My mother has truly produced the pumpkin of our era. pic.twitter.com/P6V4ixMRw7
— Alex Barnard (@avb_soc) October 19, 2020
— John Wirenius (@JohnJwirenius) October 25, 2020
This is lovely and good — Monica Hesse on “Joe Biden, Hunter Biden and the politics of unconditional love”:
… It’s not hard to imagine what the president thought he was doing when he first dredged up Hunter’s drug use and stilted military career: that Joe Biden would be embarrassed of his son. And maybe that voters would think less of them as a family. Trump’s older brother, Fred, died of alcoholism in 1981. Friends of the family told The Washington Post last year that it was like “a dark family secret,” causing “shame” for the Trump family, for whom — as Fred Trump’s daughter, Mary, later put it — “weakness was the greatest sin.”
How strange for the president, then, to lay out all of Hunter Biden’s embarrassing failings, and to have Joe Biden’s response be: “I’m proud of him.”…
Is the goal of fatherhood to shape your offspring in your own image — the path you feel is worthiest and best — and to require respect and devotion? Or is the goal to love your son even in his lowest moments, to redefine your expectations, to take on the heavy load of unconditional parenting, even when it’s a lopsided deal?
It’s no stroke of brilliance to point out that these two philosophies mirror the relationship the two politicians have with the country. Trump, a man who loves America only if it is nice to him and loves him to his exacting specifications: “It’s a two-way street; they have to treat us well, also,” he said in March, hanging the promise of federal coronavirus relief on whether blue-state governors were appropriately deferential.
Biden, a man who loves America even though it’s sometimes self-destructive. Even though it’s beaten down, embittered, spiritually adrift, wild with anxiety. “I’m running as a proud Democrat, but I’m gonna be an American president,” he said at Thursday’s debate. “I don’t see red states and blue states. What I see is American United States. And folks, every single state out there finds themselves in trouble.”
After the first debate, several voters cited Biden’s openhearted defense of Hunter as a standout moment in the debate. It spoke to them as parents, who knew the pride and heartache of watching their children suffer and struggle through a challenge. I wonder if it also spoke to them as children, careening toward the end of 2020, longing for a reassuring presence to say they were going to make it — they had struggled, but they were all, every one of them, worthy of love.
Hunter Biden might not be the son America dreams of having. Joe Biden might be the dad.