The Trump years have been rough on Democrats’ sensibilities, and their thinking has become increasingly addled as a result. The party has worked tirelessly to create an issue worthy of impeaching the president—Russia collusion, obstruction of justice, Stormy Daniels, tax returns. This week Democrats jettisoned all that in favor of the only issue that implicates their own front-runner for the nomination. Genius.
The one person who has been as much in the news this week as Donald Trump is former Vice President Joe Biden. It’s a dubious accomplishment. The only way to discuss Mr. Trump’s nonsmoking-gun phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is to acknowledge the subject of the ruckus: Mr. Biden’s glaring conflicts of interest during his vice presidency vis-à-vis his son Hunter’s business interests. Since Democrats insist on making this all about Ukraine, get ready for daily new revelations about the young Mr. Biden’s questionable activities and “Quid Pro Joe’s” involvement.
This is why the former vice president’s promises that this scandal will fade are nonsense. True, the media is doing double-duty on his behalf. Its general line is that Mr. Biden’s conflicts are fine; asking about them is corrupt. We are seeing a lot of stories about how Democrats are determined not to let Republicans “Hillary” Mr. Biden—a historical rewrite that places the blame for Mrs. Clinton’s notorious ethical travails on her rivals. The “fact checkers” are out in force with soothing assurances that there’s no evidence any Biden broke the law.
The problem for Joe Biden is that outright criminality is not necessary for these stories to stink. The appearance of conflict of interest is bad enough, and there is plenty of it. Mr. Biden knew his son worked for Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings, and knew the company faced scrutiny. He nonetheless in 2016 had the Ukrainian prosecutor who oversaw that investigation fired. In 2013 the vice president took Hunter on a government plane to China, where Hunter met with business associates, a moment that even a former senior Obama White House aide admitted in a July New Yorker profile “invited questions about whether [Hunter] ‘was leveraging access.’ ”