How Do You Plead, Joe Biden?

Up to now, the denials have come from Biden surrogates, even as the Tara Reade allegations have finally, after about a month of being largely ignored or sloughed off, moved from marginalized to mainstream. Today, Joe Biden will be arraigned in the Court of Public Opinion, where TV Judge Joe Scarborough will take his plea on Morning Joe.

How do you please, Mr. Biden? Guilty or not guilty?

Not guilty, your honor.

Fine. Let’s schedule discovery, motions and aim for a trial date in November.

Except that’s not how it’s going to go because this isn’t court, and the nation has lost its mind when it comes to rationalizing why our newly-beloved non-legal “system” of trying cases should give rise to some pseudo-official system upon which we can all rely to reach our conclusions.

This is being written in advance of Joe Biden’s appearance on Morning Joe deliberately so as not to be biased by what happens. Will Scarborough pitch Biden the softest of balls? Will Biden swing and gaffe? Will he have been well-prepped and say the words he spent last night memorizing, that “I vehemently deny that it ever happened. It’s untrue. It never happened.”

What else is he supposed to do? Unless he claims that he was walking down the Senate corridor with his index finger outstretched as he was making an emphatic point about the oppression of blacks and women in America, when a staffer who was coming from the other direction, but not watching where she was going, suddenly impaled herself on his digit, he’s got nothing.

If it did not happen, there is no way to prove the negative. He can’t offer a random video showing a hallway where he doesn’t rape anyone. He can, and likely will, talk about how no one else has come forward to claim he sniffed their hair, touched their shoulders, put his arms around them, digitally penetrated them, but that proves nothing. The guy who murders someone doesn’t get acquitted because he never murdered anyone else in his whole life. And the guy who murdered lots of people (Hi, Sammy) isn’t guilty of some random murder for lack of evidence of who did it.

There are arguments about what “burden” should be imposed, preponderance of the evidence or beyond a reasonable doubt. Putting aside the fact that the accusation is rape, not breach of contract, it’s immaterial. There is no evidence. There will be no discovery. There will be no sworn testimony. There will be no serious cross-examination of the accuser. As lawyers like to say, everybody looks credible until cross-examination. There is, and will be, no evidence despite what journalists and pundits try to sell you.

As I’ve tried to make clear, with limited success, none of this has anything to do with whatever anyone decides in the moist and dark reaches of their head about what happened. We can believe whatever we want to believe, whether for good reason, bad reason or no reason at all. So what? Believe what you want and vote for whomever you choose.

But what’s Joe Biden to do in this age of #MeToo to quash the accusation against him? Of course this isn’t a real court. Tara Reade decided not to take that path, denying herself the opportunity to legally accuse and Biden the opportunity to legally defend. Now, decades later, we’re stuck playing sandlot baseball for the World Series.

The other point Biden could pull out of his bag of tricks is that he has a long history of being the head cheerleader of the Obama administration in “believe the woman” and “It’s on us,” the men are always the rapists stance. He can out his credentials to support his denial, to show he would never do such a thing, except for one really nasty problem: While his plea of “nuance” might bolster his claim of innocence, it’s a confession of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy, of course, is not a crime. Indeed, it’s something of a national past time.

There has been a widespread epiphany of nuance lately. How wonderful and convenient! But what of the bold-faced names and names no one has or will ever hear of who were burned at the stake of believe the woman up to now? Too bad, so sad? And what will become of nuance when the next accused isn’t running for president against Darth Cheeto? Will the sides flip, the deeply passionate arguments of the faithful uttered in loud voices about their truth over and over, explain why it’s entirely different when it’s not Joe Biden but someone less needed at this moment in history?

Whatever Joe Biden does, it won’t be any more real than any other denial, any other litany of explanations and excuses by any other accused. There just isn’t much more to do than vehemently deny the accusations. That’s all the Court of Public Opinion has to offer. Why would his denial be any more valid than anyone else’s denial?

No one is proven guilty in the Court of Public Opinion. No one is proven innocent either. It’s just a cute term we use to overcome the fact that the accusation was never vetted by the legal system and so rather than adhere to the principle of “innocent until proven guilty,” we devolve into whatever we want to believe based on whatever nonsensical arguments confirm our bias.

And when Joe Biden’s arraignment on Morning Joe is over, pundits will give us the argument we can use to wrap our beliefs up in the pretty bow of validity as if there has been some legitimate system that’s reached some quasi-valid conclusion. And most people will be good with that. After all, they’ve been good with it the past 1000 times it happened, sleeping well at night knowing that the accused was found guilty in the Court of Public Opinion.

29 thoughts on “How Do You Plead, Joe Biden?

  1. OJ

    “There are arguments about what “burden” should be imposed, preponderance of the evidence or beyond a reasonable doubt. Putting aside the fact that the accusation is rape, not breach of contract, it’s immaterial. ”

    Yes there is no evidence so people’s biases will inform who they believe but preponderance could have been applied if Tara had brought a civil claim against Biden over this incident. The criminal legal system is not the sole arbiter of truth, unless you are someone who believes people who have never been criminally convicted have committed no wrongdoing, including mattress girl and numerous killer cops.

    1. SHG Post author

      She sued for battery? Not that this hasn’t been dealt with already, but you can’t have it both ways. Society has created a system to decide these matters except that if the system is ignored, then we just make it all up and decide it in whatever way any asshole chooses.

  2. M Seaton

    Cases involving rape can be heard on preponderance. Look up Rabbi Daniel Greer.

    1. SHG Post author

      Greer was convicted in a criminal prosecution under the required burden of beyond a reasonable doubt. And before any other shit for brains tries to raise some nonsense, don’t bother. You’re not getting it. Save it for your facebook friends.

      1. M Seaton

        Before he was charged criminally he was found liable by a civil jury. The processes are independent of each other. Also, mattress girl was never convicted of filling a false report on nungesser, if she runs for office would you have the same take about her as you do Biden now?

        1. SHG Post author

          I appreciate that your passion far outstrips your capacity to grasp, but your inability to grasp basic principles has nothing to do with anyone else. Of course Mattress Girl wouldn’t be a perjurer. That such an irrational approach even occurs to you reflects your hypocrisy, no one else’s. Now you’re done.

        2. Dan

          You conflate two levels of problems.

          Level 1: There’s no process here. Neither civil nor criminal. Regardless of standard, neither has been established. Comparing to other cases changes nothing about this case. No one can understand this for you.

          Level 2: Had there been a civil trial, it would be sufficient to establish a tort but not a crime. But that’s not sufficient, as you want to argue that a civil burden is close enough to establish a crime. It doesn’t work that way.

          Not to add to your pain, but your attempt to draw analogies to other cases that went through an actual process, from Mattress Girl to OJ, ignores the fact that there was no process here at all, not admin, not civil, not crim. None. There’s no comparison, regardless of your lack of principles.

  3. David

    Whether civil or criminal, there was an actual legal proceeding, where an accuser would be required to testify under oath and be cross examined. No matter how hard the idiots try, there is nothing about this bullshit that comes close to a legal proceeding, even if it’s civil. Thanks for shutting down these nutjobs.

  4. Black Bellamy

    Unfortunately I missed Morning Joe this morning because I hate it. But MSNBC will surely provide! So I go to the official source. I see three videos from this morning in their official feed:

    Biden to address assault allegation exclusively on Morning Joe 16:46

    Biden on allegation: No it is not true; it never never happened 1:12

    Morning Joe panel reacts to new Biden statement 7:58

    I watch the first one, nope just them talking for 9 minutes about how Biden is going to speak and then the rest of time listing all the women Trump assaulted and also pictures of the bus from the Grab ‘Em Tour. The second video is 60 seconds of the interviewer setting up and asking the question followed by 12 seconds of Biden going “nuh uh” and then next video plays where everyone just vomits all over themselves.

    The official source which publishes all the segments cut off the Biden interview at like 10%. Literally as soon as he says the “uh” part of “nuh uh” the tape ends.

    I was able to view a larger snippet that someone else saved. That edit was a very smart tactical move. It’s best no one remembers all the other stuff he said and the way he said it this morning.

      1. Tracie

        I watched Morning Joe (as I generally do each morning since quarantine) and watched the entire thing. It wasn’t even discussed that Much, short amount of time, then Went into covid19. And yes of course he denied.
        In fact they could have asked and been more aggressive with Biden and they were not. They let Biden off easy.

        1. SHG Post author

          I thought Mika did a decent job. She pushed, although a bit too much on the silly University of Delaware archives aspect, but she tried. What else was there to say? He disavowed the entirety of believe the women, the litany of excuses to rationalize away every failing and the demand that after the accusation is made, it be thoroughly investigated. But ultimately, it came down to his denial. That’s all there is.

          1. Tracie

            I Know, not much to say after he denied (which was predicted by most). I do wonder if someone told her to speak up after all these years. He ran for VP and it didn’t come up then. I guess 2008 wasn’t the right time to be discussing these things then (yes that’s sarcasm)

  5. B. McLeod

    Finally, an election will be determined by a rapier contest. We have arrived at the New Renaissance!

  6. Ahaz01

    Perhaps I have not been fully indoctrinated into the #MeToo movement, but I have a serious reservations about any accusation that is decades old. I don’t like it with Biden. I didn’t like it with Kavanaugh or Moore. How is anyone to defend themselves against the classic he said/she said situation? I’m not necessarily an absolutists but with cases like these and unless the accuser can present credible tangible evidence that an assault actually happened, there’s no reason to believe them.

  7. B. McLeod

    The beauty of “believe the woman” is that Biden is guilty either way. Even if he wasn’t rapey, he’s an evil, evil bastard for denying it. He is guilty of not believing the woman. His premise that he, uniquely, should get off for that because he CLAIMS to believe women although he does not in actual fact believe them is nonsensical. That isn’t how it works, Joe Biden. That isn’t how any of it works.

  8. Miles

    There really seems to be a wall that makes it impossible for the #MeToo true believers to overcome their ideology that if legal process isn’t used, they get a second try using their extra-legal process which is somehow just as valid (regardless of burden of proof and lack of due process) but doesn’t result in imprisonment. They just can’t grasp that this extra-legal process exists only in their fantasies.

      1. Miles

        The gloss over the significance of believing that a mob inquisition is somehow legitimate is stunning.

        1. SHG Post author

          That worst part is that the juxtaposition constrains me to make it sound as if real criminal trials are legit. We’ve gone from shredding the inadequacy of trials (which suck) to shredding the inadequacy of conviction without trials. How the hell do I end up in the position of valorizing trials just to show that mob inquisitions are worse, and still the woke can’t get it?

          1. PseudonymousKid

            Pops, this comment is perfect. I know you loathe belly-rubs, but goddamn if this doesn’t deserve them. You may be woke after all. I’m shocked.

  9. Mario Machado

    My favorite (and most effective thus far) way to shut down the moronic “Of course he did it! How could you think otherwise?” is to shrug and say “Well, I wasn’t there, so I couldn’t tell you for sure. Where you there?”

    I think I stole that one from you, thank you very much. Given the times, It’s a lot easier than “Well, there are these big marble buildings called courthouses, where they have trials…”

    1. SHG Post author

      That only works with people who are willing to think. They are becoming an increasingly rare breed.

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