President Joe Biden now has his own documents scandal to sort through.
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Apparently, classified documents from Biden’s vice presidency ended up in the possession of a Biden-supported think tank, the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.
Joe Biden and Those Documents: What To Think?
I have written about various documents/information scandals in the past, arguing that they offer insights into modern tendencies to favor partisanship over principle.
I thought it was odd how, generally speaking, liberals weren’t all that worried that Clinton had emailed sensitive State Department information from her personal email account yet were outraged that Donald Trump had stored classified documents in his home; conversely, I found it odd that conservatives were fuming over Clinton’s emails (lock her up!) yet believed Trump’s document mishandling was no big deal, probably a witch hunt.
Well, the fact patterns between the Clinton email scandal and the Trump document scandal are close enough that you should probably either be upset or nonplussed by both – or by neither.
Not one or the other.
Adherence to principle dictates that you either think that the mishandling of sensitive information by prominent officeholders is a big deal or you don’t. If you’re splitting hairs to justify being upset about one incident and chill about another, you’re probably operating from a purely partisan perspective. That’s not to say that there’s no value in hair-splitting or in nuance or context. And I don’t mean to lecture or sound self-righteous or like I’m the only one capable of nonpartisan political analysis.
But come on, man.
The discrepant coverage/opinions over similar information mishandling are rich.
And now Joe Biden has his own unfolding documents mishandling scandal. Of course, news outlets and many people who were just moments ago livid about Trump’s document scandal are pretty chill about Biden’s (and vice versa), quickly pointing out that the situations are different; that the situations only resemble each other in superficial terms.
Reactions to Biden’s Document Revelation
Mainstream (liberal) outlets are hustling to make sure we all know the Biden situation is totally different from the Trump situation.
“Now a cursory review of the facts reveals several obvious differences between the circumstances surrounding the Trump case and the documents found in Biden’s old office,” POLITICO wrote, “starting with the fact that the Biden papers were, according to Sauber’s account, handed over immediately and willingly to the Archives after they were discovered on Nov. 2.”
So, according to POLITICO, the “obvious” (obvious!) difference between Trump and Joe Biden – the reason why Biden’s transgressions are benign – is that once Joe Biden was discovered to have mishandled classified documents, he handed the documents back over to the proper authorities.
It’s funny because Trump’s reluctance to turn over the documents he had stored in Mar-a-Lago wasn’t really the main issues of liberal complaints last summer. The main distress of liberal complaints was the simple fact that Trump had taken classified documents from the White House, that Trump may have put U.S. national security interests and assets at risk.
Okay, that perspective is fine – but you’d better apply the same perspective and the same standard to Biden now. Don’t mitigate Biden’s offense because he cooperated once his transgression was discovered. Biden likely committed a nearly identical transgression.
And similarly, if you were one of those dudes revving his pick-up outside Mar-a-Lago saying Trump was a victim and that he had done nothing wrong and he should be left alone – then maybe you should cut Biden some slack now. Don’t be like POLITCO’s Josh Gerstein, writing that Biden’s transgressions aren’t really as bad as Trump’s because Biden had “fewer documents at stake” and that Trump had a lot of documents at his personal residence (rather than a think tank) and that it’s “hard to argue you don’t know what’s lying around your house if there’s a lot of it” and that it’s not unusual “for small numbers of emails or documents that are classified to get mixed in with unclassified records.”
Come on, man!
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken.