If you wait long enough sooner or later a study will show up that supports (or at least, appears to support) any belief anyone may have no matter how preposterous that belief may be. For example, the so-called French Paradox, the notion that drinking red wine would lead to a decrease in heart disease, gained traction in the 1990s. This intelligence led to an inevitable glut on the red wine market and a general bacchanalia. After all, more is better, yes? That the connection has been largely discredited is not so widely known, and the damage has already been done.
Such a phenomenon is a species of something called bias-confirmation, and it’s a thing we all need to be in ceaseless vigilance against. We are understandably a bit too hasty to believe things that support our prejudices without undertaking appropriate due diligence.
As if it’s not hard enough by itself, such a habit of circumspection is seldom rewarded. I can attest to this from experience. My goal is to resist bias confirmation, and in this I am at my most unpopular when I am at my most successful. If, for example, I appear to always be on the side of the Democratic Party, it’s because the Democratic Party is usually right, not because I give the Party a rubber stamp in all things. I prefer to be on the side of truth, and that sometimes means I have to concede things that are not always in the Party’s favor. I am therefore frequently in trouble with the self-anointed commissars of orthodoxy.
But the richest field for bias confirmation can be found among Republicans. Give them ninety nine pieces of evidence that indicate their cherished president is guilty of corruption and it’s the hundredth piece, the one that seems to spuriously clear him, that they will hold up in angry triumph. Indeed, sometimes they don’t even feel the need to do that much. An investigation by itself can be enough. Hillary Clinton was investigated eleven times for her role in the Benghazi massacre and she was cleared eleven times. But the mere fact that she was investigated is sufficient for Republicans, and “Benghazi!” is still shouted out as an unjust mortification against her.
This is why we need to be different. This is why we cannot yield to bias confirmation. Our willingness to admit when we are wrong is what makes us better than Republicans. This is why most Americans are not Republicans, and the fact that Republicans are in power is due, not to their popularity, but to their willingness to cheat and break the law. We stand above Republicans because we are better than they are.
This is why we need to admit that Hunter Biden’s elevation to the board of directors of Barisma was wrong, and it was wrong because of how it appeared. We need to avoid both wrongdoing and the appearance of wrongdoing. It should have never happened, and it would never have happened had he not been the son of the Vice President of the United States.
But that is all that was wrong about it, nothing more. Republicans, who are inveterate cheaters and liars, needed more than that. Had they had equivalent rectitude all they would have needed to do was to expose nepotism. One sideways glance at Ivanka, Donald Jr and Eric would have put a hasty end to that. Even Republicans knew that. So they unleashed a disinformation campaign so shallow and transparently weak that it could only be supported by the rabid bias confirmation of Trump’s low-information, drooling base of cretins. It was, in the words of Orwell, believed by that base “passionately, fanatically, with a furious desire to track down, denounce and vaporize anyone who should” suggest otherwise.
The truth of the Biden matter is really quite simple and can be summarized easily. As Vice President, Joe Biden was instrumental in getting Ukrainian special prosecutor Viktor Shokin fired for corruption. Shokin was a prosecutor in name only and took money from would-be targets of prosecution in exchange for not prosecuting them. Biden told the then president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, that his country would not receive any further foreign aid until Shokin was gone. Biden was doing the will of the American state department and U.S. Foreign policy, the will of the European Union, the will of the International Monetary Fund and the will of anti-corruption activists inside Ukraine. It was all above board, done out in the open and the right thing to do. Accordingly, Shokin was fired.
None of this worked in the favor of Biden’s son Hunter, quite the opposite. It wasn’t that Shokin was investigating Burisma, as the Republicans would have you believe, it’s that he wasn’t investigating Burisma (and other companies and persons) that got him fired. So the whole notion that Biden was helping his son is a complete, shameful lie.
But because such lies can only be exposed by explanations that are too long for the pathetic attention spans of Trump’s low-information base, they work. The lawyers for Trump’s impeachment defense know this and, having no integrity themselves, are happy to cynically give oxygen to such lies.
What’s more, the Biden boondoggle serves a dual sinister purpose for the Trump pirate ship. Not only does it distract attention away from the real criminal, Donald Trump, it discredits the Biden candidacy and falsely plants in the mind of the voter the suspicion that maybe there really is something rotten with this whole Burisma business after all.
This is the sad state that the world of lies, corruption and intrinsic dishonesty in politics has brought us to. And it will never, ever go away until the corrupting influence of money is done away with. Only when it becomes illegal to give money of any denomination to a political campaign, and all campaigns are uniformly financed through the government, will such nonsense ever cease. Both political parties are guilty of allowing this absurd inequity to continue.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.