12 Sep Goodwill Hunt(er)ing
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck wrote a dramatic movie that won the 1998 Oscar for best original screenplay. Damon and Affleck both starred in the movie, along with Robin Willians (who won best supporting actor), among others. That movie was named Good Will Hunting.
Hunting for goodwill also describes the main plot of a more recent production featuring the aptly named Hunter Biden. Given that Mr. Biden’s father is running for reelection as President of the United States, this current show is regarded by some as one of the most riveting dramas of our time.
Like many things today, how much one cares about the Hunter Biden story depends on whether the viewer is wearing red- or blue-tinted glasses. For a clearer picture, let us take a look at it through purple lenses.
A brand is the combined name, image, and identity of a product. Coca-Cola, Apple, Ford, Taco Bell, and Nike are brands, each with an image and identity to go with its famous name.
Goodwill, in turn, is the value a brand brings to its owner. It is an accounting term often expressed in dollars. For example, one can only imagine how much money a company would have to pay Apple, Inc. to buy the goodwill entailed in the use of that famous name, logo, reputation, and customer base.
It has come to light that Hunter Biden – somewhat like Henry Ford – has turned his surname into a brand, which the President’s son has sold around the world. In fact, the Biden brand had enough goodwill internationally that the younger Mr. Biden (now 53 years old) was paid many millions of dollars for many things, including paintings, “consulting,” an autobiography, and serving on corporate boards. “There is no question that my name has opened doors,” Hunter Biden concedes.
The important question is, did Joe Biden do something wrong to facilitate his son’s use of the family name in Hunter’s business ventures? Even more to the point, did Joe Biden profit from influence peddling? A Republican-controlled House subcommittee, the U.S. Department of Justice, and now a special counsel appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland have been investigating this situation.
Relevant evidence found to date includes that (1) an email from a third party said 10 percent of a deal with a Chinese company would be “held by H for the big guy;” (2) an unverified FBI source claimed in 2020 that the founder of Burisma (a Ukrainian firm) paid Joe and Hunter $5 million each; (3) IRS whistleblowers say their investigation was thwarted by the Justice Department and IRS leaders; (4) Joe Biden, while he was vice president, participated in more than 20 speakerphone calls and was introduced by Hunter and his associate, Devon Archer, to their clients and prospective clients; and (5) in Hunter and Mr. Archer’s business, the Biden name was the “brand” that Hunter was “delivering,” a point which Joe Biden was brought in to help “drive home” by “engaging in pleasantries” at the dinners and on the phone calls, according to Mr. Archer’s testimony.*
*In addition, immaterial facts being stressed include that Hunter Biden apparently had or has a drug and alcohol abuse problem; cavorted with prostitutes; failed to register as a foreign agent despite his “work” for entities in China, Russia, and Ukraine; discarded a laptop that contained damaging files about him; did not timely or fully pay required income taxes; and, on a form required by federal law to buy a gun, dishonestly failed to declare his drug abuse. Nothing in this footnote, by itself or together, is relevant to the 2024 presidential election.
The only way Joe Biden could be fairly tied to any of the footnoted items immediately above is by overplaying his hand, and sadly, he appears to have done so. Innocently enough, Joe Biden all along has affirmed that he loves his son and has wanted to help him overcome his problems. Going another step, the president has said repeatedly, but without elaboration, that he is “proud” of Hunter. Proceeding further, however, Joe Biden told the press in May of this year that “my son has done nothing wrong.” The latter seems like a stretch, at best. Moreover, in a 2020 debate against Donald Trump, then-candidate Biden also had insinuated that the laptop was not Hunter’s. We now know that it was.
Most importantly, Joe Biden long maintained that he “never discussed business with my son.” Now, after the contrary evidence from Devon Archer, that disavowal has changed to he “was never in business with” his son. That is a different denial.*
*Before this blog’s Democrat-supporting and Trump-loathing readers write us more emails, we must make clear that, even if everything above reflects poorly on Joe Biden, his actions would be in no way comparable to the democracy-threatening wrongs of Donald Trump, which are far worse.
We hope the evidence summarized here will become more clear, comprehensive, and contextualized through the investigation of the new special prosecutor and other inquiries.
Keep an Objective Eye on the Relevant Evidence
When a politician’s child cashes in on his or her parent’s high place in government, that is one thing. It may be unseemly influence peddling, but, in our view, if naïve foreigners paid Hunter Biden to seek influence that did not really exist or come to fruition, that is too bad, so sad for them.
Having said this, there remains a greater-than-zero possibility that Joe Biden was more involved in Hunter’s business than the President has claimed. All of this is not just nothing. When the entirety of the evidence is gathered and made known to the public, it may amount to something that matters to American voters, be they Democrats, Republicans, or Independents.
Therefore, we all should disregard the irrelevant aspects of this story and focus objectively on the real facts as they develop. Principle Based Politics will continue to follow this drama.
Written by Quentin R. Wittrock, founder of Principle Based Politics.
Look for his posts each week, as this blog will explore and promote the idea of principle in politics, both as to individual elected leaders and our federal government as an institution.