Jim Wagner
Fickle faith in women
Letter to a liberal friend
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By Jim Wagner
April 28, 2020

My Dear Friend, (Name withheld on request.)

It seems we’ve come full circle since the Kavanagh nomination ripped the wheels off our initial friendly discussions. It’s easy to get along when the only disagreements are over favorite rock guitarists and classic cars. Looking back, our differences over the Blasey-Ford accusations nearly nipped our friendship in the bud. I now regret having likened the #MeToo movement to the mass hysteria of the Salem witch trials and the insane zealotry of the McMartin pre-school prosecution. Not that I intend to withdraw those comparisons. I trust you can handle them today, and I am more convinced than ever that they are valid. But if we could take up that conversation all over again, in deference to our nascent friendship I might be able to find a more delicate way to express my opposition to your “guilty by accusation” stand on behalf of Ford. How adamant you were that Kavanagh was guilty! “Obviously guilty,” as you put it! And I was no less intemperate in my insistence that the man deserved a presumption of innocence notwithstanding the “Believe the Woman” mania then gripping the nation.

Now here we are in opposite circumstances, with the pending Democratic presidential nominee standing accused of a sexual assault against a woman even as he sanctimoniously entertains female only candidates to be his running mate. Stop to consider the broad significance of this! Candidate Joe Biden, leader of the self-proclaimed “party of the woman,” a two term Vice President of the United States and multi term Democrat senator, stands accused of a disgusting sexual assault against a young woman who was an aide at the time under his supervision. And not just any garden variety assault, but a forceful, finger penetration rape. Perhaps more shockingly, Biden has not personally denied the charge. Instead, he allows his campaign staff to read out his focus group denials for him.

By any standard, Biden has now been accused more credibly of a far worse sexual crime than anything in the sparse and misty recollections alleged against Kavanagh by Blasey-Ford. For one thing, Biden’s accuser is a fellow Democrat who supports his political positions. Kavanagh, on the other hand, was accused by opposing party activists. And unlike Kavanagh, Biden has a history of past conduct that lends credence to these claims. Finally, Reade can offer detail, is able to specify the time and place, and has a number of witnesses to her contemporaneous reporting of the event, one of whom vows she will still vote for Biden if only because she so despises Trump. It would be generous to say that Ford was hazy about the details, and she had no idea of the year or location for the events she claimed to have so belatedly recalled.

Case closed, right? After all, aren’t we supposed to “believe the woman?” No! I do not accept Tara Reade’s testimony on its face, or even the testimony of her Biden supporting mother, neighbor or friends. Though she seems a “credible witness,” the sole qualification required for conviction by the Democrat senators on the committee investigating Kavanagh, I am not satisfied with that. Neither am I denying her claim. As before, I believe that any accusation of a criminal act—even if it is made by a woman, and even if it is against the candidate of an opposing party—must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

I know that in the Kavanagh case many insisted that the reasonable doubt standard should not apply because it wasn’t a criminal trial, or because it would be wrong to allow a man accused of such awful things to become a Supreme Court justice, or because a Justice appointment was something to which Kavanagh had no inherent right. And so now I’m wondering…. If those arguments made sense in the case of a potential Supreme Court Justice, how much more relevant and compelling must they be in the case of a candidate for the most powerful position in the world!

I will not ask what you think about this situation, because I really don’t want to put you on the spot. Nor will I ask about the fact that neither Biden nor any of his potential running mates has yet been asked by the so-called mainstream press about Tara Reade’s charges, though admittedly that is a tempting question. After all, Biden himself came out strongly on the “Believe the Woman” side when Blasey-Ford was the accuser and a Republican was the target. The same is true of several of those potential female running mates, who clamored quite vociferously in support of #MeToo and “Believe the woman” when the shoe was on the other foot. How strange is their silence now! How curious, that they would hang back so demurely in this case of a woman claiming to have been assaulted when they demanded so forcefully to be heard only a short time ago!

I copied a paragraph from Reason Magazine because it neatly encapsulates the dilemma those on the left are now facing. I will post it below. Meanwhile, Democrats are struggling to come to grips with some embarrassing alternatives. Should they stonewall the issue with the cooperation of a more-than-willing press corps? They could feign amnesia as to their past positons, pretend that Reade is not credible even by the meager standard they so eagerly endorsed against Kavanagh, and deny that they ever said we should “believe the woman.” At the cost of some obscenely bold and highly conspicuous hypocrisy, that option might defer the removal of this festering scab until after the next election. But it could also backfire and drive women away from their candidate and thus cost them any hope of winning the White House. Because it is a sure thing that the heavy handed Trump will not leave this charge alone regardless of what the home team press does.

Alternatively, the left could offer a qualified token support for the woman, coach the press on precisely what pre-arranged softball questions to serve up to Biden and his potential running mates, and then stand back with their fingers in their ears and hope that their senescent candidate doesn’t explode all over himself and that honest women don’t decide they’ve seen enough of this touchy-feely, often overly cuddly perennial presidential candidate. This seems to me the better course, because regardless of how badly such interviews went the press could manage the coverage, declare the matter to have been “fully investigated,” exonerate Biden, and move on.

But would it work? Would either of these options work? The stakes are so high! The pressure is so great! There has to be a middle alternative that combines a flagrant and shameless hypocrisy with the righteous conviction of absolute certitude. But is there such a thing? And if there is, can the Democratic Party find it in time.

As I said, I am not asking you about any of this. (But feel free to comment if you care to.) I am only expressing my admiration of that fine art George Orwell referred to as “doublethink” as it is now being displayed by our modern left. For clarity, Doublethink is “The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously…and accepting both of them. To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed…” (Concluding for Orwell), “…draw it back from oblivion for as long as it is needed to meet new circumstances, whatever they might be, even if they require a belief opposite to the one you most recently held.”

To “believe the woman” and yet not to believe the woman – simultaneously! That is the question. I think the Democrats can do it. But then I have always had more faith in them than you have. Here is the case summary from Reason. After several paragraphs describing the evidence, pro and con, and the supporting testimony for Reade, Reason concludes,

    This is by no means proof that Reade is telling the truth, and the fact that she changed her story as recently as a year ago continues to be a valid justification for maintaining healthy skepticism. But everyone who took Ford, Julie Swetnick, Deborah Ramirez, and (separately) E. Jean Carroll at face value—including the television networks that aired these women's claims immediately—should explain why this time it isn't good enough. And there's no excuse for declining to ask Biden about this. The candidate is famously committed to giving accusers at least an initial presumption of belief, no matter how long ago the allegations occurred or how reticent the victim was to discuss them.

Have fun with this one! Were I ever to find myself in a position such as this, where I was forced to defend such an absurdly impossible position, I like to think I would simply acknowledge it for what it is, wipe the egg off my face, and join in the criticism of my own party. That is what George Orwell would have done.

© Jim Wagner

 

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Jim Wagner

Jim Wagner is a retired businessman and freelance writer. His degree is in Psychology with a minor in English from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, where he lived, worked, farmed and studied for nine years after his repudiation of the Vietnam War... (more)

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