To all the Democratic voters who decided that they couldn’t vote for a woman in the Presidential primaries because other people wouldn’t, may this moment be a reckoning. Elizabeth Warren might have been the presumptive Democratic candidate right now. Moderates might prefer to imagine Amy Klobuchar or Kamala Harris in the role. But none of the women in the race were likely to be accused of sexual harassment. Instead, here we are, having to parse and assess and judge, with inevitably limited knowledge, another allegation of sexual misconduct against another older male politician. Democrats are struggling with the unasked-for moral dilemma of whether it is hypocritical to question the veracity of Joe Biden’s accuser, Tara Reade, when so many of them had fully embraced the #MeToo movement’s (always too simplistic) exhortation to “believe women.” Maybe some of those who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Bernie Sanders, because they worried that he was too radical for general-election voters, might want to reappraise their choice, too. Medicare for All sounds better than ever in a pandemic that every day exposes the brutal inequities in our health-care system. And Sanders, although he is of the same generation as Biden, never seems to have had his retro pol’s reputation for handsiness and gaffes.

体育投注平台Last March, Lucy Flores, a former Nevada state legislator, wrote describing how, at a 2014 campaign event, Biden, who was there to support her candidacy for lieutenant governor, leaned in to take a big whiff of her hair and “proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head,” just before she went onstage. It didn’t sound like a huge deal, but it sounded patronizing and uncomfortable, and it was hard to imagine Biden doing it to a male political colleague. Nor was it a one-off—seven other women came forward telling similar anecdotes. Biden is an old-fashioned, shoulder-clasping, up-close-and-personal politician, but he got a little more nuzzly and snuggly with women. Unlike Donald Trump, Biden hasn’t boasted of grabbing women “by the pussy.” Unlike with Trump, there were, to that point, no allegations of sexual assault against him. But, as Flores wrote, “Even if his behavior wasn’t violent or sexual, it was demeaning and disrespectful. I wasn’t attending the rally as his mentee or even his friend; I was there as the most qualified person for the job.”

体育投注平台Biden issued a video , saying that he would be more “mindful” in the future: “The boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset and I get it, I get it.” That was a pretty good answer—after all, one goal of a movement that aims to transform outdated social norms is to get people to reflect on how they’ve unthinkingly perpetuated them and how to avoid doing so in the future. Biden’s two-minute I’ll-do-better video was so much more than you’d ever expect from Trump that it felt like real progress.

Now, though, Biden faces a much more serious allegation. In a podcast that aired in March, Tara Reade, a former staffer in Biden’s Senate office, said that, in 1993, when she went to see him on a work errand, Biden pinned her against a wall and penetrated her with his fingers. In earlier versions of her story, Reade had described less egregious behavior on Biden’s part, incidents more along the lines of Lucy Flores’s account: “He used to put his hand on my shoulder and run his finger up my neck,” Reade told the newspaper in California last April. “I would just kind of freeze and wait for him to stop doing that.” In interviews with the Associated Press last year, she said, “I wasn’t scared of him, that he was going to take me in a room or anything. It wasn’t that kind of vibe.” But the fact that her story has expanded does not necessarily mean it’s not true. People can choose to reveal the full contours of a traumatic incident at their own pace. And some corroboration has since emerged: most convincingly, a former neighbor of Reade’s, Lynda LaCasse, told Business Insider last week that she remembered Reade in 1995 or 1996 recounting the story she is telling now.

Biden emphatically denies the charge. On Friday, in the first appearance in which he directly addressed it (previously, his campaign had issued statements refuting Reade), Biden told Mika Brzezinski, on “,” “I’m saying unequivocally it never, never happened.” Reade says she went to three people in Biden’s office with her harassment concerns: an aide, Dennis Toner; Ted Kaufman, who was then Biden’s chief of staff; and Biden’s executive assistant, Marianne Baker. All three say they have no recollection of Reade’s having done so.

It may never be possible to know for sure whether Reade’s allegation is true, but it is not being ignored. The Washington Post and the New York Times, among other publications, have run detailed, front-page stories on Reade’s claims. (Reade had a television interview scheduled with Fox News over the weekend, which she cancelled, saying she had received threatening messages.) On Friday, Biden called on the National Archives to search the Senate personnel files for any sexual-harassment complaint against him; if such a thing existed, he said, that’s where it would be, adding, “I’m confident there’s nothing.” (Over the weekend, the A.P. reported that Reade says she did not mention the alleged assault in the complaint she says she filed at the time, and likely did not use the term harassment. “I remember talking about him wanting me to serve drinks because he liked my legs and thought I was pretty and it made me uncomfortable,” Reade said. “I know that I was too scared to write about the sexual assault.”) Biden could do more. He could release his , which are housed at the University of Delaware, and are not now due to be released until after he leaves public life. He declined, saying that they would not contain personnel information.

If Biden actually did what Reade says he did, it would be possible, barely, to imagine a scenario in which he admitted it, apologized, and gave a speech that explored gender and power—though that would require the kind of calm eloquence that Biden rarely delivers. If he didn’t do it, then he must keep saying so, without smearing Reade. (He hasn’t so far.) This is not the Clinton era, when shaming and demeaning an accuser was an acceptable strategy. Not that people don’t do that—in fact, online trolling crowdsources such bullying on an enormous scale—but Democrats, anyway, may at least pay a political price for it. Biden’s potential running mate, who he’s promised will be a woman, will have to practice that kind of circumspection as well, and likely answer questions about why she might have found previous accusers of prominent men, such as Christine Blasey Ford, credible, but not Reade.

体育投注平台In the meantime, there is a blunt truth to face: Biden will, in all likelihood, be the Democratic Presidential candidate, and four more years of Trump would be disastrous, not least for women. He has already appointed nearly as many judges to the federal courts as Obama did in his entire Presidency. These judges will be in a position to gut reproductive rights, along with voting rights, workers’ rights, immigrants’ rights, and environmental protections. Our last chance to take any real action on climate change would be lost if Trump won, along with our ability to effectively fight any future pandemic in concert with other countries. Our democracy would be irreparably damaged. Lynda LaCasse may have been speaking for many when she described herself as “a very strong Democrat” who supported Elizabeth Warren in the primaries but is planning to vote for Biden in the general election. And she believes Tara Reade’s allegation.