Readers of the Washington Post (no relation!) were shocked last week to discover that the White House has an ethical problem regarding Hunter Biden’s cashing in on his father’s name.
Nice they’re finally catching on, only nine months after the New York Post began exposing Joe Biden’s history of complicity in his family’s influence-peddling schemes at home and abroad.
Of course, the White House and its media comrades are admitting concern only about a narrow, potentially, kind of, maybe, a bit problematic ethical dilemma over Hunter’s new career as a high-priced ink-blow artist.
“White House grapples with ethics of Hunter Biden’s pricey paintings,” was the WaPo headline, giving the green light to allied media outlets to gently explore a subject that has been taboo since October.
But God forbid they admit the New York Post’s stories about Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop were legitimate journalism that never should have been banned by Twitter and Facebook and dismissed by those paragons of integrity ex-CIA Director John Brennan, ex-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and pals as Russian Disinformation. No way. This is completely different. This is an example of a super ethical White House, setting standards of honesty and transparency like we’ve never seen.
“The president has established the highest ethical standards of any administration in American history, and his family’s commitment to rigorous processes like this is a prime example,” Andrew Bates, a spokesperson for the White House, said with a straight face. Actually, he issued a written statement so no one could see his face.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki had the misfortune of having to show her face to answer questions at a press conference Friday, which led to this Orwellian exchange:
Q: “Did the White House play any role in crafting the sales agreement with the New York gallery to protect the . . . purchasers’ identity?”
Psaki: “Well, I can tell you that after careful consideration, a system has been established that allows for Hunter Biden to work in his profession within reasonable safeguards. Of course, he has the right to pursue an artistic career, just like any child [ahem, he’s 51] of a president has the right to pursue a career . . . The gallerist will not share information about buyers or prospective buyers, including their identities, with Hunter Biden or the administration, which provides quite a level of protection and transparency.”
Quite a level indeed. So much transparency that no one is allowed to know anything.
We are supposed to take on trust that the president is such an honest Joe it’s impossible to buy access to the White House. He’s gotten away with this confidence trick his whole career.
If confronted, he becomes offended and deeply sad, as if any questioning of his integrity compounds the burden of tragedy in his family life. Anyone with half a heart has to slink away and hope for the best.
So how will Hunter’s pal, Soho gallery owner George Berges, be able to discern whether a buyer is suspect? How can he tell if the Chinese oligarch phoning in a $500,000 bid for a canvas onto which Hunter has blown blobs of paint through a straw is an emissary of President Xi Jinping? How will he know if the Ukrainian on the line owns a corrupt energy company that paid Hunter $83,333 a month? Or if the Russian blonde bidding up the back is the widow of the corrupt former mayor of Moscow with a penchant for wiring millions of dollars to bank accounts associated with Hunter and his partners? The same goes for the Romanians, the Kazakhstanis, the Latvians, the Omanis, the credit-card companies incorporated in Delaware, the asbestos-litigation specialists, et cetera ad nauseam.
“I think it would be challenging for an anonymous person who we don’t know, and Hunter Biden doesn’t know, to have influence,” said Psaki. “So that’s a protection.”
Some protection. What’s to stop the anonymous buyer dropping an e-mail to Hunter: “Hey, buddy, just paid half a million dollars for your crappy painting. How about dinner with dad at Café Milano?”
You know Joe will oblige. He always does.
Personally, I quite like Hunter’s paintings. But the experts are not exactly won over. “Generic Post Zombie Formalism” was the verdict of Jerry Saltz, New York magazine critic.
“I guess it’s important that wounded men of a certain age and privileged background have the opportunity to find themselves creatively,” critic Scott Indrisek told Artnet News. “It’s just too bad that everyone else is expected to pay attention.”
As nice as Hunter’s paintings may be, the prices he is charging — $75,000 to $500,000 — are ridiculous for a first-time artist with no formal training.
In case you aren’t sure of that, check out the price for a forgotten Picasso discovered in a closet in Maine where it had languished for 50 years. The 16-inch square painting, signed and dated by the artist in 1919, fetched just $150,000 at auction in Massachusetts on July 2.
Hunter’s art exhibition is a problem because the Bidens have so flagrantly monetized the perks of Joe’s office with impunity for so long that they have lost the ability to comprehend how bad it looks. But it’s the tip of the iceberg.
What we are learning from Hunter’s abandoned laptop also reflects poorly on the Obama administration when you realize that Hunter was making out like Jason Bourne with the world’s motley crew of corrupt oligarchs and kleptocrats at their favorite European summer resorts, all under the watchful eye of the Secret Service.
At times Air Force Two delivered the Biden princeling into the arms of his shady friends. At other times, Joe invited Hunter’s business associates for breakfast in the veep residence at the Naval Observatory, or into his office at the West Wing, where he obligingly posed for pictures.
He autographed his books for Hunter to sprinkle around to prospective elite benefactors in Beijing and Shanghai, in case there were any doubt about whose son he was.
All of it ought to have been known to Brennan, Clapper and the intelligence agencies.
Join the dots for the“Aha” moment.
Miranda Devine’s book, “Laptop from Hell: Hunter Biden, Big Tech, and the Dirty Secrets the President Tried to Hide,” will be out this fall.