Miranda Devine: Biden's ethical standards aren't worth a hill of beans -- the ugly truth about 'Honest Joe'

Biden watered down his family’s ethics rules immediately after the election

Now that the election is over and President Biden is installed in the White House, it’s safe for the truth about his character to dribble out. 

And what do you know? Turns out the ethical standards of "Honest Joe" aren’t worth a hill of beans. 

Starting with the obvious, Hunter Biden is still in business with the Chinese Communist Party. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki admitted a little over a week ago that the president’s wayward 51-year-old son still owns 10 percent of Chinese equity firm BHR Partners. 


So much for Joe’s promise that "no one in my family will . . . have any business relationship with anyone that relates to a foreign corporation or a foreign country. Period. Period. End of story." 

But that was B.E., aka before the election. Everything’s changed now. 

Biden watered down his family’s ethics rules immediately after the election to a vague statement about "appropriate distance" from the presidency. 

"My son, my family will not be involved in any business, any enterprise, that is in conflict with or appears to be in conflict, with the appropriate distance from, the presidency and government," he told CNN in December. 

Clear as mud. 

Joe’s younger brothers, Frank and Jim, know what the rubbery rules mean: The Biden family’s influence-peddling business can continue as before, only better, with an actual sitting president to sell. 


Frank wasted no time, with a two-page newspaper ad on Inauguration Day touting his relationship with "my brother" for the South Florida law firm that pays him as an adviser, even though he isn’t a lawyer. 

Of course, there is still that pesky issue of federal criminal investigations hanging over the heads of Hunter and Jim, another truth bomb that stayed hidden from the American people until after the election. 

But, wouldn’t you know it, on Day One as president, Joe installed the law partner of Hunter’s defense lawyer to lead the Justice Department’s criminal division, the very division that is investigating his son and brother. 

"The president is committed to ensuring we have the most ethically vigorous administration in history," Psaki told reporters at the start of the Biden presidency. 

It’s a refrain we hear often from Biden and the White House, about just how honest and ethical he is. 

But people who feel the need constantly to tell you how honest and ethical they are in life always turn out to be quite the opposite. 

In an interview with People magazine published on Monday, the president and first lady Jill Biden gushed that Joe was restoring "trust" in government and boasted about his unimpeachable ethical standards. 

Asked about Hunter, Joe came up with a whole new formulation for Biden family ethics rules: "No one in our family and extended family is going to be involved in any government undertaking or foreign policy." Hmmm. What happened to the ban on foreign business relationships? 

Then Joe told People a curious tale, which raised more doubts than confidence in his personal integrity: "I remember years ago an accountant said, ‘You know, you can charge part of the gas you use in the vehicle at your home.’ And I said ‘No.’ 

"Here’s how I look at it: The foul line is 15 feet away from the basket. Never get me closer than 17 feet, because it really is a matter of the public trust." 

More from Opinion

Look, if you have a legitimate business expense, such as the fuel you use while driving for work, then you are entitled to be reimbursed, as millions of Americans are each year. Few things are more black-and-white in expense claims than gas mileage. 

Perhaps Joe is so wealthy that 57.5 cents per mile is chicken feed, but he didn’t say "No" to his accountant’s advice out of concern about the ethical ambiguity of claiming for gas, because there isn’t any. 

There is no need to move his supposed ethical "foul line" two feet farther away than everyone else’s, because the rules are utterly straightforward. 

He was pretending, as he has his entire career, that he is more honest than the average Joe. 

So the only rational response to such ostentatious virtue signaling is skepticism. 


It’s not as if you have to peer far into the past to find a genuinely dubious ethical decision by Joe. 

Just last Sunday, he promoted Hunter’s new book in a CBS interview on national TV played before a Super Bowl audience of 96 million, in the very week the publisher launched the marketing campaign. 

Even Obama administration ethics czar Walter Schaub said it was wrong, in since-deleted tweets blasting Joe for joining Hunter’s "book promotion tour . . . This is not the way to model strong government ethics." 

Nope. Nor is the fact that another hyperbolic statement of self-virtue from "Honest Joe" has fallen apart in less than four weeks. 

The immediate reaction to Biden deputy press secretary TJ Ducklo hissing "I will destroy you" at Politico reporter Tara Palmeri, and deriding her with sexist vulgarities, was to send him home for a week without pay. 

It was a far cry from Joe’s Inauguration Day threat to staffers: "Disrespect or talk down to someone, I will fire you on the spot, no ifs, no buts." 

On Friday, the hapless Psaki tried to justify Ducklo’s abuse as a natural consequence of Politico reporting on his "private life." 


The penny finally dropped Saturday night and Ducklo resigned, but the delay says it all. 

Talk is cheap in the Biden White House.