Hunter Biden’s story is a shabby one.
By his own admission, detailed in his memoir, the surviving son of President Joe Biden is an addict who has made addict’s choices. Such choices often bring heartache to families and other loved ones, violate basic ethical concepts and break the law.
Hunter Biden’s addict choices landed him in legal trouble serious enough to warrant having him enter a plea deal. In that agreement, he pleaded guilty to federal misdemeanor charges that he failed to pay taxes.
In return, a federal felony charge that he owned a firearm illegally likely will be dismissed, provided he complies with certain conditions.
He will do no prison time.
The plea deal has enraged conservatives, who contend that the younger Biden is being treated too leniently.
They’re right—but, as so often is the case, not in the way they think.
The most serious charge the president’s son faced was the gun charge. His apologists argue that the law he violated is rarely used except in circumstances far more extreme than this one. This, they say, is proof that Hunter Biden’s family connection to power and prominence worked against him.
Perhaps, but the reality is that the charge went away because the same conservatives who want the younger Biden’s head served on a platter made it difficult, possibly even, impossible to convict him.
Biden’s lawyers planned to offer a Second Amendment defense to the felony charge. In doing so, they would have relied on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling drafted by Justice Clarence Thomas, no friend of the Biden family or Democratic politicians in general.
Just last year, Thomas wrote the majority opinion in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. vs. Bruen. That ruling was informed by the National Rifle Association’s reasoning—advanced through years of advocacy and litigation—that deadly weapons should be made available in vending machines and the people who purchase them should not be compelled in any way to store or use them safely.
Thomas’s opinion decreased the chances of prosecutors securing a conviction on the gun charge immeasurably, so they took what they could get.
In other words, conservatives provided Hunter Biden with the key to unlock his jail cell.
There may be poetic justice in that but there’s no justice in the other part of the plea deal.
Because of that plea agreement, we now know that the younger Biden failed to pay more than $100,000 in taxes in 2017 and 2018.
That’s about half-again as much as the median household income in the United States.
The fact that cheating on his taxes and shifting more than six figures worth of the weight of running the country onto other people’s shoulders merits only a misdemeanor conviction is a crime.
I felt that way when it was revealed that former President Donald Trump had evaded paying taxes on his hush-money payment to a porn star.
I feel the same way about Hunter Biden doing it.
Wrong is wrong.
The party label of the person who does the wrong in question shouldn’t matter.
When guys like Donald Trump and Hunter Biden shirk their responsibilities as taxpaying citizens, other people—many of whom earn less than either man spends on drycleaning his suits—must make up the difference.
The Hunter Bidens and Donald Trumps of the world think this makes them look slick and smart—savvy operators who figured out how to game the system.
It just makes them appear pathetic, scavengers who feed off the efforts of people more hardworking and responsible than they are.
Conservatives think Hunter Biden got off easy.
They’re right about that.
But the fact that he was able to duck the gun charge is their own fault. If they hadn’t spent two generations trying to turn this country into a shooter’s paradise, Hunter Biden likely would be facing prison time and America would be a much safer place.
As for the tax evasion charges, it wouldn’t have broken my heart to see the younger Biden locked up for that offense.
Maybe he even could have shared a prison cell with a certain former president who also hates to pay taxes.