Ford’s dredged-up memories of an alleged high school assault by Kavanaugh couldn’t get a cameo appearance today given the suddenly high standards Democrats have imposed now that Joe Biden, their presumptive presidential nominee, is on the hot seat.
My, my, my. Where to begin?
Reade, who describes herself as a 56-year-old “working-class poor person,” alleges that 27 years ago, when she was a staffer in then-Sen. Joe Biden’s office, her boss cornered her in a Capitol complex corridor, put his hands under her skirt, pushed her legs apart with his knee and penetrated her with his fingers.
On the surface, who could believe such a thing? Not only does such a scenario seem logistically challenging, but Biden is such a good guy. Isn’t he?
Whatever one’s “gut” says at this point — a much-relied-upon organ for the self-appointed judges who issue verdicts in such cases — the double standard being applied to the former vice president by some Democrats, especially by female senators who are shortlisted as his running mate, is stunning but not surprising. We’ve seen this movie before.
The same goes for certain media luminaries who were quick to indict Kavanaugh based on gut feelings and other vital signs, though under circumstances that were very different and with evidence that was much thinner. Biden was a grown man who already had been a U.S. senator for 20 years when the alleged attack against Reade, then 29, supposedly took place. Kavanaugh was a high school kid who allegedly grappled with a girl near his own age while at a party where too many beers were consumed.
Not one shred of evidence nor corroboration was ever produced to support Ford’s claims against Kavanaugh. Not. One. She just seemed credible, people said. But Reade doesn’t? On what basis? Don’t we believe all women these days? Where was the zeal with which reporters and editorialists investigated and repeated absurd tales of Kavanaugh’s high school life, including debunked gang-rape parties?
Republicans treated Ford like a Fabergé egg, as White House counselor Kellyanne Conway once noted, while Democrats, until they were recently shamed into taking Reade somewhat seriously, at first seemed content to regard her as, well, a troubled woman. As though Ford, who claimed she needed two front doors in her house, was a perfect witness.
Without putting either woman’s motivations on trial, it has always been appropriate to scrutinize their credibility. But under today’s de facto “believe every woman” standard, few dared challenge Ford, who was backed by a fleet of pro bono lawyers and top-drawer feminist organizations. Not even the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, all men, dared question Ford, instead hiring a female sexual-assault prosecutor to gently interview her.
Reade has received no such help, despite corroboration by others, including a neighbor, Lynda LaCasse, who recalled Reade providing details of the alleged assault in the mid-1990s.
Moreover, no one ever corroborated Ford’s story, including the four or five others she said were at the party where Kavanaugh allegedly attacked her. Even Ford’s closest friend, Leland Keyser, told the FBI that she had never met Kavanaugh, much less attended a party with him.
While Reade told several people at the time, including her mother and brother, Ford told no one about the alleged assault until 30 years later, when she and her husband went to a therapist to discuss Ford’s insistence on two front doors. If inconsistencies in recollections are the break point for credibility, then neither woman is to be believed.
In the aftermath of the Kavanaugh hearings, Ford became a symbol of women’s empowerment. She appeared on the cover of Time magazine and received awards and praise for her courage. She also suffered vicious social media attacks and threats, as did Kavanaugh and his family.
She has largely kept to herself since, which is surely good for her soul but is also a reminder of another lesson in the decades-long culture war over sexual harassment. Once the feminist power brokers are finished with you, they move on to slay other monsters. Unless it’s one of their own monsters.