Are the Attacks on Senator Warren’s Credibility Motivated by Sexism?
I did some digging and realized that Jessica Valenti might be right
Just as it seemed the American public had forgotten about Senator Warren’s debunked claims that she was Native American after taking a DNA test new allegations of her dishonesty have surfaced. To start, Harvard Law Professor Leo Gottlieb refuted her claims of discrimination for a pregnancy as the reason she was terminated from her teaching position — minutes from the school board show that she was offered a two year contract extension before she resigned two months later. Gen contributor, Jessica Valenti’s latest piece suggests that if you believe this latest allegation you “believe sexists”. It got me wondering — are the allegations about Warren’s dishonesty a result of her gender identity or are the result of the fact that she’s running for president.
Depending on which poll you prefer Senator Warren is in a dead heat with Vice President Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination. To test Valenti’s thesis I decided to review the allegations of dishonesty made against the former vice president — a privileged elderly white male — as compared with those levied against Warren. If you’re a millenial you won’t recall the time that Joe Biden was forced to withdraw from the presidential race after his repeated dishonesty was put on display for the American people.
The media started digging into Biden’s past when his college and law school classmates starting coming forward with stories of academic dishonesty. Biden claimed that he earned three degrees in college (he received a single B.A.), he also claimed he received a full scholarship to law school (he did not), and he further claimed that he graduated in the “top half” of his class (he actually graduated 76th in a class of 85). When Biden was confronted with these false claims (and others) by a reporter he famously said, “I think I have a much higher I.Q. than you do.” He eventually admitted to his “mistakes” and he eventually withdrew from the race.
Over time the media continued to dig in and discovered further examples of Biden’s dishonesty including an incident in law school where Biden was caught plagiarizing five pages of a fifteen page paper. After an investigation the law school found him guilty and as a result he was given an F in his legal methods course — Biden was allowed to remain in law school and eventually graduated near the bottom of his class. But sadly, Biden didn’t learn his lesson.
During his presidential campaign he was caught plagiarizing the speeches of other great leaders — all without a single attribution. The most famous incident was his theft of British Labour Party Neil Kinnock speech AND biography. Just four months earlier Kinnock gave this speech:
Why am I the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? [Pointing to his wife in the audience:] Why is Glenys the first woman in her family in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? Was it because all our predecessors were thick?
Thankfully Biden remembered to change the names when gave Kinnock’s speech:
I started thinking as I was coming over here, why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go to a university? [Pointing to his wife in the audience:] Why is it that my wife who is sitting out there in the audience is the first in her family to ever go to college? Is it because our fathers and mothers were not bright? Is it because I’m the first Biden in a thousand generations to get a college and a graduate degree that I was smarter than the rest?
When Biden was confronted on multiple occasions he claimed received a videotape of the speech and permission from Denis Healey of the British Labor Party. When Healey’s office made it clear the story wasn’t true Biden reluctantly acknowledged that he had lied on both counts. Eventually Biden even admitted the claims he made regarding his wife’s attendance at college were also untrue. The New York Times continued to review tape of Biden’s previous speeches and determined that Biden regularly lifted speeches from John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Hubert Humphrey. Biden defended his actions by explaining it was “ludicrous” to expect a politician to attribute quotations to their authors — Biden made the same argument in law school.
Most recently Biden has been accused of various abuses of power including helping his son raise more than a billion dollars from the Chinese government and obtain a lucrative board seat from a Ukrainian oil company. Biden was filmed explaining that he never spoke to his son about his dealings in the Ukraine despite evidence that he was confronted by President Obama, Secretary of State Kerry, and various EU anti-corruption officials. Even more damning just last week a photo of Biden and an official from his son’s Ukrainian oil company playing golf was released. Over and over Biden has been caught lying to the American people — and I don’t think it is because he is an elderly white male.
That being said, Jessica might have a point. Warren’s lies are significantly less damning that Biden’s — by an order of magnitude — and yet if you simply Google “elizabeth warren lies” and “joe biden lies” Google provides more than 40 million results for Warren and only 20 million results for Biden. The truth is that both Senator Warren and Vice President Biden have been caught lying to the American people regularly since the 70s and their lies have been extensively covered — but as Jessica points out, Warren’s lies seem to have garnered a LOT more coverage — perhaps because she identifies as female. My advice? More coverage of Biden’s lies… We must reach parity in our attacks.