Hunter season

By Sam Patten | Oct 07, 2020

About a year ago, I paid a little over $100 to make a batch of T-shirts that read, "Hunter did nothing wrong!"

Yes, the intent was ironic, but no, they never sold out. One must have gotten into the hands of Hunter’s dad, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, because he used my exact phrase in the first debate last week. Since I did not trademark the phrase, I can’t charge royalties.

Up until now, Hunter Biden was, for me, the symbol of a double standard in American life. By virtue of his birth, opportunities seem to roll his way. By virtue of his position, consequences never did. He and John Kerry’s stepson were a year or two above me in college and ran with the jet set. The thought of either inspired in me the lyrics of the Credence Clearwater Revival song “Fortunate One.”

It didn’t become personal until I was criminally charged for my work in Ukraine. My crime was a seldom-enforced one, and my conviction sent shivers down the spines of most on Washington’s K Street, where the city’s lobbyists hang their hats. I am the ninth American to be convicted of failing to register as a foreign agent since World War II, but was the nature of my offense — advocating for my foreign client before U.S. interests — that unique?

Not really.

Moreover, I was qualified for my work in Ukraine, having closely studied the country’s politics for more than a decade, having already worked on a parliamentary election there, and being conversant in a local language. My appointment to the position had nothing to do with who my father was and I held onto it by working extremely hard in sometimes dangerous circumstances — not by sitting on a board.

Yet, pretending that life is fair is a fool’s game, and I have moved on. When I wore my last remaining T-shirt around Capitol Hill a couple of weeks ago, I attracted some delightfully freaked-out looks, so I guess its mission was finally accomplished.

Now that Joe has coined the phrase, I could make another batch and sell them, but I won’t. Here’s why:

Screwball relatives are a part and parcel of American politics from Billy Carter to Hugh Rodham, and Hunter is not on the ballot.

Joe has promised various firewalls in his administration should he be elected — true these did not work when he was vice president, but America is a land of second chances. I would have preferred to have heard Joe say Hunter has learned a lesson, but that’s not really his job. It’s Hunter’s.

Other than the debate, something else happened last week that caught my notice. Retired Gen. Stan McChrystal endorsed Biden. Why does that matter? The former commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan was unceremoniously fired for joking about Biden with his colleagues and a Rolling Stone reporter, who was pretending to be one of the guys, but of course, wasn’t. That ended a distinguished career of defending America.

If McChrystal can look beyond that to “put country first,” I can surely look past Hunter.

With his alleged receipt of $3.5 million from Elena Baturina, whom every Russian knows to be hideously corrupt and is a reputed money laundress, Hunter is no hero. Perhaps he shouldn’t simply be looked past, either. After all, a lifetime of this got him where he is today. Consider him a symbol — something broken within each of us, or within each of our families. Do we simply wish away his problems, or do we help him to mend them?

Still, during this weekend, I found myself grumbling about Hunter to a friend (who was present in the infamous Trump Tower meeting). “You get to start your life over,” my friend said. “He doesn’t. Be grateful.”

I guess we’ll see how apropos my remaining T-shirt is when it’s warm enough to wear it again. In the meantime, if Hunter is one of the best hits the Trump campaign has on Joe Biden, that’s probably good news for the Democrats.

Sam Patten is a recovering political consultant who was raised in Knox County and worked for Maine’s last three Republican senators.

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Comments (8)
Posted by: Gayle Murphy | Oct 15, 2020 15:59

This now looks even dumber than it did a couple of weeks ago when you wrote it. What are you going to tell us next, that Steve Scully is an honorable and honest reporter? Oh . . . That’s right


Go away swamp creature!


John Murphy

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Oct 08, 2020 13:17

Robert Williams In My Humble Opinion( imho) and I couldn't have said what you said better myself. If Mr Patten was really humble he would find a different vocation.

Posted by: SUZANNE WILLIAMS | Oct 08, 2020 10:17

I plead ignorance of what IMHO stands for. However, I agree that rage can be detrimental when seeking compromise. In my lifetime I do not recall a person like Trump and his acolytes who perpetuate and support  the deconstruction of America. How can you advise me of my behavior when any Republican who speaks out against Trump is marginalized and ridiculed. Well, I have to reconsider that statement because Cruz and Graham, who had unconscionable things said about them and their families are sucking up like wounded puppies. I will change that to most Republicans.

Why are people who speak against Trump supposed to be nice? Are we to forgive those who demean us?  Does anyone believe that it my obligation to forgive Trump and let bygones be bygones? Guess again!

Written by Robert Williams

Posted by: Gayle Murphy | Oct 08, 2020 09:45

Dunkle and Brower take away the previous conservative columnists and replace them with a convict who is a certifiable member of The Lincoln Project. Seems just about right.


John Murphy

Posted by: Sam Patten | Oct 08, 2020 09:10

I'm not bemoaning anything, Mr. Williams, I've taken full responsibility for my crime as the record shows. But I am in a unique position to say something about Hunter here which is why I bring it up, and my conclusion is that the former vice-president's son should not be an issue which, based on the general direction of your rant, should be welcome news to you. My basis for saying this is not the repetition of points I've heard on the news but actual experience. One thing all Americans should be careful of, IMHO, is not letting their rage at Trump go sideways. It's unseemly, and doesn't help the healing that will have to come.


Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | Oct 08, 2020 08:47

I would say Robert Williams hit the nail on the head. Patten must be seeking a pardon.

Posted by: Dennis Corkum | Oct 07, 2020 21:03

Well said.  Kind of surprised Village Soup would allow the articles from this "convicted" person.  The "other side of the aisle" posts were bad enough.  Let's hope for some sanity.

Posted by: SUZANNE WILLIAMS | Oct 07, 2020 19:44


Is this the best you could do? Makes no sense. Where are the Trump darlings. Is Hunter all the Republicans have? The article is so horrid I am surprised it was published. Where are the issues?

What REALLY pisses me off is your gloating, superior attitude.  Trump world fleeces America, spreads covid, dishonors our servicemen, tears nursing children from their mothers, tries voter suppression , attacks the post office, demeans  a real hero like Col. Vidman , exposes the Secret Service to the virus so the fool can take a ride, wants to appoint a fanatic to the Supreme Court, wants ACA gone, (why not write about the Republican plan--Get sick and die), will not debate because the Republican Party has no platform, attacks Medicaid, cannot negotiate a trade deal because China as well as North Korea are playing him like the sucker he is, loves it when Master Putin says Trump is so great and Russia uses   social media to praise him and meddle in our elections, fires Inspector Generals doing their jobs, appoints a bastard like Barr to use public money for Trump's personal lawsuits, has the most corrupt cabinet in history, hires any hack who will praise him, and puts his family in positions of power without passing security checks.

While this is or has occurred, Patten bemoans that he should not have been convicted of failing ot register as a foreign agent. Let's have a pity party and include Trump as well. You're disgusting.

You absolutely ignore the most crocked, vile, pathological liar,business failure, racist, hate monger,white supremacist,we have ever had in the Oval Office.

Written by Robert Williams


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