The great Napoleon put it well when he said: “Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily.” By this bracing yardstick, the adrift presidency of Joe Biden is dying every day.
Whether the issue is his failure to enact the whole of his ambitious domestic agenda, dangerous verbal gaffes over the Ukraine War, or loosing the beast of inflation on the unsuspecting American people, the White House is clearly on the policy defensive, a fact increasingly reflected in the president’s job approval numbers.
Despite Biden’s being shielded by an increasingly desperate American mainstream media, who serve as unbelieved apologists for the White House, the American people are not fooled in the least by what is going on; the Real Clear Politics average of polling puts the president’s approval rating at a lowly 41 percent, with 54 percent disapproving of his performance.
As this column has made clear, the best way to read US polling is to think of it as the temperature of the presidential patient. Denizens of Washington — from the lowliest legislative correspondent who answers the mail, to the Secretary of State — look at polls in the same way the rest of the country reads daily baseball scores: Avidly, voraciously, incessantly.
A Washington-insider rule of thumb is that if the president has an approval rating above 60 percent, so popular is he out in the country that he can largely tell Congress what to do, as was the case for Franklin Roosevelt in 1936, Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952, Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and Ronald Reagan in 1984. However, when a president’s approval rating plummets to the sub-40 percent level, the White House has to spend its time trying to squelch rumors that he is dead, so peripheral is his stature. With Biden just above this perilous number, he is struggling to remain relevant.
Even worse for Biden, beyond the listing domestic agenda, verbal miscues over Ukraine, and the rise of rampant inflation, a new danger to the White House has emerged, a long dormant scandal involving his son, Hunter. The Hunter Biden saga, a story the mainstream press managed to bury during the 2020 campaign, has once again reared its ugly head with news that the president’s ne’er-do-well son is being investigated by a Delaware grand jury for his murky tax and international business dealings.
At best, Hunter Biden has made an unseemly career of merely living off being his famous father’s son. For example, despite not having the credentials in the energy sector to be even an intern, he sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, making several million dollars for seemingly doing nothing. One assumes the company hoped to cash in on Hunter’s father’s position, otherwise there seems no logical reason for him to be hired. Worse, Hunter also engaged in murky work in China — America’s emerging strategic competitor — even hitching a ride with his then vice president father to facilitate business dealings.
A grand jury has been convened to investigate all this, plus his highly possible non-payment of tax. However, the trouble does not stop with Hunter Biden. Leaks from the grand jury’s work appeared in the British newspaper The Times and other reputable sources, confirming what Hunter’s former business partner, Tony Bobulinksi, has repeatedly said: Joe Biden was deeply involved in Hunter’s dodgy business dealings. Particularly damning is one email revealed by Bobulinski that says: “10 held by H for the Big Guy,” a reference to the percentage equity distribution in a venture with a now-defunct Chinese energy company. It does not take a mind reader to glean that “H” may well be Hunter, or who “The Big Guy” is, an obvious supposition confirmed by Bobulinski, who has been voluntarily cooperating with the FBI.
But far worse for the president is that during the campaign he made a number of barely-believable statements, at the time (incredibly) not followed up by the suspiciously incurious mainstream American media. When asked what, if anything, he knew of his son’s business practices, candidate Biden said that they had never spoken of them. I remember at the time yelling at my TV: “Never? Not at Christmas? Thanksgiving? Not when the kids get together? You never asked your son how his business was going or what he was doing in all these far-flung places?” This may have been my knee-jerk, logical reaction to such a likely misstatement, but again, incredibly, Biden was not called out on it. That is, until now.
Forced by the reality of the grand jury and a mountain of unseemly facts, the two great leftist American papers of record, The Washington Post and The New York Times, rather than calling the Hunter Biden story into disrepute as unfounded, have at last grudgingly admitted that it needs to be followed up — more than a year after the New York Post first ran the allegations. Conveniently for the Biden political team at the time, a scandal that might have affected the outcome of the 2020 election was buried. Inconveniently for them, like a vampire, it has risen from the grave, despite the best efforts of an in-the-tank American mainstream media. Look for this story to run and run, dogging the beleaguered Biden administration for years to come.
This post was originally published in Arab News.