Sometimes you read a headline and think, “Surely, this is The Onion.” Then you click and realize it isn’t. When I saw one that blared “The Right Wants to Use Tara Reade’s Claims to Snuff Out the #MeToo Movement” from Daily Beast Editor-At-Large Molly Jong-Fast, I was snookered.
At first, I laughed out loud. The allegations against presumptive Democrat nominee Joe Biden have always come from the left. From former Nevada lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Lucy Flores to former staffer Tara Reade, his accusers have been left-wing, as have been the outlets that broke the stories. In both of these cases, it was the Bernie Sanders wing of the party. Most conservatives I talk to are not invested in Tara Reade’s claim. In fact, many are skeptical for the same reasons they were skeptical of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s claim. What they are invested in is holding #MeToo to the standard the movement set.
In the first two paragraphs, Jong-Fast came dangerously close to getting it.
A conservative friend announced to me on the phone, gleefully, “This is the end of #MeToo.” He paused. “Do you believe all women? Do you? Do you? Or do you only believe it when it’s our guy?”
This sentiment is repeated everywhere in the conservative media. Finally, conservatives feel vindicated. They’ve got “us” this time. Right-wing journalist Stephen L. Miller tweeted, “Lot of blue checks suddenly not believing women.”
Then she spun into some weird theories on what conservatives were trying to defend and a bizarre attack on Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist. Mollie’s only sin was co-authoring the definitive account of the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings and pointing out the only actual news in a competing account written by two New York Times reporters. That news was the fact that people had threatened Ford’s high school friend Leland Keyser in order to force her to support Ford’s claims. Mollie’s book was also a best seller. The other book was not.
By-and-large, conservatives are not trying to defend anything other than due process, which is the exact principle we have been trying to defend, all along. Whether it was the ‘Dear Colleague’ letter that turned college committees into kangaroo courts or the allegations made by Blasey Ford against Brett Kavanaugh. We believe in evidence and innocent until proven guilty. I have heard very few say that there should be an exception in Biden’s current situation.
You would be hard-pressed to find a conservative who does not believe abusers should be punished. We simply rely on the sum total of the evidence to evaluate the claims. It is also understood the evidence may not be sufficient and sometimes an abuser goes free. The system is set up to try to ensure an innocent person is not convicted. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, it is the worst system in the world, except for all the others.
On to the details. What most conservatives — and even some liberals — are pointing out is the failure of members of the #MeToo movement to live up to the standards they set. It was the #MeToo movement that said all women must be believed when they allege sexual assault. Many conservatives warned the left that this unreasonable standard is dangerous and may come back to haunt them. And here we are.
The pretzels that writers like Jong-Fast and politicians like Stacey Abrams have contorted themselves into have been stunning to behold. If you are a woman of a certain age, it is like the re-run of a lousy made-for-TV drama. We lived through Teddy Kennedy, Anita Hill and the Coke can, bimbo eruptions, a blue dress, and the Kavanaugh hearings. The playbook is obvious.
If an allegation comes against a Republican, the woman must be believed, and it is perfectly reasonable to turn the life of the man and his family upside down. There can be no corroboration, as was missing from the accounts of both Hill and Blasey Ford. You can rifle through a man’s career, personal papers, and ignore the fact they have been thoroughly investigated during the course of previous appointments. Then you can send members of the media to rifle through yearbooks and demand the meaning of the word “bouff” in a Senate hearing. Then every corporate media outlet breathlessly prints or airs the allegations of Julie Swetnick as if they had an iota of credibility and were not outrageous clickbait.
Women who have known and worked with these same men for years can vouch for their integrity and professional behavior, but they should not be believed. Even though they are women. That was always a strange quirk in the #MeToo morass.
Then leading Democrats will get on T.V. and pronounce the allegations credible in the absence of evidence. Leading Democrat women will talk about the need to believe the accuser, even when her story changes or she is caught in outright lies. It’s like they think nobody can figure out this generally happens when the feminist movement is worried about Roe v Wade.
Then Republicans, who generally hold due process principles, vote after considering the veracity of the evidence provided. Because they find it insufficient, they are misogynist rape apologists. The women who side with the evidence are accused of internalized misogyny, having rolled over to placate the patriarchy. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
If the allegation comes against a Democrat, all of a sudden due process is a principle of the left. If you are the president, your surrogates go on television and degrade, demean, and destroy your accusers. Sometimes this is even orchestrated by your wife. Monica Lewinsky, who has managed to live a quiet and successful life, then gets likened to Bill Clinton’s Xanax in a national documentary. If you’re the brother of a popular president who was assassinated, it is covered up. Then you are christened the Lion of the Senate. Even donors get a pass. Media outlets kill well-researched stories on your malfeasance. Even when your transgressions are well-known secrets.
#MeToo had some upside. In the cases where it improved support for victims of sexual assault, provided them with additional resources, or benefitted an individual survivor in any way, it was a good thing. It went too far when it morphed into a political bludgeon, however. #BelieveAllWomen is the best example. Either you believe all women, or you don’t. It is clear you don’t. So, let’s reset the standard to one that will be applied in all cases. Consider it a negotiation back to something that resembles sanity.
Generally, the right agrees with what Alyssa Milano and even Joe Biden himself have said. Claims should be taken seriously, and the evidence should be evaluated. If this is where we rightfully proceed with the Biden case, so be it, as long as it becomes the new standard. However, his vetting by the Obama team will not suffice. Neither will an investigation completed by the DNC. It’s time to send a bipartisan commission to dig through the records at the University of Delaware. We can’t have lingering questions about whether or not he may have written a word akin to “bouff” in the margin of a policy paper.
So far, all prominent proponents of #MeToo have accomplished in not living up to their own standard is the red-pilling of Rose McGowan. She has seen something she can’t unsee. It is similar to what I experienced following the so-called “bimbo eruptions” during the late ’90s. If it weren’t for double standards, the Democrats would have no standards at all. Certainly, the Reade allegations are the current case in point. And listening to my daughter and her contemporaries who have lived through Kavanaugh and are now seeing the reaction to allegations against Biden, McGowan and I aren’t the only ones who can’t unsee it.