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Hunter Biden’s woes reveal Joe Biden’s character and the kind of father he is | Austin Sarat | Pronunciation

As has been widely noted, the prosecution and conviction of Hunter Biden, regardless of its legal merit, has many of the qualities of a Greek tragedy. And as his case unfolded, the most intimate details of his private life came to light.

The Washingtonpost said simply that “Biden’s trial pulled back the curtain on the family’s dark moments.” The fact that Hunter is the son of the President of the United States only deepens the tabloid intrigue.

Here I don’t want to focus on Hunter and what he did, but instead on what we can learn about Joe Biden’s character from the way he handled himself in Hunter Biden’s case. This case provides another example of how much we learn about people’s character by the way they react in tragic situations.

“Character,” writes Suzanne Fields, “is determined by how we respond to events and circumstances, especially when something goes wrong.” And character will be on the ballot in November. It’s one of many major differences between President Biden and his Republican challenger, Donald Trump.

Long ago, Abraham Lincoln pointed out the importance of assessing the character of our political leaders by comparing what he called “reputation” to character. “Reputation is the shade,” Lincoln said, “and character is the tree.”

Reputation, Lincoln understood, “can be falsified in politics by the arts of clever image-makers. Character cannot be faked because it is who we are when no one is looking.” More than a century after Lincoln, political scientist James David Barber showed how presidential performance is shaped by the character of those who hold office, by “the way the president approaches life.”

Because Joe Biden has been in the public eye for a long time, Americans already know a lot about how he ‘orients himself to life’. But we’ve learned a lot more about the president lately as he’s endured the pain of watching his son brought to justice.

The president himself has reminded us that Hunter’s trial has been a trial of sorts for him, too. First and foremost, it tests the strength of their father-son relationship.

Such relationships are obviously very important to Joe Biden. As journalism professor Chris Lamb argues, “President Joe Biden often talks about the close relationship he had with his father and how it influenced him growing up as ‘the dirty kid from Scranton, Pennsylvania.’”

Biden’s father, Lamb writes, “lost his job after World War II and abused alcohol. He struggled financially for years before getting back on his feet and finding middle-class work selling cars near Wilmington, Delaware.”

The president regularly tells stories about his father. He quotes his father’s advice: “The measure of a man is not how many times he gets knocked down, but how quickly he gets up.”

While the truth about Biden’s relationship with his father is more complicated than can be summed up in that one aphorism, his father’s words may explain why President Biden has gone out of his way to “Hunter’s resilience in the face of adversity and the strength he has to praise’. brought to his recovery are inspiring to us. Many families,” the president noted, “have loved ones who have overcome addiction and know what we mean.”

In 2019, Biden posted on Instagram his late father’s belief that “there is no higher calling for a woman or a man than to be a good mother or a good father.” Trying to be a good father always seemed to be one of Joe Biden’s highest priorities.

That may be why he went home to Delaware every night to be with his children, instead of staying in Washington, D.C., when he started his career in the Senate. CNN estimated he made about 8,000 round trips on the same route.

“Looking back, the real reason I went home every night is because I needed my kids more than they needed me,” he told CNN in 2015, “noting that experts suggested his absence from Washington was his destroy political career.”

The importance Biden places on being a good father may also explain why Biden acknowledged at the outset of Hunter’s trial that he would be tested in both his public and private life by what was about to unfold. “I’m the president,” Joe Biden noted, “but I’m also a father.”

“As president, I do not comment on pending federal cases, but as a father I have boundless love for my son, confidence in him and respect for his strength.”

ABC News reports that it has been clear throughout Hunter’s legal troubles that “the fatherly relationship Joe Biden has with his son Hunter outweighs concerns about appearances and political implications.” It quotes President Biden as saying, “I love my son, number one. He was battling – an addiction problem. He overcame it. He wrote about it. And no, there is absolutely nothing that I have observed that would affect me or the United States vis-à-vis my son Hunter. ”

Loving Hunter hasn’t been easy in recent years.

Hunter makes that clear in his 2021 memoir. He sums up the challenge when he writes about how his father, then vice president, responded when he came to check on Hunter during one of his alcohol and drug binges.

“The last thing I wanted,” Hunter writes, “was for my father to show up outside my apartment building with his huge security staff. But almost a month later he had had enough. He reduced his security to a minimum and knocked on my door.”

“I let him in,” Hunter wrote. “He looked stunned at what he saw. He asked if I was okay and I told him I was okay. “I know you’re not doing well, Hunter,” he said, looking at me as he searched the apartment. “You need help.” I looked into my father’s eyes and saw an expression of despair, an expression of fear.”

Despair and fear, who hasn’t felt them both in the struggles of a child? But, as an ABC News story notes, “Throughout the book, Joe Biden takes on a recurring role as Hunter Biden’s lifeline, guiding him through moments of seemingly insurmountable difficulties in his relationships and his drug addiction.”

While I don’t know exactly what Joe Biden is feeling in the shadow of his son’s criminal conviction, I was struck by the very public display of affection the president expressed about Hunter when he first saw him after the verdict was handed down.

It was a vivid testament to the sincerity of what the President said at the time. “Jill and I will always be there for Hunter and the rest of our family with our love and support. Nothing will ever change that.”

Whatever Joe Biden, the father, thinks about the legal proceedings brought against his son, unlike Donald Trump, who has bitterly attacked the prosecutors and judges involved in the various cases against him, Biden has said nothing about the U.S. Attorney David Weiss, a Trump accuser. appointed to serve as special counsel in Hunter’s case, or Judge Maryellen Noreika, who presided over the trial and was nominated to the court by Trump.

Instead of mocking trials and juries, as his opponent for president usually does, Biden said he would respect the jury’s verdict, and “When asked by interviewer David Muir of ABC whether he would rule out pardoning Hunter Biden, The president responded with one word: “Yes.”

Unfailing loyalty, boundless love, fortitude and self-control of the kind Biden has shown are certainly important character traits in someone who aspires to lead this nation. As Julian Zelizer, professor of history at Princeton University, says, “When push comes to shove, a candidate’s character may be the most important factor determining how he or she will make decisions and run the White House.”

Voters can rest assured about Biden’s character. He passed the test of his son Hunter’s problems with flying colors.

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