Ah, the American open road. What’s better than barreling down sun-soaked asphalt, windows open, wind rushing in the cab, six-cylinder engine firing off, speedometer needle pushing its limit, sharp irradiate rays from heaven bouncing off Aviators, Van Halen (David Lee Roth-era) bursting out the radio, a comely girl in hiked-up, tight-fitting attire lounging in the passenger seat, the pungent aroma of acetone wafting from your burn-blemished crack pipe.
Just a scene of an all-American boy—ingesting a Schedule II narcotic in a NoVA residential neighborhood. Also he was 47-years-old and the son of a then-ex-vice-president (and soon to be “Big Guy” in the White House). The living embodiment of patriotic wholesomeness!
The latest drop of debauched Hunter Biden pictures—one including a 2018 still of the president’s son hotcaking while driving—proves yet again the futility of Republicans using the president’s wastrel son as an election booster. Curt Mills already dismissed the GOP’s cottage “hunt-Hunter” industry as a failure that makes the “broader Biden enterprise… look too cool.” The Kennedy dynasty lost none of its mystique against Joseph Kennedy’s mafia-ties, bootlegging, and election-rigging. Then son-and-president John’s womanizing and abuse, along with Teddy’s involuntary manslaughter. And now grandson Robert Kennedy’s tree-hugging, conspiratorial campaign. Camelot keeps its luster, even if it remains an avowed enemy of the deep state.
The Biden brood keeps the same cool stride.
The steady drip of compromising Hunter Biden news—whether more photos of him in in the buff or playing john to a minx, using his father’s name to shake down Sino businessmen, or, as was revealed over Fourth of July weekend, the discovery of honker dust at the White House—should be a rolling scandal for the president. That’s what Republicans are banking on. Between punctuated production of the prodigal son’s sordid shenanigans and the House Oversight Committee uncovering preferential charge treatment by the DOJ, the GOP is casting its lot on all-Hunter-all-time coverage torpedoing Biden ahead of the next presidential contest.
It seems a sure bet—even if Republican voters come under Trump’s siren song again, one candidate’s legal troubles can be pitted against another’s. Both the Biden and Trump campaign store can hawk Edwin Edwins-era “Vote for the Crook. It’s Important” bumper stickers.
Two crooked clans facing off for the most powerful political position in the land sounds like a blockbuster drama, or a highly produced mafia miniseries, or even Tammany Hall-era NYC. Too bad Biden vs. Trump 2.0 has all the graft with none of the flair—it’s a retread of an election season no self-respecting American wants to remember. And no criminal wrongdoing is budging that bleak picture.
Trump’s approvals continue to inch up amid indictments. Even the scrounger son Hunter stalks the White House grounds, looking blub-eyed and sweaty like Ray Liotta in the “Goodfellas” helicopter scene, Democrats are unconcerned. Why should the party of impropriety feel otherwise? Americans revere crooks, scumbags, arrivistes, chancers, and picaresque strivers. Hip hop is the most popular music genre in the country, and it’s not because its leading lights like Lil Wayne and Kendrick Lamar encourage listeners to get good grades, respect their elders, earn a steady salary, and raise a respectful family.
Professional GOP hatchet men seem to forget their party’s underlying belief in all their Hunter haranguing: the inextricable primordial bond of family. What’s the expectation among Republicans ad-men in all their Hunter grime-slinging? That the president forsake his own son? To disown him, order the Secret Service to lock him away in his LA art studio? Is that living “family values”?
New York Times columnist and failed gubernatorial candidate Nicholas Kristof was roundly mocked by conservative Twitter for calling the “Hunter Biden saga” a story of “a determined parent with unconditional love,” not “presidential corruption.” It’s a false dichotomy—Joe Biden can be both a devoted father and a payola pocketing president. By all counts, the former is unreservedly true. Hunter is the only surviving member of Joe’s original nuclear family—his first wife and daughter died in a car accident just after Biden was elected senator. His sons, Hunter and “Beau,” survived. The non-crack toking, overachieving Delaware Attorney General and National Guardsman son tragically fell to brain cancer. Hunter remains the boy who lived, embodying a lost world to his father.
No voter with kids could ever fault President Biden’s fatherly devotion. Americans just don’t believe in the Chinese parenting proverb “a child’s wrongdoing is a parent’s failure.” Republicans are barking up the wrong branch of the family tree trying to cleave father from son. They are, however, missing a more fruitful offshoot—the shameless and deliberate shunning of Hunter’s illegitimate daughter, Navy Joan Roberts. The president refuses to abandon his parasitic progeny, but also willfully ignores his own granddaughter. The Times reports that White House aides are ordered to repeat the lie that Biden only has six grandchildren. Ordered by whom isn’t clear, though First Lady Edna is the likeliest culprit. Even Maureen Dowd, a columnist who has Joe’s ear, is not so subtly reminding him “it’s seven grandkids, Mr. President.”
Joe Biden’s selectively tight family ties look a lot looser next to an abandoned grandchild. Hunter may have settled a child support dispute case with the mother of his unacknowledged daughter. But the case of veritable child neglect could undermine the president’s image of a loyal father. More than a few Republican operatives are openly hinting at a kill shot: Trump inviting little Navy to watch her paternal grandfather, the president of the United States, debate his case for reelection.
The idea of using a small child as a pawn to make political hay sounds grotesque, the lowest of low sweep kicks. But when’s that ever stopped the King of Debt? For the Bidens, blood is thicker than the cheap water of vote-getting. But even the family—Robert Nisbett’s “real molecule of society, the key link of the social chain of being”—isn’t safe from politics.
I ask if nothing was sacred anymore if I wasn’t too scared of the answer.