The Tragedy of Hunter Biden and the Daughter He’s Never Met

From a Wall Street Journal column by Lance Morrow headlined “The Tragedy of Hunter Biden and the Daughter He’s Never Met”:

It could be a plot from a Charles Dickens novel—or from the country of myth: one of Herodotus’ tales of dynasty and retribution.

If Herodotus were telling the story, he would begin by recounting how, long ago, Joe Biden lost a daughter, Naomi, when she was only a year old. It happened in the 1972 Delaware car crash that also killed his wife, Neilia, who was driving, and critically injured their little boys, Beau and Hunter. The accident became the defining trauma of the elder Mr. Biden’s emotional life. He suffered. He rose from the ashes.

Years passed. Joe Biden won many elections. He remarried. His elder son, Beau, grew to estimable, prospering manhood. But cruel fate intervened again. Beau, the golden son in his prime, died of a brain tumor at 46. Joe Biden, family man, was touched once more by the sorrows of Job. On the other hand, in his old age, he became the most powerful man in the world.

In the fullness of time, Providence sent Joe Biden a blessing: another little girl, a granddaughter named Navy Joan. She is 4 and lives with her mother in Arkansas. She is innocent—as blameless, one might say, as her father, Hunter Biden, is not. The Biden family has yet to come to clarity on this point: It isn’t the child who is disreputable. It is her father.

How does one judge the story? As classic fable? Soap opera? Ugly but irrelevant anecdote? When I was young, the novelist Grace Metalious wrote “Peyton Place” about this sort of thing. Aside from a recent child-support settlement agreed to in an Arkansas court (in which the takeaway prize, God help us, was a bunch of awful paintings by the child’s father, whom she’s never met), the Bidens have decided that the little girl doesn’t exist. It would make more sense from a moral point of view if they embraced Navy Joan and declared that it’s Hunter who doesn’t exist.

In any case, Dickens and Herodotus both would tell the Bidens: It isn’t wise to refuse such a gift of grace, a blameless child. It is bad karma. It is a sin.

The story has a sleazy fascination and glints of brutality and dark psychology about it. The son’s strange power over the father is such that neither will acknowledge the girl. There seems something unwholesome, almost morbid, about Joe’s relationship with Hunter. One senses that Joe is afraid of his son—that there is wickedness in Hunter. His power over his father is sinister. Father and son seem to appease and protect one another.

The surviving boy holds a get-out-of-jail-free card. Hunter’s siblings Naomi and Beau are gone; Hunter, the dissolute lad, now middle-aged, conducts his life as an antinomian triumph, reckless, heedless, apparently immune to his father’s censure and the law’s rebuke. His father, the world’s most powerful man, is powerless to reprove the precious son.

If the story is viewed up close, in a 2023-24 context, it gets contaminated, like everything else in American life, by politics. It becomes a red state/blue state parable, which is unfair to the girl but is enough to keep the grown-ups at one another’s throats. Whataboutism: “Talk about Hunter! What about Trump and his disgraceful behavior?”

There is also the sociology of it: To put it crudely, the story pits the lace-curtain Irish Bidens’ would-be gentility against the Sarah Palin zones, where people wear camouflage T-shirts and watch “Duck Dynasty” and are apt to vote for Donald Trump.

The press agent in me thinks the Bidens would be wise to bring Navy Joan up to Camp David from time to time, out of the public gaze, and let her spend an afternoon fishing with her dad and grandfather. Let the White House photographer take a discreet sun-dappled photo of the scene. The image could be quietly released to the press and would bring tears to the eyes of the world.

hat would be the easy way. My other idea is that Hunter Biden, who is 53, should depart from his father’s house forever. He should go out from the presence of the Lord, as it says in Genesis 4:16, and dwell in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.

Lance Morrow is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and author of “The Noise of Typewriters: Remembering Journalism.”

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