Democrats continued to fall into Party line on Monday morning when Nancy Pelosi announced her endorsement for Joe Biden to be the Democratic nominee for president. The Speaker of the House’s announcement breathed new life into the lingering dilemma of how Democrats can reconcile supporting a candidate accused of the same types of sexual assault allegations that they’ve readily condemned when leveled against Republicans.
Pelosi called Biden “a leader who is the personification of hope and courage, values, authenticity and integrity,” but her support for the presumptive nominee was absent of any mention of the sexual assault accusation made against him by Tara Reade, his former senatorial aide decades ago. Pelosi was the latest Democrat to voice support for Biden without openly acknowledging what’s emerging as the elephant in the room — no partisan pun — as Republicans work to bring attention to a topic that Democrats have previously, and readily, condemned when they were made against people like Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh.
In fact, there seems to be growing outrage on social media over mainstream media’s apparent collective decision to either gloss over or completely ignore Reade’s accusations, which recently got an extra boost of credibility with a new report from Reade’s mother last week. That treatment stood in stark contrast to how Democrats reacted to Kavanaugh, who was accused of a decades-old sexual assault by Christine Blasey Ford. At the time in 2018, Pelosi emerged as the Democrats’ voice of moral authority as it pertained to sexual assault allegations.
“Survivors should be supported when they come forward without the fear of threats or further trauma. There must be an acknowledgement of the life-long impact of this episode, the cost to the family of coming forward and the gravity of a lifetime Supreme Court nomination,” Pelosi said at the time before she insisted that failing to thoroughly investigate “these serious and credible allegations would be a dereliction of Congress’ duty to demand zero tolerance of sexual harassment and abuse.”
There was no trace of that same energy in her endorsement of Biden on Monday. Likewise, the Sunday morning talk shows invited several people being considered for Biden’s vice-presidential running mate but never asked any of the women about Reade’s claims once. It was an especially curious development considering audio of Reade’s mother was republished on Friday confirming she called and was featured on Larry King’s CNN show in 1993 discussing her daughter’s allegations 27 years ago — allegations that Biden has repeatedly denied.
So what changed?
A Washington Post report from last summer found that the Me Too movement to support sexual assault and end sexual violence is not the same priority for Democratic voters this year as it was 12 months earlier when Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax was being pressured to step down after facing his own accusations of rape. Fairfax, still in office and now running for governor in 2021, has been recently tweeting about this disparity in reactions from his Party in an effort to bring attention to what he says is the damage such allegations can do to the accused without any semblance of due process being afforded.
Pelosi’s endorsement joined other high-profile supporters like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, all of whom either stated unequivocally or implicitly suggested that they believed Blasey Ford’s accusations against Kavanaugh, which are very similar in nature to Reade’s allegations against Biden. Barack Obama, who also recently endorsed Biden, has also come out in full support of the Me Too movement.
To be sure, everybody in America should be afforded the presumption of innocence unless proven guilty. Katie Halper, whose podcast interview with Reade last month revealed the sexual assault allegations’ graphic nature, blamed the media for ignoring the story and said Reade deserves to be heard.
We are in an excruciating situation with no easy solutions. Tara wants Biden to step down, understandably, as do others who see him as a disastrous candidate. Others wish Tara had been listened to before Biden was the last man standing, but now see no alternative. Both positions are understandable and neither should be shamed,” Halper wrote in the Guardian on Friday. “But what is shameful is ignoring or belittling Tara because it’s politically inconvenient to grapple with her story. The powerful media, politicians and organizations who ignored her or didn’t take her seriously enough have no authority to say anything besides ‘I’m sorry,’ and promise to do better, for Tara, women like her and the #MeToo movement they’ve already harmed.”