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File photo, The New York Times / Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, during a March 12 news conference in Wilmington, Delaware.

Biden is on the record

By now, even those of us who've sequestered ourselves in our homes for weeks to shelter against COVID-19 know that Joe Biden himself — not just his campaign — has denied a former aide's claims that he sexually assaulted her 27 years ago. Biden emphatically says of Tara Reade's allegation: "This never happened."

But that's just the headline, and that's what most of us — especially in red Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama — heard or read. There's so much more.

Biden released a thoughtful, 1,000-word statement (read it on his Facebook page) that went far beyond even the extended sound-bite from his equally thoughtful but adamant interview and denial Friday under stern questioning on "Morning Joe" by Mika Brzezinski.

The former vice president and presumptive Democratic 2020 nominee never lost his cool. He was never angry or accusatory. He didn't claim a conspiracy, and he didn't insult his accuser. In fact, he said "I'm not going to question her motive. I don't know why she's saying this. I don't know why after 27 years all of a sudden this gets raised. I don't understand it. She has a right to say whatever she wants to say. But I have a right to say, look at the facts."

And he invited the Secretary of the Senate to ask the National Archive to search for any such record and make it available to the press. The Biden papers at the University of Delaware do not contain personnel files; the papers at the National Archive do.

In his statement Biden wrote: "While the details of these allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault are complicated, two things are not complicated. One is that women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and when they step forward they should be heard, not silenced. The second is that their stories should be subject to appropriate inquiry and scrutiny."

He continued, "Responsible news organizations should examine and evaluate the full and growing record of inconsistencies in her story, which has changed repeatedly in both small and big ways."

With an elegance we've not seen in presidential politics since Trump took office, Biden's statement was both a detailed answer to the allegation and an accounting of his political strides on women's issues. It provides a measure of a man who is both credible and presidential. What's more, it is, as once-conservative Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin called it, "a textbook example of effective campaign communication."

Over the past four or more years, more than a dozen women have leveled allegations against Trump, ranging from unwelcome advances to sexual harassment and assault. Trump denied the allegations, made fun of the women's looks, threatened to sue them, even paid hush money to two women who said they had consensual affairs with him.

And, no, if we believe Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh's sexual assault accuser Christine Blasey Ford, we don't have to believe Tara Reade. Republicans and Kavanaugh himself refused — repeat, refused — to allow a full investigation of charges. Biden instead offered up documents and invited vetting.

 

Do us a favor though ...

In praise of respected columnists: This one goes to Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell who on Thursday wrote a piece headlined, "We're all Zelenskyy now."

It took us a minute to recall who Zelenskyy was — the Ukrainian president with whom Donald Trump's phone call prompted Trump's impeachment. The column begins like this:

"Do us a favor though: Before we provide lifesaving equipment, praise the president.

"Do us a favor though: Before we rescue the U.S. Postal Service, raise postage prices on the president's perceived political enemies.

"Do us a favor though: Before we assist states in fiscal crisis, reopen your economies when we say so. Oh, and hand over your immigrants."

There was more. But you get the idea.

A crisis here, a crisis there, any crisis anywhere to Trump is just another opportunity for a shakedown.

One that he'll deny and call "perfect."

 

COVID-19 and the stock market

If you've been afraid lately to look at your 401k, just keep the blinders on.

The Associated Press reported Friday morning that stocks were falling again on Wall Street as major U.S. companies provided details of how the coronavirus is disrupting their businesses.

Despite orders from home-bound Americans, Amazon sank 5.8% after its reported profit for the latest quarter fell short of Wall Street's forecasts.

Amazon said it "will spend billions of dollars this quarter to pay workers overtime, buy masks for them and make other investments."

What? You might recall that it was just a month ago that news outlets were reporting that Amazon workers were walking out on their jobs because COVID-19 cases were popping up in the warehouses and they had no masks. That happened at about the same time that Amazon announced it would stop selling N95 respirators, paper surgical masks, face shields, surgical gowns and gloves and large-volume containers of sanitizers to general customers. Instead Amazon said it would "prioritize the sale" of those things to hospitals and governments that could "sign up to make purchases through a new portal on Amazon's business site."

 

Isn't capitalism wonderful?

On Friday, The Associated Press said that because of its gigantic value, Amazon alone accounted for one seventh of the entire loss of the S&P 500.

Blame it all on COVID-19? We don't think so.

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