Usually, when you ask Elizabeth Warren a policy-related question, she gives you a definite answer. Yet, when asked about an issue which presently affects one of her principal opponents this week, Warren became visibly flustered. CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga pressed the rising presidential candidate on whether or not her ethics plan would allow her vice president's son to serve on the board of a foreign company. "No," was her immediate response. And then: "I don't know. I mean I’d have to go back and look at the details."
Warren is not the only Democratic presidential primary contender who has been asked to weigh in.
While in Los Angeles, Kamala Harris was asked if Joe Biden, or his son, Hunter Biden, should be investigated. “I believe that that this is a political tactic being waged by Donald Trump, because he obviously perceives a threat,” she said. “That is a political threat, and I have no support for it whatsoever.”
But, when asked if the scandal — regardless of its lack of merit — adds to the narrative that Joe Biden has baggage? “I'll leave that to the voters to decide,” Harris coyly responded. Some took issue with that remark, arguing she should have said that this wasn’t about Joe Biden, but Trump’s actions while serving in his capacity as President of the United States. To put it bluntly, that is adorably naive — and, rather predictably, misses the point.
What President Trump is accused of (and has effectively already admitted to) doing — shaking down a foreign leader to lend credence to an already debunked conspiracy theory about a political foe’s son, in an effort to bolster his personal re-election efforts — is a remarkable abuse of power. And, considering Biden has only one living son who we already know has experienced substance abuse issues, it’s also just a really shitty thing to do to someone. On the other hand, Harris is correct to tell baiting reporters that voters ought to decide how much of scandal we can stomach from any candidate in this climate.
Even if the Hunter Biden scandal is an invention of the right, it does signal another weakness in Biden’s candidacy. There may be no proof that Hunter Biden or Burisma, which is the natural gas company he served on the board of, committed any wrongdoing, but in terms of optics, as MSNBC’s Chris Hayes explained in an interview with The Daily Beast, “the vice president’s son essentially buckraking in Ukraine is not a great look.”
While some have bizarrely argued that Hunter Biden would be a boost to Joe Biden’s candidacy, his choice to seemingly exploit his famous last name to earn a lot of money working with a Ukrainian company gives Trump and the GOP the opportunity to engage in another "but her emails" narrative. Even if Trump and co will undoubtedly have very difficult days, weeks, and months ahead as the whistleblower scandal grows, more scrutiny will also continue to be placed on Biden’s family members and their business dealings. It’s just foolish to deny that.
There’s already newer attention being paid to a hedge fund Hunter ran with Biden’s brother, James Biden — namely him apparently snagging the job as executive vice president of a construction company in 2010 despite having little experience in the field. That company is said to have eventually received a $1.5 billion deal to build affordable housing in Iraq. Moreover, James Biden has also been accused of telling executives at a healthcare firm that the former vice president’s cancer initiative would promote their business.
Again, Biden cannot control what his brother or son does, but in trying to oust the most corrupt president in American history, why nominate a candidate who will muddy that campaign, especially now there’s a looming impeachment trial?
The Washington Post claims that the Biden campaign is weighing up whether or not to support a Wall Street tax in light of policies from his main competition — Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders — and we already know that Biden shows a curious empathy for the ultra-rich. To wit, on Thursday night, at a fundraiser in Los Angeles, Biden joked to the big donors who made up the audience that they shouldn’t expect “punishment” either.
“It ain’t comin’, it ain’t gonna come,” Biden said of the possibility of a tax cut for the wealthiest, as he locked eyes with one donor. “But! No punishment, either.”
We live in a period of gross inequality fueled largely by an unjust system that traffics in racism. In Joe Biden, we have a candidate who says he is disgusted by Trump’s bigotry but speaks fondly of working with segregationists and answers a debate question about systemic racism by insulting black parenting. In Joe Biden, we get someone who says he won’t “punish” the wealthy who benefit from a system set up to benefit them and them alone. And now, in Joe Biden, we have a candidate who actually might bring down Trump, only not in the way he thinks, largely because his own brewing scandals may sink his chances too.
In Joe Biden, you get a candidate who wants us to return the nation to “normalcy.” But, things were pretty awful before Trump; if anything, he merely magnified many of our problems. We need fundamental change, and if this week has proven anything, it’s that nominating a throwback won’t solve them.
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