Oh, to be the child or relative of a top Biden administration official.
Sure, we know the family of President Joe Biden the best -- especially Hunter Biden, who happens to be the world's most successful failson.
We thought Hunter's career of trading on the family name and selling influence was over; he'd become an amateur artist, creating the abstract equivalent of macaroni art usually seen at starving artist sales. Then we found out he was getting a show in a gallery. Then we found out the artworks from that show were selling for between $75,000 to $500,000.
There's the Hunter Biden we know and love.
It's not just Hunter, though.
Ella Emhoff isn't quite as blatant as the first failson of the United States. She's the 22-year-old stepdaughter of Kamala Harris -- and lo and behold, she managed to get a major gig as a model with Balenciaga at Paris Fashion Week last week.
Ella Emhoff, who is Vice President Kamala Harris’ stepdaughter, walked for Balenciaga’s Couture Fall 2021 show. pic.twitter.com/UtTqf6Z1X8
— Couture is Beyond (@CoutureIsBeyond) July 7, 2021
According to Paper Magazine, Emhoff -- the daughter of Harris' husband, Doug Emhoff, and his first wife -- walked in front of Kanye West at the show.
Kanye in a face mask, Balenciaga couture, the second daughter of Bushwick. Are we missing anything? https://t.co/zQhsVyWqMv
— Paper Magazine (@papermagazine) July 10, 2021
"[T]hank you/congrats to @demnagvasalia and the whole balenciaga team. truly amazing </3," she wrote on Instagram.
This isn't the kind of thing a novice model does. Then again, presidential and vice presidential daughters tend to get plum assignments that they don't necessarily earn -- and not just Democrats. Jenna Bush, much as I think she's done admirably for herself, probably didn't deserve a spot on NBC's "Today."
However, the Biden administration is setting a new record for this kind of thing.
Hunter Biden is the poster child for surviving drug abuse, having no formal artistic training and still thinking no one will look askance at the fact he's asking up to half a million dollars for his work. Surely you concede he's earned it, though, right? Even though no one in the art world takes him particularly seriously.
According to Artnet, Artsy editor Scott Indrisek said “the process here seems more important than the finished product.”
Indrisek added that “I guess it’s important that wounded men of a certain age and privileged background have the opportunity to find themselves creatively … it’s just too bad that everyone else is expected to pay attention."
“There’s nothing unique about his work, and I have far better abstract painters,” Margery Goldberg, owner of Zenith Gallery in D.C., said. “The only reason in the entire world this guy [might get] a show at a New York City gallery is because he is the president’s son. They wouldn’t have touched him with a 10-foot pole.
He has a long way to climb, particularly given his lack of credentials and the money he's demanding.
Emhoff's problem isn't quite as glaring. She went from the Parsons School of Design -- one of the top schools for fashion -- to a plum career steppingstone at Balenciaga.
However, she managed to get massive amounts of fawning media coverage over the gig, something that likely wouldn't have happened if this weren't Kamala Harris' stepdaughter.
And despite Joe Biden's promise to conduct ethical firewalls, this clearly isn't the case. For instance, despite the president's vow that his family wouldn't occupy top spots in the administration, the new Biden team is clearly ethically problematic.
Take Stephanie Psaki, sister of White House press secretary Jen and a senior adviser for the Department of Health and Human Services.
“She took on her new role, where her official title is senior adviser on human rights and gender equity in the Office of Global Affairs, this March,” the New York Post reported.
The wife of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, meanwhile, is Evan Ryan, the White House Cabinet secretary. The Post reported that she “serves as the main point of contact between the White House and the other departments and agencies in the federal government.”
In short, it's a hive of problematic hires -- and that's just within the administration.
Hunter Biden and Ella Emhoff, while presenting two wildly different problems, still present problems.
Hunter is a self-taught artist whose paintings wouldn't be worth a dime if they were painted by someone who didn't have the last name Biden. He's now selling the paintings for up to $500,000 and we'll never know who bought them -- and we're relying on the White House's flimsy agreement to prevent the art gallery ownership and employees from telling Hunter who bought them, not to mention hoping the individuals don't contact Hunter before or after the sale.
The whole thing is ludicrous, particularly when you consider this is a guy who's sold influence for money to get hookers and blow before.
Ella Emhoff doesn't have that kind of failson resume. She's a young woman who's graduated from the Parsons School of Design at the New School, which is essentially Stanford if you want to go into fashion and choose to go to design school. (According to the QS World University Rankings, it is the third-most-prestigious design school in the world, first in the United States.)
Even then, getting a major role in the Balenciaga show at Paris Fashion Week after just graduating has a lot to do with who she is -- and the access her employers potentially have with her mother must have come up at the office at some point.
And then there was the fawning media coverage for a minor role, albeit one she normally wouldn't have gotten were she not connected.
— POPSUGAR (@POPSUGAR) July 7, 2021
Entertainment Tonight: "Kamala Harris’ Stepdaughter Ella Emhoff Slays in Stunning Paris Fashion Week Debut: See the Pic!"
CNN: "Paris Fashion Week: Ella Emhoff's debut and more highlights from the couture shows." (That was really the highlight of the week.)
Glamour: "We're in awe."
We're in awe. https://t.co/b4vxct7KsK
— Glamour (@glamourmag) July 8, 2021
She's certainly not the first to get this kind of ethically questionable treatment, and she's not the least talented. However, yet again, someone in the orbit of the administration is getting treatment that most other politician's children wouldn't get -- and there are potential ethical issues raised by it.