Paul Greenberg

Talk about role reversal: Before their vice-presidential debate, Sarah Palin was supposed to be the airhead and Joe Biden the expert. After she stole the show, it was hard to remember he was even there.

But there were some things Joe Biden said that stuck. Some unbelievable things. There was a point where they came in such a rush I couldn't scribble them down fast enough. So I looked at the transcript later to see if I could possibly have heard right. Unfortunately, I had.

Check out Senator Biden's compact history of why this president has been so completely wrong about the Middle East:

"He insisted on elections on the West Bank, when I said, and others said, and Barack Obama said, ŒBig mistake. Hamas will win. You'll legitimize them.' What happened? Hamas won. When we kicked - along with France, we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon - I said and Barack said, ŒMove NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don't know - if you don't, Hezbollah will control it. Now what's happened? Hezbollah is a legitimate part of the government in the country immediately north of Israel. The fact of the matter is, the policy of this administration has been an abject failure."

Huh? What Middle East can Senator Biden have been talking about? The one on Mars? Hamas never won an election on the West Bank; that's the base of the rival Palestinian faction under Abu Abbas, who is still tenuously in control there, thanks to Israeli backing.

France and the United States never kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon. Can Barack Obama and Joe Biden have ever proposed, out loud, seriously, sending NATO troops into Lebanon? Like NATO would ever go there. It's been hard enough keeping NATO forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Didn't we lose enough Marines (220) in that horrendous bomb blast that destroyed their barracks in Beirut back in 1983? Why go back in there?

And what's this about Hezbollah's having now become a legitimate part of the government in Lebanon? It's long been part of the government there, legitimate and illegitimate, and its forces continue to control a large swath of that splintered country.

Can you imagine the fun the mainstream media would have had with Sarah Palin if she had managed to cram so many non-facts into so short a space?

Senator Biden made a number of other strange assertions - he's never at a loss for them - but at least he spaced the others out.

It's not just that some of the things he says aren't right; they're not even wrong. They're just bizarre. But he says them with such assurance, with such easy certainty, with the absolute shamelessness of those who have no idea how off-base they are. There's one in every coffee shop.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.