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The Real Hunter Biden Problem

Hunter Biden. Screenshot from YouTube.
Hunter Biden. Screenshot from YouTube.

Will Hunter Biden hurt his father’s re-election chances? Republicans in Congress are trying to make political hay out of various accusations against the president’s son, Hunter Biden. There’s little reason to think that what they’re doing will ever have political consequences for President Joe Biden

The Hunter Biden Drama Show

The House Oversight Committee is planning a full-court press against Hunter Biden, the son of the president.

Earlier this week, the committee’s chairman, James Comer (R-KY), subpoenaed the bank records of three of Hunter Biden’s associates, at Bank of America. According to CNN, the subpoena was revealed by the committee’s ranking member, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), in a letter. 

The subpoena includes “all financial records” going back to 2009. The subpoenas went to John Robinson “Rob” Walker and other business associates of Hunter Biden. The committee is also reviewing Suspicious Activity Reports “sent by banks to the Treasury Department alerting of potential criminal activity involving President Biden’s family,” according to the New York Post. 

The younger Biden has recently been fighting back against some of the media attacks against him.

Per CNN, his attorneys have recently “fired off a spate of letters urging state and federal agencies to investigate several individuals involved in disseminating the contents of his laptop.”

Scrutiny on Hunter Biden has centered on his years of doing business in foreign countries, his history of drug addiction, and that laptop, which contained various embarrassing photographs. The laptop was also at the center of a huge controversy shortly before the 2020 election, when the New York Post obtained the laptop, and social media giants briefly blocked links to the story. 

One major question related to media coverage of Hunter Biden is whether it will have political blowback on his father. And the answer, so far, has been a solid no. 

Should Joe Biden Be Worried? 

None of the controversies involving Hunter prevented his father from winning the Democratic nomination or the presidency. While Twitter and Facebook did suppress the laptop story for a matter of days this does not, contrary to popular belief, mean that no one heard about the laptop story. In fact, the laptop and other Hunter Biden stories were all over the media throughout the 2020 campaign. He was even the topic of a long story in The New Yorker, titled “Will Hunter Biden Jeopardize His Father’s Campaign,” in the summer of 2019, around when his father announced his candidacy. 

The answer, it appears to be clear, was no.

The idea of someone having an adult son or daughter who has battled addiction, and engaged in embarrassing behavior in connection with that, is very familiar to many Americans, across the political spectrum.

If anything, it has been more likely to cause voters to sympathize with the president, rather than the opposite. Such hammering of a troubled man who has battled addiction — and has no role in his father’s administration — can also come across as cruel and bullying. 

Biden has not, it appears, been dinged by the implication that he, as vice president, pushed for the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor because he was investigating Hunter Biden’s activities in that country, mostly because it isn’t true. Former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment, involving the phone call to President Zelensky, also centered on an attempt to force an investigation into the Ukraine ties of Joe and Hunter Biden. 

None of this has succeeded or redounded to the political benefit of Republicans. And that’s likely because the people who care about the complex minutiae of Hunter Biden’s activities over the past 15 years tend to be those who are solid Republican voters, rather than swing voters. 

Another implication is that the president himself has committed some sort of wrongdoing in relation to his son’s business activities, but if opponents of Joseph Biden have not succeeded in making that case. It’s highly likely that people in China, Ukraine and elsewhere have sought to get into business with Hunter Biden because they believe they can get close to his father, but there has been shockingly little evidence presented that this has happened. 

Expertise and Experience: Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review, and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.