FILE — In this March 18, 2019, file photo, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer listens to Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., in Clawson, Mich. Whitmer has ordered a review of Michigan auto insurers’ use of non-driving factors to set premiums and their pricing of policies that coordinate medical coverage with drivers’ health insurance. The Democrat’s move Wednesday comes as Republican lawmakers prepare to soon unveil legislation designed to reduce what on average are the country’s highest car insurance rates. Whitmer says the state must take a “hard look” at how insurers set rates to ensure their practices are lawful. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
In 2013, Gretchen Whitmer, a rising Democratic star in Michigan, revealed to her fellow lawmakers that she was a victim of rape. The revelation, according to the Huffington Post article written about that moment, was made after a fiery speech she gave during a legislative debate on “abortion insurance.”
I’m about to tell you something that I’ve not shared with many people in my life. But over 20 years ago I was a victim of rape. And thank God it didn’t result in a pregnancy, because I can’t imagine going through what I went through and then having to consider what to do about an unwanted pregnancy from an attacker. And as a mother with two girls, the thought that they would ever go through something like I did keeps me up at night.
I thought this was all behind me. You know how tough I can be. The thought and the memory of that still haunts me. If this were law then and I had become pregnant I would not be able to have coverage because of this. How extreme, how extreme does this measure need to be? I’m not the only woman in our state that has faced that horrible circumstance. I am not enjoying talking about it. It’s something I’ve hidden for a long time. But I think you need to see the face of the women that you are impacting by this vote today. I think you need to think of the girls that we’re raising and what kind of a state we want to be where you would put your approval on something this extreme.
Since that moment, Whitmer’s story has been a part of her legacy. It was mentioned during her 2018 candidacy for Governor of Michigan, during which time we also saw a massive debate on sexual assault as it was the focus of accusations against Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
The Trump nominee was the focus of several accusations, though the one accusation that everyone focused on more than the others was the accusation of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford – the first one to accuse Kavanaugh.
Whitmer announced on Twitter that she was in full support of, and believed in, the accusations made by Dr. Ford.
I believe Dr. Ford
— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) September 27, 2018
In fact, the mantra to come out of that moment in history was “Believe All Women,” the idea that women who come forward are never doing so out of political opportunity but because there is something truthful in what they say and we must pay attention and believe them.
Whitmer has since become the focus of political support and ire in her home state as many workers demand she re-open the state for business. At the same time, she is also a national co-chair of the presidential campaign for Joe Biden and on the shortlist of potential vice presidential candidates – all female candidates, as Biden promised during his last debate against Bernie Sanders.
Biden, though, faces a similar accusation as Kavanaugh did in 2018. A former staffer named Tara Reade filed a report accusing Joe Biden of sexual assault.
If we are to believe all women, and if Whitmer, as a survivor of rape, believes all women, then she should be seriously questioning her work with the Biden campaign and her name being on that list of candidates. So, when CNN asked her about it, did she support Reade as she supported Dr. Ford?
Whitmer, a national co-chair of Biden’s campaign and on his shortlist of vice presidential picks, was asked on NPR whether the allegation gives her any pause about supporting Biden. Whitmer has publicly discussed having been sexually assaulted while in college.
“Well, I think women should be able to tell their stories. I think that it is important that these allegations are vetted, from the media to beyond. And I think that, you know, it is something that no one takes lightly,” Whitmer said. “But it is also something that is, you know, personal. And so it’s hard to give you greater insight than that, not knowing more about the situation.”
So, do we believe all women, or not?
I find Reade’s allegations to be as suspect as Dr. Ford’s. Timing is everything, and these accusations come to light when it’s clear he is the Democratic nominee for President? It is no different than the timing of the Dr. Ford accusations, which were not only made when he was nominated but held by Dianne Feinstein’s office until the most opportune time to release it.
If we, as Americans, believe in innocence until proven guilty, then Biden should get the same treatment we demanded Kavanaugh get. But, when it comes to consistency and integrity, we must hold accountable those who presumed Kavanaugh’s guilt automatically but want to give Biden the benefit of the doubt.
Governor Whitmer, if she wants to be seen as a woman of integrity, should publicly demand that all information be brought forth immediately, that there be public hearings on this, and that we get to the truth. But if being the co-chair of a national presidential campaign and being a potential vice presidential pick is more important, then she won’t change her rhetoric at all. She’ll just be another Democrat politician who will only engage in the dramatics when it’s politically convenient, and not when real justice could be on the line.
That’s how everyone else will see it, anyway.