Friday, May 01, 2020


These days, it's predictable that Jennifer Rubin will be favorably disposed toward opponents of Donald Trump. But I don't think she's really putting her thumb on the scale in this description of the interview Joe Biden gave today to Morning Joe on the subject of Tara Reade's sexual assault allegations:
Biden sat for a tough interview Friday without losing his cool. He was not angry or accusatory; he did not claim a conspiracy nor insult the accuser. He volunteered to open Senate papers (which he said are at the National Archives, not at the University of Delaware). In short, he did what an innocent person would do and say.
I'm not sure I'd describe the interview as "tough," but it put Biden on the record addressing the allegations in detail. Here it is:

You can argue that he might be guilty -- and he might be. You can argue, if you're a Republican, that he's not being held to the standard Brett Kavanaugh was, and that he's asking voters to make an exception to the slogan "Believe women."

But I suspect a lot of viewers found him disarming. I'm not sure how I feel about that -- as the 2020 campaign began, many of us watched highlight reels of Biden given shoulder rubs and smelling women's hair, and it seemed a bit creepy. A number of women who experienced it said they experienced it as creepy. But the public shrugged it off.

I think the voters who decided his handsiness was either harmless or forgivable would find Biden's denials in this interview plausible. He doesn't seem defensive. He seems perplexed by the accusation. He comes off as a wrongly accused decent guy.

I hope that he is a wrongly accused, mostly decent guy, and that the creepy behavior we know he's guilty of is the worst he's done.

But although I've been worried that this accusation could sink his candidacy -- an outcome I still think is possible -- I find myself entertaining another possibility: What if this puts him back in the spotlight and makes him seem likable? What if a few public appearances responding to these allegations get him into the news cycle, after weeks during which he's struggled to get noticed, and people respond well to him? Could this scandal actually help him?

After Biden answered Mika Brzezinski's questions about the Tara Reade allegations, he was asked a few questions by Willie Geist and Joe Scarborough. He could have been sharper at times -- he forgot the word "Ebola" and added an extra zero to the U.S. COVID-19 death toll -- but he came off as humane and thoughtful, and, unlike the president, serious about using the levers of government to reduce the pain caused by the pandemic.

A sample:
JOE BIDEN: Well, first of all, it's a false choice to choose between getting the disease under control and getting back to work. If you don't get the disease under control, not much is going to happen. We have to get the number of new cases down, and down significantly. There needs to be widespread, easily available, and prompt testing. The federal government should be doing more to make this happen. We have to make sure that our hospitals and healthcare systems are ready for flareups of the disease when it's going to occur as economic activity increases and expands.

And in the meantime, all the money that's been passed out by the Congress, very little of it has been getting in to that person that you -- that fictitious person you described, a small business. One of the things that I predicted when they passed the legislation -- remember, there used to be -- there's an oversight that was supposed to take place, an
inspector general. The president got rid of the inspector general. I was put in charge of getting, in the middle of the recession, the last recession we had, the major recession, eight hundred-plus billion dollars, eight hundred billion dollars out to help people get back to work and to help things get set up. We had an inspector general -- there was an entire team I put together. I was on the phone every day, about three to four hours every day, talking to mayors and governors and people, letting them know what's available, how we can get something done. It requires immediate and consistent and overarching focus on what has to get going.
Could he have been more articulate? Sure. Did he say "fictitious" when he meant "hypothetical"? Yes. But this really might sound refreshing to people who've been watching Trump bluster and bullshit his way through the crisis, with no idea how to make things better and no real interest in doing so. Biden seems to care, and to get what government is for -- and maybe people will pay attention to that because they're paying attention to his answers to Tara Reade questions. It's just possible that this scandal will help his campaign.

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