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Saturday, May 9, 2020

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Just as the pressure on Joe Biden to finally address the sexual assault allegation against him was reaching a crescendo, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee received the inevitable endorsement of his party’s foremost apologist for sexual misconduct.

Even Mr. Biden himself struggled to sit through the charade — which is poetic, considering how many Americans have been bored to sleep by his stumbling attempts to conduct virtual campaign events. It wouldn’t be surprising if Mr. Biden had nodded off, though. His guest was Hillary Clinton, who evidently still can’t command much of an audience — or even the attention of the candidate she’s endorsing.


Wisconsinites famously rejected Mrs. Clinton in 2016, reciprocating her undisguised disdain for Badger State voters, whom she didn’t visit once during the general election campaign. Of course, Mrs. Clinton also suffered several other upset victories in states where she did campaign heavily. If anything, the 2016 election demonstrated that the Clinton brand has become too toxic to win a national election.

So why would Mr. Biden decide to trot out Hillary’s endorsement now?

Perhaps it’s because Mr. Biden is currently facing a serious allegation of sexual assault — one that he can no longer avoid addressing. When you’re a Democrat who stands accused of sexual misconduct, there’s apparently no one better to stand by you than the woman who stood by her man through three decades of alleged sexual misconduct. 

Juanita Broaddrick, who accused President Clinton of raping her in 1978, was one of the few people actually watching Hillary endorse Mr. Biden. “Who better to support Joe Biden than someone with not only years, but decades of experience in enabling a serial sexual predator?” she mused afterward.

Beyond the bad optics and the poor execution, Mrs. Clinton’s endorsement mainly served to remind people in Wisconsin and other states that used to make up the Democrats’ vaunted “Blue Wall” just how bad Hillary had been as a candidate. During the event, for instance, she strongly implied that the coronavirus pandemic is affecting women more than men because most “health care workers” are women. As a factual matter, though, she’s just wrong — significantly higher percentage of men have died of COVID-19 than women. But that’s not really the point. The episode reminds us that Hillary’s instinct as a devotee of identity politics to divide Americans.

She also had the gall to claim that President Trump is not a “real President” — it’s unlikely that she’s forgotten that she had to personally concede the 2016 election to him. It’s a rehash of the same coping strategy she’s used ever since that historic night: Pretend that she actually won, as she did last year when she claimed, falsely, that as many as 200,000 Wisconsinites were turned away from the polls before they could vote for her.

Throughout her self-indulgent endorsement, Mr. Biden just sat there nodding (or nodding off) and patronizing her, just as he did in the White House. He had no choice, because he thinks he needs Hillary, but bottom line is that nothing has changed for the Democrats. The Joe Biden candidacy is a mere rehash of the Hillary Clinton candidacy that Wisconsinites rejected in 2016, with all its double standards, China coddling, free-trade fundamentalism and obsession with identity politics.

His political instincts as well as his policy position remind one of Hillary. His response to the search for the truth among possibly incriminating official documents could have been taken from Hillary’s playbook. While Hillary notoriously had her private email servers physically destroyed to prevent investigators from disproving her claim that she mainly used the servers for messages about yoga, Mr. Biden sent investigators on a wild goose chase when they sought documentation that might substantiate Tara Reade’s claims.

After first insisting that if Ms. Reade’s complaint existed, it would not be among his personal papers at the University of Delaware, but at the National Archives. The Archives denied possessing the relevant files, so Mr. Biden sent a letter asking the secretary of the Senate to release them, only to be told they weren’t there either, but might well be with Mr. Biden’s personal papers in Delaware after all. Since then, Mr. Biden has adamantly refused to allow access to them … just as Hillary would have done.

So keeping Hillary on retainer makes sense. She has experience handling the sort of scandal he is facing. There’s no way he can coordinate his own defense against his former staffer’s sexual assault accusation, and neutralizing sexual misconduct allegations against prominent Democrats without the advice of an expert and, make no mistake, this is one thing Hillary has always genuinely excelled at.

• Robert W. Kasten is a former U.S. senator from Wisconsin.


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