The coming election is a referendum on Donald Trump, but it’d be nice to feel good about the alternative. I do.

Joe Biden was not my first, second, or third choice for the Democratic nomination. No matter. With the exception of rightwing apologist Tulsi Gabbard, any of the candidates would be an enormous upgrade over Trump. I’ve said before that I consider Trump a bad human being. He is unable to empathize with others, to tell the truth about even the smallest of things, or to do virtually anything without betraying an overwhelming level of narcissism. I won’t even go to into how he and his politics have damaged America. For better, or, as is almost inevitably the case with Trump, for worse, the election will be a referendum on the President.

Still, one would like to feel good about casting a ballot for former Vice President Joe Biden. In what was the first of several (so far) character attacks, Biden was accused of sexual assault by a former staffer, Tara Reade. Coming on the heels of the #MeToo movement, this accusation has predictably upset some Democratic supporters whose reflexive response of “I believe the woman” is now counterbalanced by the political need to get Trump the hell out of the White House.

They needn’t worry. You can look at Reade or you can look at Biden and come to the same conclusion: Reade is full of it. Here’s why I say that: 

  1. Reade had 27 years to publicly make her sexual assault allegation against Biden. Understandably, it takes time for some victims to come forward. Twenty-seven years strains belief. 
  2. Reade changed her allegations. Only in the last year did her charges against Biden turn into full-blown sexual assault. 
  3. There are numerous Biden staffers who absolutely and categorically contradict Reade’s claims. These aren’t statements like “I don’t remember.” These are statements like “I never heard or saw anything of the kind.”
  4. Reade filed no formal complaint with the Senate personnel office. She says that she did, but they don’t have one. Reade doesn’t have a copy either. 
  5. Reade can’t remember when the alleged encounter happened—not the date, the time, or the exact place. This amnesia makes it difficult for the accused to refute the allegation. 
  6. Reade lied about why she lost her job. 
  7. Reade was a fervent Bernie Sanders supporter, and while that’s not disqualifying, there are a number of Sanders’ supporters who are cultish and Trumpian in their burn-it-all-down populism. Based on her public statements, she seems to fit that category. The timing of her allegation, when Sanders’ campaign against Biden was at a crossroads, casts even more doubt as to the veracity. Reade is also on record as  pro-Putin and pro-Russia.

For anyone who wants to believe Reade’s claims, the problem is this: Even if one or two of the items above are incorrect, any one of the remaining items would leave her claims and credibility in ruins. That is to say any one of the above seven would be enough not to believe her. 

We turn then to Joe Biden. Several women have claimed that Biden made them uncomfortable with his physical behavior. Biden himself has said he hugs men and women, grabs shoulders as a way of making a personal connection, and otherwise invades others’ personal spaces. He’s said that he understands that standards have changed and has promised that he modify his behavior. Has this been a problem? Yes. There’s a power dynamic here that has unquestionably put some women in a position where they could not reasonably be expected to speak out. That is not okay. 

If I hug a friend, male or female, that person can tell me if I’ve crossed a line. In fact, being able to stand up for yourself and express your wishes is part of being an adult. But if I were to hug an employee, that’s an unbalanced relationship. That person could reasonably fear speaking out because I control their job. (Thus, as much as I like my employees, hugs are by request only and not initiated by me.) 

To return to the point: no one outside of Reade has ever accused Joe Biden of sexual assault. Ever. And that’s not the way sexual predators work. The likes of Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Donald Trump, and so forth have a queue of accusers. People will be known for who they are. If Joe Biden were a sexual predator, there’d be a line up of women standing ready to accuse him as well. There’s not, because he’s not. 

I do not and will not agree with Biden on every issue. But I do believe he’s a good person. Reade’s accusations and his handling of them has not altered my opinion. Joe Biden will have my vote.