When Jake Tapper asked Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer to explain her belief in Christine Blasey Ford and not Tara Reade...

... she really got desperate. Let's look at the transcript from last Sunday's "State of the Union." Tapper asks a completely fair and well-stated question:
TAPPER:  You have said that you believe Vice President Biden. I want to compare that to 2018, when you said you believed Dr. Christine Blasey Ford after she accused now Justice Brett Kavanaugh of assault. Kavanaugh also, like Biden, categorically denied that accusation. And Blasey Ford, to be honest, she did not have the contemporaneous accounts of her view of what happened that Tara Reade does. You have spoken movingly about how you're a survivor — survivor of assault yourself. Why do you believe Biden, and not Kavanaugh? Are they not both entitled to the same presumption of innocence, regardless of their political views?

WHITMER: You know, Jake, as a survivor and as a feminist, I will say this. We need to give people an opportunity to tell their story. But then we have a duty to vet it. And just because you're a survivor doesn't mean that every claim is equal. It means we give them the ability to make their case, and the other side as well, and then to make a judgment that is informed. I have read a lot about this current allegation. I know Joe Biden, and I have watched his defense. And there's not a pattern that goes into this. And I think that, for these reasons, I'm very comfortable that Joe Biden is who he says he is. He's — and you know what? And that's all I'm going to say about it. I really resent the fact that, every time a case comes up, all of us survivors have to weigh in. It is reopening wounds. And it is — take us at our word, ask us for our opinion, and let's move on.
Let's move on?! The question does ask her to answer as a survivor, and she began her answer "as a survivor and as a feminist." She didn't object to being asked as a survivor until after she'd answered, though she did begin by expanding her status from "survivor" to "survivor and... feminist."

But after quickly answering, she registered her objection: She resents that her survivor status makes her a target of questions about sex assaults. It reopens the old wound. But she does want to be asked. She wants to get the question, to answer it quickly, and to be believed as a commentator on the things that happened to other people: "take us at our word, ask us for our opinion, and let's move on."

I certainly believe it's her opinion that Kavanaugh did what Blasey Ford said he did and Biden did not do what Tara Reade said he did, but why is that her opinion? Is it only because of what political side Whitmer is on? If so, I can understand telling us to move on. Don't look too closely at that.

Notice how Whitmer stopped herself in the middle of her explanation of why Biden's denial is more believable than Kavanaugh's: "I'm very comfortable that Joe Biden is who he says he is. He's — and you know what?" She decided not to go on about her reason why but to switch to attacking Tapper for asking the question. You know what? I resent the question! Let's move on!

That seems to give the game away. Her reason was that she's on Biden's side. It's like the way Bill Clinton was treated back in the 90s — complete with the old "move on" catchphrase.

Tapper defended himself:
TAPPER: Well, just for the record, the reason I'm asking you is because you're the only Democrat on the show today, not because you're a survivor, and not because you're a woman. But thank you so much for your time. I want to...
Well, he did present her survivor status as a basis for authority on whom to believe. He said "You have spoken movingly about how you're a survivor... of assault yourself: Why do you believe Biden."  She may have been "the only Democrat on the show today," but why was she  the only Democrat on the show today? Looking at the whole transcript, I think it was because of the protests against the lockdown in Michigan. I can see how maybe she felt ambushed by that extra question.

She responded to his self-defense:
WHITMER: Yes. No, and it's not a criticism of you, Jake. It's not a criticism of you. You're doing your job, and I appreciate that. I'm just sharing, I think, some of the simmering anger that we survivors have every time that we have got to confront this from someone else's behavior that we weren't a party to, that we weren't even a part of the reality in the moment. What I think is this. We owe it to every woman who has a story to listen to that story, and then to vet that story, ask the questions and be critical thinkers, and then make a judgment, based on all of those pieces. I have done that in this instance. And I will tell you this. I don't believe that it's consistent with the Joe Biden that I know. And I do believe Joe, and I support Joe Biden.
There is no further question, but here are the questions I would ask:

Does it all depend on who you know? If someone you know is accused, you disbelieve the accuser, but if someone you don't know is accused, you believe the accuser? Or does that depend on whether you like that person you know or the person you don't know? Seriously, what is the rule going forward as these accusations arise — especially in the context of a nomination for a high office, where there is the temptation to try to find a shortcut to bring someone down? We can't make it easier and easier to destroy a candidate, and it can't work — it shouldn't work — to stand up for the candidates we support and to participate in the destruction of the candidates we oppose, so don't you need to reexamine your position on Brett Kavanaugh if you want fair-minded people to accept your vouching for Joe Biden? You say we need to listen to every story, vet that story, and be critical thinkers, but where is the critical thinking in your distinction between Brett Kavanaugh and Joe Biden?

ADDED: Rereading this post, I noticed a point where Whitmer deviated from supporting Biden and said something that I think is properly respectful of the problem of due process to the accused. In her response to Tapper's self-defensiveness, after she rejected the idea that she was criticizing him, Whitmer talked about the "simmering anger" that survivors feel as they are called upon to look at the evidence and weigh in on whether the accused is guilty or innocent. She doesn't like having "to confront this from someone else's behavior that we weren't a party to, that we weren't even a part of the reality in the moment."

I'm not sure exactly what that meant. Maybe it's the idea of reopening the wound. To judge what happened you have to hear the evidence and imagine the entire scene, the events, and put yourself inside of it and to use your own personal experience to form a belief about whether it is true. That's a painful ordeal, and those who impose it on the survivor ought to be more aware of what they are doing.

Maybe it's the idea that fact-finding is truly difficult. It's difficult in a courtroom trial, with all of the safeguards of cross-examining witnesses under oath and a judge excluding improper evidence and meticulously instructing a sworn-in jury about the legal standards. And it's all the more difficult when we've got allegations passed along in newspaper articles and amplified by political partisans. Whitmer may have been saying — just in that one sentence — that she is in no position to give the accused the due process he deserves.

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