It’s said in all the finest newspapers and no doubt many blogs fine and otherwise that one of Vice President Biden’s electoral liabilities will be the Trump campaign’s expected hammering of his son Hunter’s commercial contacts with various Ukrainian companies. The facts of the Hunter Biden matter paint a picture of someone trading on the perception of family influence — getting a well-paid gig for which he was at best not particularly qualified. If didn’t rise to the level of Billygate, it nonetheless has a bad odor.
Meanwhile, conventional wisdom also states that Trump could execute a double whammy, and accuse Biden of being ‘soft on China’. This, the theory goes, plays to the nativist Trump base, but also to other voters who object to China for being Communist, or for being a low-cost destination to which manufacturing jobs run away. Biden, a committed internationalist, will — conventional wisdom asserts — be unwilling to be sufficiently rude to a major trading partner and growing regional power. And even if Biden tries to out-Trump on the anti-China front, he won’t be able to do it well or convincingly both because his heart won’t be in it and anyway, he’ll be letting Trump dictate the terms of the debate.
But what if the conventional wisdom is wrong? What if both the ‘corrupt relatives’ issue and the so-called ‘China issue’ could actually rebound to hurt the Trump campaign more than the Biden campaign? What if, for example, it were the case that voters could be persuaded to notice that it is Trump’s family that has been getting benefits directly from the Chinese government?