Joe Biden has gotten this far by surviving. He ran an uninspired, dreary campaign, yet his longstanding connections to the Democratic mainstream and African-American voters ultimately propelled him to victory. Now, facing an allegation of sexual misconduct, Biden is weathering a new kind of crisis: one that requires a bold, concrete response. Tara Reade’s allegation—that Biden sexually assaulted her in the capital in the mid 1990s—isn’t going away; if anything, the story is only getting more and more concrete. Can he somehow quell skittish Democrats and incensed activists? And if he can’t, what does a path forward even look like?
We will begin to see the Biden campaign’s answer to these questions tomorrow morning, when Biden makes an appearance on MSNBC’s early-hours gabfest, Morning Joe. MSNBC PR is hyping the interview as Biden’s chance to “respond for the first time to the recent allegation of sexual assault.”
Expect some softballs. Morning Joe’s hosts, Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, are documented uncomfortable bedfellows to the MeToo movement. From attempting to professionally rehabilitate their friend Mark Halperin, to excusing Tom Brokaw’s accused misconduct, to gesturing incoherently at a “better way” to atonement for men accused of sexual misbehavior, the two have made their priorities known. It’s probably the coziest place for Biden to address this controversy.
But will it be enough? It’s impossible to say, but Biden’s professional future (to say nothing of his legacy) depends on his ability to address these allegations and somehow exonerate himself. His campaign’s current strategy—ignore and lie—has proven inadequate. We’ll see if the man himself can do any better.