Even by the historically low standards of decorum and decency set by President Donald Trump’s pugilistic performance in his first presidential debate with former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday, the president’s attack on his opponent’s son for his past struggles with substance use was singular in its ugliness.
“Are you talking about Hunter?” Trump said late into the debate, interrupting Biden as he reflected on his late son, Beau Biden, who died of brain cancer in 2015. “Hunter got thrown out of the military. He was thrown out, dishonorably discharged for cocaine use—he didn’t have a job until you became vice president, and once you became vice president, he made a fortune.”
Trump’s callous and incorrect comments—Hunter Biden was not dishonorably discharged— about his opponent’s lone surviving son’s past drug use were clearly wielded to leave a mark, but Biden responded with defiance.