For reasons probably having to do variously with male lust, human nature and political dirty tricks, allegations of sexual misconduct seem to surface predictably when a political candidate rises to the top of the heap. Often these allegations are decades old, but they get reheated if it looks as though a man may advance to high office.

Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.

Lately, Joe Biden has been dogged by allegations made by Tara Reade, a woman who worked on Biden’s Senate staff briefly in 1993, charging that he tried to force himself on her. In a classic she-said/he-said, Biden denies he did any such thing. But Good Old Joe has a reputation for being a little touchy-feely (which he has apologized for), so the far right is hoping the charge will stick, especially since the former vice president is leading Trump in virtually every poll.

Republican trolls cry “double standard,” because they don’t think Democrats are condemning Biden’s alleged misconduct the way they did Donald Trump’s and Brett Kavanaugh’s. I’d argue that constitutes a double standard on their part. Since they defended Trump and Kavanaugh, they should be defending Biden now.

Trump won the election despite two dozen women alleging sexual misconduct, paying off prostitutes, cheating on his pregnant wife and bragging about grabbing women by their genitals, and Kavanaugh won a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court despite multiple allegations of sexual assault, so Republicans clearly do not care about women and have essentially established the precedent that sexual misconduct is not a disqualification for a Republican.

Bill Clinton, to the contrary, shows Democrats have established the precedent that accusation equals conviction. You’re guilty if you’re accused. In this #MeToo era, we liberals want to “believe the women,” but comic Bill Maher made an excellent point when he argued recently that there is nothing “noble” about believing every accusation of sexual impropriety that every woman makes.

“It makes you gullible and leaves us with the world where Republicans don’t care about this stuff,” said Maher on his HBO show. “So it’s just a unilateral weapon that is used only against Democrats.”

Distilling the partisan issue most succinctly, Maher added, “Trump rides the bus with Billy Bush. We throw Al Franken under it.”

Trump bragged to Bush in the infamous Access Hollywood tape – that most of us thought would destroy his election chances – “I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” Franken, the former Democratic senator from Minnesota, resigned his seat after eight women alleged he had groped or kissed them. Franken asked for an inquiry and didn’t get it.

Tara Reade’s allegations deserve to be investigated, assuming an impartial investigator can be found. But they don’t deserve to derail a presidential campaign just on her say-so.

The main reason I am predisposed to be skeptical of Tara Reade is her bizarre fixation on murderous Russian strong man Vladimir Putin, whom she portrayed as a hottie and a hero in a 2018 essay.

“President Putin has an alluring combination of strength with gentleness,” she wrote. “His sensuous image projects his love for life, the embodiment of grace while facing adversity. It is evident that he loves his country, his people and his job.”

This sicko sentimentality for a brutal dictator coupled with the timing of Reade’s allegations make me suspect that her charges are just another example of Russian interference in American elections, one more thing Republicans don’t really care about.

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