Michelle Malkin performs a case study of Robert Hunter Biden that she dubs “The chronicles of Hunter Biden.” Biden is the younger of Vice President Biden’s two sons. Hunter Biden was discharged from the Navy when he flunked a Navy drug test; he tested positive for cocaine use.
Michelle declares that Biden’s saga signifies something larger than appearances might suggest. She finds it illustrative of beltway nepotism, corporate cronyism and corruption. Her column represents an advanced course in a tawdry subject. Please don’t miss it. Nobody does it like Michelle. I want to back up and briefly review the story for beginners.
The story of Biden’s discharge was reported by the Wall Street Journal last week by Colleen McCain Nelson and Julian Barnes: “Biden’s son hunter discharged from Navy Reserve after failing cocaine test.” Here is the opening of the story:
Vice President Joe Biden ’s son Hunter was discharged from the Navy Reserve this year after testing positive for cocaine, according to people familiar with the matter.
Hunter Biden, a lawyer by training who is now a managing partner at an investment company, had been commissioned as an ensign in the Navy Reserve, a part-time position. But after failing a drug test last year, his brief military career ended.
Mr. Biden, 44 years old, decided to pursue military service relatively late, beginning the direct-commission process to become a public-affairs officer in the Navy Reserve in 2012. Because of his age—43 when he was to be commissioned—he needed a waiver to join the Navy. He received a second Navy waiver because of a drug-related incident when he was a young man, according to people familiar with the matter. Military officials say such drug waivers aren’t uncommon.
Mr. Biden was commissioned as an ensign on May 7, 2013, and assigned to Navy Public Affairs Support Element East in Norfolk, Va., a reserve unit, according to the Navy. In June 2013, after reporting to his unit in Norfolk, he was given a drug test, which turned up positive for cocaine, according to people familiar with the situation. Mr. Biden was discharged in February, the Navy said.
Mr. Biden said in a statement that it was “the honor of my life to serve in the U.S. Navy, and I deeply regret and am embarrassed that my actions led to my administrative discharge. I respect the Navy’s decision. With the love and support of my family, I’m moving forward.”
The vice president’s office declined to comment….
The story doesn’t explore all the irregularities implicit in it. The discharge, for example, occurred this past February, eight months ago. How was the news suppressed for so long, until “people familiar with the matter” (in the words of the Journal’s reporters) let the coke out of the bag, so to speak? The suppression of the news represents a story by itself.
Then we have Biden’s lack of qualification for the treatment he received all along the way. The Naval Reserve must not feel too good about itself, or about the uncomfortable position in which it was put by the son of the Vice President. The authorities up the chain of the Naval Reserve are “familiar with the matter” and know how to reach out and touch someone at the Journal.
How unqualified was Hunter Biden? He was too old to join the Naval Reserve at age 43. He sought an officer’s commission for which he didn’t qualify. He received waivers to fill a part-time position in public affairs for which he wasn’t needed. After navigating these shoals, Biden was discharged within a month because he flunked a drug test.
Taking a look at the proceedings, the editors of the Delaware News Journal finds “an element soft corruption” on the part of the authorities in Biden’s treatment. It’s a bit of an understatement from a friendly source, but at least it is unillusioned.
The Weekly Standard’s Philip Terzian explores the anomalies and their historical resonance:
Biden was also granted two waivers by the Navy, one for advanced age and another for a previous, unspecified “drug-related” incident. A waiver for age is not the worst thing in the world (Biden was eight years over the maximum for the Navy’s program) and there are innumerable stories of men eager for combat who couldn’t pass an eye test, or were too old to enlist, but somehow contrived to get into uniform. Hunter Biden, however, was evidently not headed into harm’s way; and in any case, on September 11, 2001, he was 31 years old, a more appropriate age to sign up to fight. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that he sought and obtained a naval commission for political purposes — public office in his native Delaware? — and that his status as a son of Vice President Joe Biden did him no harm.
The irony, of course, is that minor political scandals have erupted in the past over such questions. In 2000, the circumstances of George W. Bush’s service as a pilot in the Texas Air National Guard became a campaign issue. So did the promotion, in 1940, of President Franklin Roosevelt’s son Elliott to captain in the Army Air Corps. Abraham Lincoln’s eldest son Robert was criticized for his non-combatant status as a staff officer during the Civil War.
A more instructive parallel, however, might be to Sen. Joseph McCarthy, of all people. When one of McCarthy’s Senate aides, G. David Schine, was drafted into the Army and sent to basic training at Ft. Monmouth, N.J., Roy Cohn, another McCarthy aide and reputedly Schine’s lover, intervened persistently to obtain an officer’s commission for Schine. When the Army protested about repeated threats and interference from the senator’s office, McCarthy charged that the Army was attempting to retaliate against his investigations into communist subversion in the armed forces. The televised hearings that were held during April-June 1954 to investigate the matter — the famous Army-McCarthy hearings — not only revealed that McCarthy and his staff had repeatedly wielded their influence on behalf of Schine, but had done so despite Schine’s complete lack of qualifications for an officer’s commission.
The differences between Joseph McCarthy and Joseph Biden are self-evident, of course. But just as the effort to make G. David Schine an Army officer taught the country something about Senator McCarthy, so the brief, inglorious naval career of Hunter Biden tells us something about Vice President Biden — and the culture of entitlement in political Washington that has tarnished the Navy.
One wonders what might have been made of this story in a Republican administration. I can’t even imagine. What is the over/under on the number of days which the particulars of Norman’s column would have been given page-one treatment by the New York Times? Answer, I think: 35, or until the Department of Justice appointed a special counsel to investigate the matter.
Beyond media double standards, the superficially tawdry saga of Hunter Biden raises the difficult question intimated by Norman in his conclusion: Is there an institution under its jurisdiction that the Obama administration hasn’t degraded?