Why Joe Biden?

On Oct 4, Sen. Mitt Romney tweeted: "When the only American citizen President Trump singles out for China's investigation is his political opponent [Joe Biden] ... it strains credulity to suggest that it is anything other than politically motivated."

Does it really?  If we assume that Trump's call to China to investigate, in effect, itself was really serious, let us make some other, hypothetical assumptions.  Let us assume that there are several Americans who qualified for such an investigation, but only a few of them held or would be running for political office.  Which would be more appropriate for investigation — the private citizen, who has authority only over himself, or the political official or candidate who has, or may have, authority not only over himself, but over matters of public interest?  Particularly when the political office we are talking about is the presidency of the United States?

Is the investigation of a presidential candidate supposed to be prohibited if the current president, the person with the authority to call for such an investigation, is a political opponent?  Such calls for such investigations can only be made against members of the suspected offender's own party?  Biden's Ukraine dealings could be challenged only if Hillary Clinton were president?  Could there be some problem in that logic?

While we're on the subject of problems in logic, and on Joe Biden, and on corruption — specifically, Biden's son Hunter working for a Ukrainian energy company (Burisma), while having no background in energy or Ukraine, yet making as much as $83,000 a month, while his father served as the point man for the Obama administration policy in that nation, and which authority Biden used to halt an investigation of Burisma...while we're on that little subject, and on problems in logic, let us consider, to the charge that preceding scenario raised issues of conflict of interest, the response that Biden made to that charge.

Specifically, Biden said he and Hunter never spoke about Hunter's overseas business dealings; that Biden had no knowledge of them.  This claim is, as confirmed on at least two occasions, false.  But, for the sake of argument, let us consider it true.  The logic here is that, if Biden doesn't know what his son is doing, well, then, it can't affect his own decisions, therefore it cannot constitute a conflict of interest.

There is just one minor problem with this logic.  How do we know Biden is telling the truth?  Are we just supposed to believe him?  If we're supposed to do that, then why do we need policies that eliminate conflict of interests at all?  Why couldn't someone like Biden simply say, "Oh, yeah — I knew about it, but it had no influence over my decision?"  We're just supposed to believe that?

This logic seems to overlook the whole point of conflict of interest polices, which is to prevent situations where all we can rely is simply the word of the conflicted party.  To do this, it is the obligation of the conflicted party not to be ignorant of any possible conflict, but, quite the contrary, to be knowledgeable.

Biden says he didn't talk to Hunter about what he was doing?  And Hunter didn't talk to him?  In both cases, neither was complying with the demands of conflict of interest policy, but was disregarding them.  They should have been talking to each other, and if there were a potential conflict, either Biden should have requested to be reassigned or Hunter should have found a different $83,000-per-month gig. 

They didn't do that.  And Americans are supposed to ignore that?  The new answer for conflicts of interest is supposed to be "Well, I had no idea of what my son was doing?"

Why Joe Biden?  If for no other reason, to slap down such that deceptive logic before it becomes acceptable, even for candidates for the United States presidency.

Image: Marc Nozell via Flickr.

On Oct 4, Sen. Mitt Romney tweeted: "When the only American citizen President Trump singles out for China's investigation is his political opponent [Joe Biden] ... it strains credulity to suggest that it is anything other than politically motivated."

Does it really?  If we assume that Trump's call to China to investigate, in effect, itself was really serious, let us make some other, hypothetical assumptions.  Let us assume that there are several Americans who qualified for such an investigation, but only a few of them held or would be running for political office.  Which would be more appropriate for investigation — the private citizen, who has authority only over himself, or the political official or candidate who has, or may have, authority not only over himself, but over matters of public interest?  Particularly when the political office we are talking about is the presidency of the United States?

Is the investigation of a presidential candidate supposed to be prohibited if the current president, the person with the authority to call for such an investigation, is a political opponent?  Such calls for such investigations can only be made against members of the suspected offender's own party?  Biden's Ukraine dealings could be challenged only if Hillary Clinton were president?  Could there be some problem in that logic?

While we're on the subject of problems in logic, and on Joe Biden, and on corruption — specifically, Biden's son Hunter working for a Ukrainian energy company (Burisma), while having no background in energy or Ukraine, yet making as much as $83,000 a month, while his father served as the point man for the Obama administration policy in that nation, and which authority Biden used to halt an investigation of Burisma...while we're on that little subject, and on problems in logic, let us consider, to the charge that preceding scenario raised issues of conflict of interest, the response that Biden made to that charge.

Specifically, Biden said he and Hunter never spoke about Hunter's overseas business dealings; that Biden had no knowledge of them.  This claim is, as confirmed on at least two occasions, false.  But, for the sake of argument, let us consider it true.  The logic here is that, if Biden doesn't know what his son is doing, well, then, it can't affect his own decisions, therefore it cannot constitute a conflict of interest.

There is just one minor problem with this logic.  How do we know Biden is telling the truth?  Are we just supposed to believe him?  If we're supposed to do that, then why do we need policies that eliminate conflict of interests at all?  Why couldn't someone like Biden simply say, "Oh, yeah — I knew about it, but it had no influence over my decision?"  We're just supposed to believe that?

This logic seems to overlook the whole point of conflict of interest polices, which is to prevent situations where all we can rely is simply the word of the conflicted party.  To do this, it is the obligation of the conflicted party not to be ignorant of any possible conflict, but, quite the contrary, to be knowledgeable.

Biden says he didn't talk to Hunter about what he was doing?  And Hunter didn't talk to him?  In both cases, neither was complying with the demands of conflict of interest policy, but was disregarding them.  They should have been talking to each other, and if there were a potential conflict, either Biden should have requested to be reassigned or Hunter should have found a different $83,000-per-month gig. 

They didn't do that.  And Americans are supposed to ignore that?  The new answer for conflicts of interest is supposed to be "Well, I had no idea of what my son was doing?"

Why Joe Biden?  If for no other reason, to slap down such that deceptive logic before it becomes acceptable, even for candidates for the United States presidency.

Image: Marc Nozell via Flickr.