The left’s dilemma

The overt sexism of television shows like Star Trek, 1966

It’s deeply ironic that Joe Biden, who as Senator deflected and dismissed Anita Hill’s allegations of sexual harassment by then Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, now finds himself and his campaign for president distracted, and perhaps derailed, by an allegation of sexual harassment by Biden twenty-seven years ago.

Tara Reade claims Biden suddenly groped and assaulted her while she worked in his Senate office; he categorically denies her accusation. The truth of the situation is yet to be determined, but the effect of the allegation itself has been enough to undermine Biden’s candidacy and shift the media narrative away from Trump and the ongoing criminal incompetence of his administration. Moreover, it puts democrats in a terribly uncomfortable position.

When Brett Kavanaugh was nominated for the Supreme Court and confronted by accusations of sexual assault, the left rushed to endorse the credibility of his accuser, and made matters of sexual harassment against women a near litmus-test of political morality. On the heels of the “#me too” movement, in an act of judgment without due process, Senator Al Franken was ushered out of office on the basis of a dated, sophomoric spoof photo of him, then a television comedian, gesticulating towards a sleeping woman’s breasts. The “all women must be believed” movement, undoubtedly a partial reaction to the horrendous, self-described predatory sexual behavior of Donald Trump and the reality of men’s long history of tormenting women, became indelibly connected to the Democratic Party.

Now that party, and those of us who associate ourselves with it, finds itself on the horns of a dilemma, namely, spending precious time trying to help Joe Biden escape the smell of scandal while The Donald continues his relentless assault on democracy. Trump has been attempting to undermine Biden’s candidacy for years, and now a story has suddenly appeared for the media to chew upon that effectively does Trump’s job for him. Should Reade be believed? The discussion of that alone is enough to damage the left’s efforts to remove Trump from office.

Men are capable of being sexually piggish, and while no concrete evidence appears to exist that Joe Biden behaved that way, an honest appraisal of men’s treatment of women overall tilts in the direction of possibly bad behavior. Any white, male candidate over seventy years old is a likely candidate for credible accusations of sexual harassment; just watch reruns of television programs from the 1960s to the 90s and one can witness the casual and overt sexism that dominated society and treated women as sex objects, sources of entertainment and humor. It’s worth noting that such programming was created and controlled almost exclusively by men. It was precisely the cultural holdover and reproduction of such attitudes that tripped up Al Franken, who when that photo was taken was as clueless as many adult men about the dangers of sliding into adolescent behavior with women.

The Democratic Party could have avoided this particular situation, simply by nominating the likes of Elizabeth Warren or one of the other women who ran in the primaries; timidity got in the way. Electability became the watchword of the primaries despite Bernie Sanders’ and Elizabeth Warren’s clear-headed fixation on the inadequacy of America’s healthcare system (that inadequacy now proven entirely correct by the coronavirus pandemic). Uncle Joe’s perceived electability against Trump propelled him to the top.

So, here we are, in the middle of the worst public health crisis in a hundred years, with a president who speculates about injecting bleach to cure COVID-19 and thinks he’s doing a great job; an upcoming presidential election that may well require new rules for public safety that depress turnout; “protests” by men armed with AR-15s trying to intimidate public officials; and the melting of Antarctica due to global warming. And what are we talking about? Did Uncle Joe act like a pig.

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