There is one thing that has been missing from the media’s analysis of Joe Biden’s denial of having “had sex with that woman,” as Bill Clinton once so artfully put it. It pertains to a question that was raised after the fact by MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski, who deserves credit for having done a yeoman’s job in her hard-hitting interview with the former vice president. The question came in a tweet:
The interview with @JoeBiden was difficult, having known and greatly respected him for decades. (I still do.) The notion that all women are to be believed, which dominated the Kavanaugh hearings, was revisited. Should it be? Were Democrats wrong THEN or NOW?
— Mika Brzezinski (@morningmika) May 1, 2020
The subject was broached about a third of the way into the interview, when the “Morning Joe” co-host said:
You were unequivocal, Mr. Vice President, back in 2018 during the Kavanaugh controversy and hearings, and you said that women should be believed. You said this: “For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she is talking about is real, whether or not she forgets the facts, whether or not it’s been made worse or better over time.”
Biden did say that at the time. So have plenty of other Democrats in recent years. At a press conference in September 2015, then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton announced:
Today I want to send a message to every survivor of sexual assault. Don’t let anyone silence your voice. You have the right to be heard. You have the right to be believed and we’re with you. [Emphasis added]
The highlighted phrase became a rallying cry that appeared on Clinton’s campaign website until it was quietly deleted from the larger quote in August of 2016.
During the Kavanaugh kerfuffle, nearly every prominent Democrat expressed the same sentiment in one form or another. Then-Sen. Barbara Boxer said of Christine Blasey Ford “This woman is to be believed. … This was attempted rape.” A headline in The Atlantic followed the argument to its logical conclusion, blaring, “Kavanaugh bears the burden of proof.”
Which of course is an utter perversion of the law, which holds that that the burden of proof rests with the accuser, who is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Although it would have been the tougher battle to fight and would rightly have brought charges of hypocrisy, Biden could have set the record straight yesterday when asked about his 2018 remarks. He could have boldly gone where no other Democrat has gone since the Kavanaugh case and said:
Mika, I was wrong in 2018. We were all wrong. Although sexual abuse is a nightmare for the victim, the law is crystal clear: The accused is to be believed — and believed to be innocent — until proven otherwise.
Yes, Biden would have been accused of copping out. Yes, he would have harmed his campaign, possibly irreparably. But he could have saved face: He could have taken the first step toward restoring the Democratic Party’s respect for and acceptance of the law, which has been AWOL for some years.