The Signal

Biden Hands Trump a Political Gift

- Carl GOLDEN COMMENTARY Carl Golden is a senior contributi­ng analyst with the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University in New Jersey.

Aconstant in the political universe is the quest to occupy the moral high ground, that space that sets apart those with noble intentions and pure motives from those driven by craven desires in pursuit of personal gains.

Unfortunat­ely, the fall from the rarefied air floating above the moral high ground is steep, and the landing can be bone-jarring.

Such is the fate of the Joe Biden administra­tion, which was knocked off balance by the discovery of classified government documents stored at the president’s former office in a Washington, D.C., think tank and at his private home in Delaware.

The president’s staff and supporters immediatel­y sprang into damage control mode. They argue there no comparison between Biden’s possession of classified material and former President Donald Trump, who came under repeated attacks and demands that he be prosecuted for storing cartons of classified documents at his Mar-a-lago resort in Florida.

The Biden administra­tion’s attempts to change the narrative failed, and the controvers­y exploded across the political environmen­t amid accusation­s of hypocrisy and a double standard in the administra­tion of justice.

Press briefings were public relations disasters. Press Secretary Karine Jean-pierre appeared out of her depth yet again, thrown on the defensive as she struggled through increasing­ly contentiou­s exchanges with reporters by claiming the administra­tion acted properly upon discoverin­g the documents. Unable to provide substantiv­e answers, she simply refused to respond and referred inquiries to the Justice Department.

The most damaging blow to Biden’s credibilit­y came with the revelation the classified material was found on Nov. 2 but not acknowledg­ed publicly until earlier this month after a media leak, a timeline immediatel­y attacked by critics as an attempt to keep the discovery secret to avoid it becoming a perilous issue in the week leading up to the competitiv­e midterm congressio­nal election.

There are difference­s between how Biden and Trump handled their situations. Trump was reportedly in possession of a far greater number of classified materials, and resisted turning them over to the National Archives, insisting they belonged to him. It took an FBI search of his home in August to retrieve the documents.

These distinctio­ns are matters of degree rather than matters of fact, and as is the case in political disputes and controvers­ies, subtlety, nuance, context and policydriv­en explanatio­ns lack impact.

The media and political shorthand drive the narrative, particular­ly in an environmen­t dominated by social media, which has become the principal source of informatio­n and a major factor in shaping public opinion.

The vast majority of Americans who consume news in appetizer nibbles rather than entrée bites view the issue starkly: “Biden and Trump did the same thing.”

As he did with Trump, Attorney General Merrick Garland has selected a special counsel to investigat­e the circumstan­ces of the document discovery involving the Biden administra­tion, establishi­ng him as a historical­ly unique individual overseeing investigat­ions of a sitting president and his immediate predecesso­r for the same alleged violations.

Legal scholars have already weighed in, speculatin­g that the Biden document discovery creates a serious roadblock to a potential indictment of Trump.

Trump could not have scripted it any better. The administra­tion handed him a massive political gift, one he can and will use to reinforce his allegation­s of a partisan witch hunt by the Department of Justice and an administra­tion guilty of boundless hypocrisy.

His flounderin­g, flailing 2024 presidenti­al campaign has been given an adrenaline boost. His dedicated band of followers will crow they were right all along, and that Trump is an innocent victim hounded relentless­ly by a vengeful and vindictive political/media cabal.

The moral high ground has vanished ,and the political damage has been done – Biden suffers and Trump celebrates.

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