Jonathan Chait, Hunter Biden is the New Hillary Clinton Email Server
Chait rightly identifies similarities between the Hunter Biden scandal and the Clinton email server scandal:
- Trump will make a big deal of them,
- the press will play into Trump’s hands, and
- Trump is guilty of far worse acts—of using insecure connections and of rampant nepotism—but will probably get away with his hypocrisy.
But Chait wrongly declares that neither scandal is that big a deal. He also downplays a regrettable similarity in the Clinton and Sleepy Joe responses: aggressive sanctimoniousness, combined with an apparent failure to recognize the full reality of the situation.
Moreover, as far as I can tell, these unsatisfactory responses arise not from faulty political calculation, but rather from genuine mental blind spots on the part of Hillary and Joe, respectively. These mental blind spots pale in comparison to Trump’s grotesque mental failings, but they are still worrisome.
Finally, Chait writes,
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.
Let me respond this way. First of all, in my experience, people in all walks of life, not just politicians, do not generally relish admitting error. But that said, it’s very important for people with high responsibilities to recognize when they have erred, and to admit their errors, in an appropriate way, at the appropriate time.
And, no, it is not in the least difficult to know the gist of what Biden should say. He should say that his middle-aged son made a serious mistake, that people cannot control all the life decisions made by their middle-aged offspring, but that, still, he should have spoken out to disavow what his son was doing. Failing to do that was a mistake. And, if you want to vote for a perfect candidate who has never made a mistake, then you will just have to vote for someone else.
That’s the substance of how he should respond the next time he’s asked. (And ixnay on the pushup challenge.)
The time after that, he should just say, asked and answered, see my previous response.