Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
What do you do after serving on the board of a corrupt Ukranian gas company and facing an FBI investigation over your dealings with Chinese Communist firms? You open an art studio.
Last February, the New York Times published an extensive profile claiming that Hunter Biden had opened an art studio in his Hollywood home and was working on “decorative abstractions”.
Decorative abstractions would also be a good description of the media’s coverage of Hunter.
Art was “literally keeping me sane,” Hunter declared. “For years I wouldn’t call myself an artist. Now I feel comfortable saying it.”
No one however felt comfortable laughing at it. And that’s the real tragedy of the Bidens.
No less an authority on comedy than the Washington Post recently claimed that there’s nothing to laugh at about Biden who, unlike Hunter’s stripper ex, is “impregnable” to comedy. But if the leftist cultural establishment really wanted to help the Bidens, it would stop taking their tragic narcissism seriously, and start laughing at them until they get clean, sober, and find real jobs.
The Times described the most infamous political son in the country as an “undiscovered artist” who was looking around for gallery representation courtesy of a Biden family friend and fundraiser. But the incredibly prolific Hunter has also become a writer with a memoir, Beautiful Things, that was acquired in the fall of 2019. If you don’t succeed at art, go into literature.
Hunter as a writer is every bit as implausible as an artist, but his memoir is at least more in demand than his art because of his degrading confessions. Stories of trying to smoke parmesan cheese because it looked like crack are a lot more entertaining than random dots of colored ink on paper. Great art conceals as much as it reveals. Sometimes cheese looks like crack and sometimes a distraction from a money laundering investigation looks like crack.
There’s no question that Hunter Biden is a great artist. His medium though isn’t colored ink or literature. Like his father, Hunter is a storyteller. It may be hard to imagine now, but Joe Biden used to tell some great stories. The stories, like his scholarship, his academic achievements, or having his helicopter “forced down” on the “superhighway of terror” in Afghanistan, weren’t true.
And when the story of Neil Kinnock, the British Labour leader, was more compelling than anything Biden had, he borrowed it, just as he plagiarized his way through school. Getting caught just meant coming up with yet another bunch of malarkey to explain it. Another story.
That’s what Beautiful Things is. It’s not a memoir: it’s a distraction that reduces Hunter’s problems to drug addiction. And while Hunter was very obviously on drugs (and considering that he decided to launch an art career based on ink splotches still might be) that wasn’t the issue.
The FBI isn’t investigating Hunter Biden because of his amusing anecdotes about smoking parmesan cheese or, horrors, hanging out in $59 a night motels, stories from his lows that, unlike the illegitimate child he abandoned, he seems happy to discuss on network television.
Nor was Hunter at the center of several election scandals, including a mass censorship effort by Big Tech and Big Media to suppress a pre-election story, just because he was doing drugs.
We’re a long way from Bill Clinton pretending that he didn’t inhale. Obama launched his national political career by informing everyone that he prodigiously inhaled, tried cocaine, and had considered heroin. Democrat memoirs now lay out personal drug histories the way that their political candidates used to talk about their time in Vietnam or the Peace Corps.
Hunter could have called his memoir, Dreams From My Father, but that might have been too on the nose, no pun intended, considering the common cocaine denominator, but where Obama could market race and identity, Hunter has nothing going for him except being a poor rich junkie.
And there’s a plethora of those already out there.
The storytelling art of both Joe and Hunter rests on their use of tragedy as a distraction from their degeneracy. Joe Biden lied about the car crash that killed his first wife and baby daughter. It was a great story for the campaign trail and diverted attention from his affair with a married college student whom he had stalked after spotting her modeling photo on a bus shelter.
“I first met Joe two years after a car accident that injured his sons and killed his wife and his baby daughter,” Jill Biden told viewers in a campaign ad. But according to Bill, her husband, Jill had hooked up with Joe and had an affair with the married politician before the car crash.
The story of a man who found happiness again in the arms of a college student after the tragic death of his wife is a much nicer story than a man who cheated on his wife before she died, and then married the college student he was cheating on her with, screwing up his remaining sons.
That’s also the same story of marital redemption from tragedy that Hunter Biden is telling.
Beautiful Things is a redemption narrative about meeting his new wife, Melissa, quickly marrying her, and crediting her for saving him from his addiction demons, allowing him to pursue a career as an artist and a writer. It’s a story made for Hollywood and made in the Hollywood Hills.
There’s a familiar little problem with Hunter’s version of Tragedy Exploitation From My Father.
Hunter married Melissa in May 2019. That’s the same month that Lunden Alexis Roberts, a Washington D.C. stripper, sued Hunter for paternity. The encounter allegedly happened while Hunter was dating his brother’s widow. Hunter really is his father’s son. Paternity test pending.
A DNA test found that the child was indeed Hunter’s baby, though the artist and memoirist claims that he has no memory of the whole thing. Or much of anything else about his life.
Memory failure is the underlying theme of Beautiful Things. That and an evasion of responsibility. The more Hunter shares his stories of smoking parmesan cheese, the less anyone expects him to remember about his bastards or the bastards he dealt with overseas.
You can’t expect a junkie to remember financing deals in China or laptops in Vermont.
It could certainly be my laptop, Hunter admitted, or, “It could be that I was hacked. It could be that it was Russian intelligence. It could be that it was stolen from me.”
Building a new identity as an artist/writer/drug addict means perfect plausible deniability.
Hillary Clinton occasionally had to answer questions about her emails, but what if she’d insisted that she had been smoking crack cocaine or parmesan cheese all that time and had no idea.
Beautiful Things helps reinvent Hunter Biden as the man with no memory. Or at least no memories about anything useful, but lots of stories about being a junkie. Hunter’s new love affair with addiction literature isn’t surprising. There’s a class of junkie that loves telling stories about being a junkie and can’t be expected to talk about anything else. But Biden’s new art is still conveniently selective. It shifts the story from international corruption to narcissistic abuses.
The Bidens love to talk about tragedy. Joe Biden’s aborted 2016 campaign was going to be all about Beau’s death. If Beautiful Things sounds familiar, it should. Biden’s campaign memoir was titled, Promise Me, Dad. Both memoirs took their title from Beau Biden, mining his death for politics and profit. That’s a lot more shameless than Hunter’s stories about smoking crack.
Biden’s 2020 campaign was horrible enough, but the theme of the 2016 campaign that never happened was going to be that running for president had been his son’s dying wish.
Win one for Beau.
“It’s near insulting to Beau’s legacy to think that his last moments were politically driven,” an anonymous friend of Beau’s had said. “His dying wish would not be driven by politics.”
A Draft Biden ad for 2016 retold the story of Joe Biden’s dead son, his dead daughter, and his first dead wife. The video was so revolting that even David Axelrod called it “tasteless”.
The thing about Joe is that he’s so shameless that he makes Hunter at his worst look good.
No one would deny that Hunter Biden has issues. And they’re the issues of the pater familias of the clan. Hunter, like his dad, is an impulsive egomaniac with no ethics or morals. Politics is full of people like that so Joe Biden, who was dreaming of a Kennedyesque dynasty with Beau Biden running for president, hasn’t given up on Hunter’s political career. And he shouldn’t.
If JFK could stand in for JPK, his dead older brother and his father’s intended future presidential candidate, despite poor judgement, so many drugs they could have stocked a pharmacy, and issues with women, why can’t Hunter be to Joe what John was to Joseph?
But Beautiful Things is a poor substitute for Profiles in Courage even if both men probably had as much to do with the creation of the books that bear their names. Before the Kennedy name had become associated with a mediocre musical, conspiracy theories, and corruption, the clan had more to talk about than their own association with tragedy as a metaphor for the era.
The tragedy of the Bidens is that they have nothing to talk about except themselves.
The Kennedy family had tragedy forced on it, while the Bidens seem to relish tragedy because it distracts from how little they stand for. When you talk about the Bidens, you either talk about their corruption or their tragedies. And the tragedies become convenient ways of changing the subject, the way that they did for Ted Kennedy after he left a woman to die in his car.
Say what you will about Beau, but he’s never killed a woman. Yet. That we know of.
But even at their worst, the Kennedys were more interesting than Joe Biden at his best. The Bidens have never been anything other than a fourth-rate imitation of another New England Democrat crime family without their rhetoric, glamor, and the quality of their scandals.
The only thing the Bidens got from the Kennedys was their narcissism.
Beautiful Things is a redemption story and a distraction from the FBI investigation of Hunter. Normally a political author with a memoir would be asked about the FBI investigation first, but media accounts frequently don’t even mention it. And even asking a quick softball question that Hunter meets by claiming that he was too high to remember buries the real story.
The true problem with the Bidens isn’t that they have poor impulse control and are compulsive liars, but that their artistic facility for narcissism all too often changes the subject from their corruption. Hunter’s memoir is meant to wipe away the past like paint from a canvas, clearing space for a tabula rasa, and a future Senate run, and then perhaps a presidential campaign.
Those expectations may be unrealistic, but who would have imagined Joe in the White House?
While the media happily plumbs Hunter’s crack addiction, the Chinese Communists and other foreign enemies who happily funneled money to the sons and daughters of top Democrats are laughing at a system so corrupt that they can hardly believe what they’re getting away with.
Ask Hunter about his days of crack and roses, but not about Paradigm Global Advisors.
Crack is not a qualifier for the Senate or the White House, but financial dealings with the enemy is an actual national security threat. There’s evidence that those dealings didn’t end with Hunter, but extended to Joe Biden. Beautiful Things beautifully changes the subject from 10% for the big guy to smoking crack every 15 minutes. And as storytelling goes that’s a work of art.