Jonathan Chait, writing for New York, is right. Hunter Biden is a problem if his father wins the Democratic presidential nomination, in addition to the convenient red herring he’s provided Republicans fighting Donald Trump’s impeachment.
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Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server was a molehill blown up into a mountain, but it cost her the election, with the FBI’s help.
Hunter Biden, a troubled fellow, used his family name to score riches in Ukraine and China for a time. There’s no evidence it influenced government action and family dynasty opportunism is an old story in politics, however distasteful. Hell, Neil Bush is back in the news again, and not for his good works.
But Hunter Biden, with a messy personal life to boot, is a problem. The paternity case, however justified, is case in point.
If Biden impregnated a woman from Arkansas, as a DNA test apparently indicates he did, he should be made to support the child to the extent he’s able under the law. There’s a child support chart. His current circumstances are more relevant, however, than the money he might have once earned and blown (or maybe “blown”). His obligations to other children are a factor, too.
But I‘ve written before, though nobody else has, that I can’t shake the suspicion that the Arkansas woman’s lawyer is in pursuit of political goals as well as financial support for a year-old child. Why else stoke the case with press interviews all over the country. Why else file for Biden “admissions” on work in Ukraine? Why else hurry a deposition with Biden, now scheduled, according to a motion filed in Independence County today, for Dec. 23 in Little Rock.
And I’d still like to know how Clint Lancaster of Benton, coincidentally a published defender of Supreme Court candidate Barbara Webb, wife of Arkansas Republican Party chair Doyle Webb, wound up with an otherwise routine paternity case several counties away from his home turf. Coincidentally also, Lancaster’s wife, co-counsel in the paternity case, is Webb’s campaign treasurer.
If you doubt this case is about more, much more than proper support for a child in Independence County, get a load of the coverage in the Daily Mail tabloid. It’s more copy than even Frank Lockwood has dutifully produced for the Democrat-Gazette. It includes copies of Lancaster’s court filings (dubbed “exclusive” though they are readily available on-line.) And photos, lots of them, of Biden, the child’s mother, Lunden Roberts, including from Facebook pals and elsewhere.
Is it really about that little child in Independence County? Circuit Judge Don McSpadden says he intends to keep the proceeding in his court to that topic. In the Daily Mail and elsewhere? Don’t count on it.
In the waning years of the Obama administration, Hunter Biden, whose life was in a downward spiral, took a job with the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, which was transparently attempting to gain influence with Hunter’s father. The maneuver was unsuccessful for Burisma (which received no favorable treatment from the vice-president), fairly successful for Hunter (who received a hefty paycheck for minimal work), and has left a residue of low-grade sleaze that Joe Biden’s campaign has proven unable to scrape away. The dilemma this poses for Biden, and his party, is what — if anything — they can do about this problem.
So far, Biden’s responses to questioning on his son’s role, which range from challenging his interlocutor to a push-up contest to trailing off awkwardly, have hardly allayed the concern. But it’s difficult to think of a better response, since a true answer is extremely difficult for a politician to communicate. And the true answer is: Yeah, I screwed up, but it’s actually not that big of a deal.
But big deals will be made of the appearance of impropriety. Remember Clinton? He continues:
Mainstream reporters made a historic blunder by devoting far more attention to the email issue than it deserved, but this is an inevitable result of the incentive system in the mainstream press, which prioritizes critical coverage over passive transmission of a candidate’s chosen message. The email issue was the “toughest” subject reporters could cover, so they focused a lot of attention on it. The bizarre result of this coverage choice was that voters came away concluding Clinton’s mishandling of email protocol was a crime on roughly the same scale as Trump’s endless array of massively unethical and illegal acts. Clinton, by the way, apologized for using the private server, but the apology did not stop reporters from highlighting the issue.
Thus the Hunter Biden problem, no matter the parallels with Trump’s sleazy family members and associates.