And that the narrative can move beyond a simple reaction to Trump’s narrative.

  12. Robin, the strategy will be unveiled on MSDNC, most likely by Rachel MADDOW:

    Tara Reade is a Russian plant.

    #RUSSIAGATE, continued…

  13. You are right Marv,

    Once again, responding to out and out blatant fabrications, lies, and misdirections, will definitely get you nowhere! Because those toadies who are in lockstep, enjoy the fact that he can get away with murder, literally, MURDER! With his handling of this covid19 outbreak/pandemic, he has literally murdered tens of thousands of Americans! And, considering all of POTUS shenanigans, probably tens of thousands more!

    Of course you knew something was going to come up about Joe Biden, because the Ukraine thing never gained any traction, and some of the investigation into it was leading back to the current POTUS, so that he immediately dried up after that tack was taken. What they did with Hillary Clinton, they kept the misogynistic barrage going until she was beaten to a pulp, and not just the GOP, the supposed liberal media, LOL?, Like the New York Times, piled on! I believe the New York Times saw an opportunity, an opportunity to save their hides from declining viewership. I’m sure she ticked off a few of their reporters now and again. For someone who was a stellar 1st lady, and a stellar Secretary of State, a woman that lived in a jet putting out fires all over the world, she was horn swaggeled! All of the stuff that they claimed Hillary Clinton did, even if any of it were true, pales in comparison to what’s been happening for the past 3 and half years!

    So, don’t think there isn’t any sort of connection between the Trump supporter and the Bernie Bro. They sound almost identical online, and there spokes person’s run in the same circles! Does Bernie Sanders really think that all of these young folks are that infatuated with an old curmudgeon? Ordinarily, these folks would be ridiculing and making fun of Sanders, not holding him up on a pedestal! The uproar from these young folks would ordinarily blot out any positive message Sanders would’ve had, because they would consider him expired like an old carton of half-and-half!

    The same playbook, they tried it with Obama but it didn’t work out too well, because he didn’t have that much of a record and he wasn’t involved in nefarious activities even though they worked hard to try and find some. If the birther movement would’ve gained more traction in the beginning, it might have had an effect on Obama winning his 1st election. They did try to label him a godless heathen so to speak, a Muslim terrorist! And belittle/ridicule his community activism, which should have given a lot of insight into how this individual who is the current POTUS would operate.

    Without a doubt they are going to throw everything including the kitchen sink at Joe Biden because not only is he and Trump’s way, he was also Obama’s vice president!

    Biden’s accuser does not portray any sort of credibility whatsoever, there’s too much information out there, she’s made other accusations on other individuals, and it seems that no one is mentioning that at all. So, this individual is deeply flawed and has some sort of emotional or mental illness. And, a mentally ill person should not be held accountable for actions that have been encouraged by those who want to use them. Those who are manipulators are the actual criminals in this particular event.

    This is right out of the Nazi playbook, history is cyclical and constantly repeats. There is nothing happening now that didn’t happen during the 1st world war or the 2nd world war. Imperial Germany and Nazi Germany.
    The 2nd and 3rd Reich!

    And just like sunlight disinfects, and makes roaches scurry, one would have to keep the disinfectant flowing and keeping the light shining on those dark corners by replaying the hypocrisy out of their own mouths 24 7 365 days a year. When those roaches scurry, when the virus is dying, it’s a helter-skelter, usually leading to self immolation so to speak!

  14. Don’t waste a lot of time responding DIRECTLY to Trump’s “deep” base, as there has to be better things to do:

    “They do not want any acquired opinions; they want to be innate. Since they are afraid of reasoning, they wish to lead the kind of life wherein reasoning and research play only a subordinate role, wherein one seeks only what he already has found, wherein one becomes only what he already was. This is nothing but passion. Only a strong emotional bias can give a lightninglike certainty; it alone can remain impervious to experience and last for a WHOLE LIFETIME.”

    “Anti-Semite and Jew: An Exploration of the Etiology of Hate” by Jean-Paul Sartre (Schocken Books, New York, 1948) p. 19.

  15. The Trump name brand is fairing badly lately, thank God, and his brand management genes have kicked in but the only trick left in his bag is blame, brag having been running on empty for quite awhile now. He can’t wait to return to being surrounded by his people who believe all of the lies and support him anyway as their way to get even with the country that allowed progress to happen and leave them eating dust. We don’t know if his Russian afterburners have kicked in yet also but surely as November gets closer the shitstorm around him will get unbearable.

  16. I don’t know about all of you, but I am sick and tired of the Democrats going all out and taking the “high ground” while the Republicans go lower than imaginable. When are we going to learn? Donald Trump has been accused of sexual assault numerous times and we have no idea how many of his accusers have been paid off. Everyone that works for Trump has to sign a DNR. We will never know how many skeletons are in his closet. He has not released his taxes and has not let anyone testify under oath about anything. He even has forbidden Dr. Fauci to appear before the House. But Joe should order all his records regarding a very questionable accusation released? Talk about bullshit!!! I have no problem with morality, competence, honesty etc. but any standards that apply here should be standards for both sides. If we are going to forever the party of the “high road” we should expect the same from the other party and stop acting like we need to please everyone all the time. Enough of this already!

  17. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Biden does not live in a glass house; Trump does, but throws stones anyway and, contrary to reason, millions don’t seem to care. I can’t think of a more descriptive term than hypocrisy to describe this Biden smear, as millions support Trump’s projections sans the evidence. as though truth and facts don’t matter.

  18. Saw this recently….”when they go low, we go Joe”. Maybe from Michelle? 🙂 🙂

  19. I’ll hand open access to the documents you want when you turn over your tax records, Donny-boy; that’s what I’d tell the jerk.

    And I’ll tell all of you that if Joe, the career politician, botches the politics of dealing with Don, the Ignorant, as Democrats have done so far, then maybe I’m on the side of dumb people and need to reassess.

  20. Maybe, when all is lost, this can bring us some comfort.

    An examination of Dante’s Circles of Hell:

    “Dante’s Hell consists of nine main circles. Each circle of hell, or level, is subdivided into smaller regions devoted to exquisite punishments for the sinners assigned eternally to that location. Although Dante was influenced by Christian doctrine in his conception of Hell as a place of eternal damnation, he also applied his creative vision to invent a hell which was entirely unique and reflected his own concepts and prejudices. The different levels of Hell do correspond somewhat to Christian concepts of sin. For example, Dante conceives the circle of hell devoted to punishing those guilty of murder or theft, both of which are forbidden by the Ten Commandments. But Dante also deviates from a strict application of the Commandments. His vision of hell conceives of punishments for those guilty of any one of the Seven Deadly Sins, such as laziness or gluttony (overeating), which in today’s society would at most be looked upon as personality flaws or even addictions. Furthermore, he ranks the sins differently than in Christian doctrine. For example, the greatest sin according to the Ten Commandments is blasphemy and related offenses against God.”

    “In Dante’s Circles of Hell, the lowest circle is reserved for the worst sinner, who in his view is the traitor and backstabber, those who used their position of trust or friendship to carry out their crime.”

    See DanteInferno.info

  21. Curiously Tara Reade didn’t make her accusations public when Joe Biden was among those Obama was considering for Vice President. Neither did she make her accusations during the 8 years he served as Vice President nor the 3 years after he was out of office.

    She has been an ardent supporter of Bernie Sanders this election cycle, and now that his loss and concession is a fait accompli, she’s become very public about a 27 year old incident, the details of which keep changing. Now that Biden has asked for the national archives to reveal her complaint if there ever was one, only now does she say that her complaint wouldn’t reveal that it was sexual harassment or assault.

    Both her timing and her changing details raise more questions about her than about Biden.

  22. Okay, it’s fine for Trump accusers to come forward after dozens of years, but it’s not fine for Biden accusers to do so. Where’s the consistency in that?

    Frankly, I don’t give a damn whether either one of them sexually assaulted a woman. There are far, far, far, far more important issues that bear on the likelihood of candidates becoming good presidents. And as we have learned with the election of Trump, there are far more potent issues that win or lose elections.

    Biden needs no Democrat to take his side on this sexual conduct issue. He needs Democrats to focus on issues that win elections.

    If Democrats think a hodgepodge of special interest groups–blacks, browns,women, Me-toos, gays, trannies, sandscritters, Belted Kingfisher spotters, Chastity Belt Wearers, Gandy Dancers, Abecedarians, Cork Sock Makers, Honey Dippers, Schrimpschongers, Pleachers, Plumassiers, Scagiolas, etc.–will not be enough to beat Trump and win the Senate, maybe we should select a few issues that will be enough.

  23. Let’s see now. The only conversation about Biden at this time during a giant crisis of Trump’s making is about an old and most likely fabricated sex abuse charge. The public asks “What’s Biden saying about the Corona virus?” And the answer is “Nothing. He’s too busy answering the idiots who are fixated on this manufactured scandal and not on Trump’s fumbling of government action against the virus.”
    Way to go Democrats.

  24. Theresa,

    “He’s too busy answering the idiots who are fixated on this manufactured scandal and not on Trump’s fumbling of government action against the virus.”

    “Way to go Democrats.”

    If he can’t at least do that, what chance do the Democrats have for stopping the “bottom from falling out?” Answer: None

  25. Lester,

    You gotta be kidding. Maybe Biden should have started out saying in the New York Times article: “I hope you don’t take offense, but……..”

  26. I have always preferred the word, Balderdash – more syllables to chew on, but in this case, Bullshit is short and sharp.

    I find it annoying that even MSNBC is hyping this.

    Shiela – yes, yes, yes — and thank you

  27. This has absolutely nothing to do with Bernie Sanders. I am an ‘anyone but Trump voter’ but even I am getting angry about the sweaty haste of the neoliberals to find someone on which to blame the weakness of their candidate, which was glaringly apparent from the first. I only hope Biden listens to his better angels, like LBJ, to correct the entrenched corruption and inequality in both parties. He may have it in him but it will take his friendship and decency with Sanders to bring it about.

  28. To where will the Trump Coven retreat from justice in January? Will it be Moscow or Beijing? Will they escape in Air Force One and Two? Are the villas already being prepared for them? I heard Mother Pence is studying Eastern languages.
    Of course, the Justice Department is not officially preparing yet to “Barr” the grand exodus but in January we’ll have a new Attorney General and a new Cabinet. The new color of choice now is BLUE like the sky; no more RED like China and Russia.

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