Emmett Tyrrell

While interviewing him on what appeared to be a bus, Couric evoked this response from the Democrats' vice presidential candidate: "When the stock market crashed (in 1929), Franklin Roosevelt got on television and didn't just talk about, you know, the princes of greed. He said, 'Look, here's what happened.'" Actually, Roosevelt was not president until 1933, and in 1929, there was no "television audience" because there was no television available to consumers. By now, all Biden watchers have had a good laugh at his expense on this one, but the laugh is on Couric, too. Her round, girlish, expressionless face revealed no hint that she was aware of the senator's botched historical reference.

So Sen. Biden, in one month, reminded us that he is a phony and an airhead, but in September, he also reminded us that he is a plagiarist. In his 1988 presidential bid, he was caught lifting from British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock the Welshman's biographical treacle, adapting it for an American audience thus: "My ancestors who worked in the coal mines in Northeast Pennsylvania and would come up after 12 hours and play football for four hours." In Kinnock's version, his Welsh ancestors "could work eight hours underground and then come up and play football." This was a dreadful humiliation for Sen. Biden, made all the worse when it was revealed that he had faked his academic record and been accused of plagiarism in law school.

After being forced out of the 1988 race, the senator, one would have thought, never again would mention his "coal-mining" heritage. Yet Sept. 21, while addressing an audience filled with coal miners in Virginia, he fibbed: "I am a hard coal miner -- anthracite coal, Scranton, Pa. That's where I was born and raised." He was never a coal miner, and most of his early life was spent in Delaware.

Amazing as it sounds, all the recent pratfalls were committed by the Democrats' vice presidential nominee in but one month. Nonetheless, as we enter October, it is Gov. Palin whom the media deem controversial.

Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
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