Joe Biden, Jill Biden, and Hunter Biden
President Joe Biden, Jill Biden, and Hunter Biden hug during the 59th Presidential Inauguration ceremony in Washington, DC. Photo credit: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff /Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0)

The people who think Joe Biden should not seek reelection primarily focus on his advanced age. But there is a much more compelling reason why he shouldn’t run again: the wellbeing of his son Hunter.

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A recent poll published in Britain’s Daily Mail asked likely US voters to describe the different presidential contenders in single word. The results were hilarious and sobering. For Donald Trump, for example, the top five words independent voters came up with were “criminal,” “disgusting,” “asshole,” “crazy,” and “liar.”

Hard to argue with any of that.

The same voters described Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Trump’s main rival for the GOP nomination, as “evil,” “leader,” “Florida,” “fascist,” and “unsure.”

Finally, there was President Joe Biden.

In his case, one word dominated all others: “old.” In fact, if you look at the “word clouds” accompanying the poll (and you really should), you see that voters felt more strongly about Biden’s age than any of the other characteristics of any candidate. And, if you think that “old” is a neutral term, then keep in mind that “senile” and “dementia” also made the top five (together with “incompetent” and “corrupt”).

In the case of the two Republicans, at least their own voters have some positive associations, which makes sense because the GOP is now a cult that is detached from reality.

For Biden, however, “old” dominates even among Democrats (followed by some more favorable descriptions like “competent” and “steady”).

Here is the point: Voters don’t want any of these guys to run.

Biden is the only one of the three who is in a position to listen to them. And he really should.

There are plenty of reasons — both personal and political — why he should call it quits after one term and make room for someone else.

First, he should consider his legacy.

Joe Biden has done enough for his country. He is the one who vanquished Trump at a very perilous moment in US history. The only thing that could tarnish that now would be if he were also the one to let him back into the White House.

It is pretty clear that voters don’t want that to happen, but they might just vote for Trump if the alternative is a doddering octogenarian. And, fairly or not, that is how the president is seen by most voters.

Biden can’t change the fact that he is 80, and he won’t be able to convince voters that he isn’t too old. He’s not going to go clubbing or play basketball or ride Harleys to show how youthful he still is.

Instead, like any president, he will spend the next 18 months under a microscope, and any “senior moment” will be amplified. Any stumble or misspeak, any joke gone wrong, or any pause that is a tad too long will be used to reinforce the perception of Biden that Americans already have: That dude is just too old.

Speaking of that microscope, there is another, much more compelling, reason why Biden should not seek reelection: His son Hunter.

Because, if Joe Biden runs again, he risks losing him.

Why? Because of three absolute certainties.

First, there is no doubt that this president is a family man and that he loves his son deeply. And how could he not? We are all familiar with the many personal tragedies Joe Biden had to endure and the loved ones he lost — first, his wife and firstborn daughter in a car accident, then more recently, his other son, Beau, to cancer.

So, it makes all the sense in the world that his surviving children Hunter and Ashley are even more precious to him.

It is also obvious that Hunter is a screwup. Who knows why. Maybe that was always going to be the case after he survived the car accident that killed his mom and his sister. Maybe he experienced a trauma or felt a sense of guilt that was never resolved.

Maybe it was tough growing up in the shadow of someone like Beau, who was accomplished and beloved.

Maybe Hunter is just a loser.

In any case, he’s clearly a troubled soul, a bit of a grifter with questionable morals, and someone who has struggled with substance abuse.

Finally, it is beyond obvious that Republicans will never stop going after Hunter Biden as long as his dad is in office.

Hunter is the low-hanging fruit. He is the easiest way to get to Joe Biden.

There is an entire army of right-wing investigators (some with subpoena powers) out there, watching his every move and hoping he stumbles. And as you are reading this, the same people are digging through his past in the hope of finding dirt on the president’s son.

Therefore, even if Hunter became a model citizen right now, it stands to reason that there is still plenty of incriminating information buried somewhere that would get him in trouble and embarrass his father.

It also seems likely that Joe Biden has no clue what else is out there.

How many times has Hunter invoked his dad’s name to get a business deal? Are there any other sources of income he hasn’t divulged? What about past relationships that could come back to haunt him? In which countries was he active? Is he susceptible to blackmail? Could any of his former business partners turn on him to gain some kind of benefit?

It is also important to keep in mind that, once Hunter Biden enters into his plea deal for two tax offenses in July, the president’s son is going to spend a couple of years on probation. How do you think that’s going to go?

Going forward, all kinds of people will try to ensnare Hunter by tempting him with drugs, hookers, shady money-making opportunities, and anything else that might get him in trouble… all to get to his dad.

And when that happens, what is the president going to do? Will a man who has lost two children already let his son go to prison if all he has to do is sign a pardon? That seems unlikely.

But what kind of message does that send? Biden was supposed to be the guy who put an end to the nepotism and self-dealing that was a staple of the reign of Donald Trump.

If Hunter gets into trouble and Joe makes that trouble go away, isn’t he then the same, and don’t the Democrats lose the moral high ground?

And it almost seems inevitable that this would happen. It’s not as though the president can stick him in a rehab facility for six years.

In truth, there is only one way for the president to remove that target from his son’s back, and that’s not running again.


  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a writer, editor, former congressional reporter, and director of the WhoWhatWhy Mentor Apprentice Program. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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