If Sarah Palin had made just one of the wildly inaccurate statements smugly uttered by Sen. Joe Biden in last week's vice presidential debate, there would have been 3-inch headlines in newspapers across America. (I can almost hear Katie Couric asking me, "Which newspapers?")
These weren't insignificant errors, such as when Biden said, "Look, all you have to do is go down Union Street with me in Wilmington or go to Katie's restaurant or walk into Home Depot with me where I spend a lot of time, and you ask anybody in there whether or not the economic and foreign policy of this administration has made them better off in the last eight years."
It turns out that Katie's restaurant, where Biden gets his feel for the average American, closed 20 years ago. The only evidence that he spends any time in Home Depot is that it appears that a pipe wrench fell on his head one too many times.
Palin would surely have been forced to withdraw from the ticket had she said something like that, but most of Biden's errors were not trifling mistakes like these. They were lengthy Lyndon LaRouche-like disquisitions that were pure fantasy from beginning to end.
For example, Biden said about Hezbollah: "When we kicked -- along with France -- we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon." Hezbollah was never kicked out of Lebanon.
He continued: "I said and Barack said, 'Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don't, Hezbollah will control it.'" This is madness -- Lebanon is not a NATO country, nor had any NATO country been attacked by Lebanon.
Somebody please tell me that Biden wasn't picked for the Democrat ticket based on his knowledge of foreign policy.
Biden also stoutly denied that Obama ever said he would sit down with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Liberals find it hilarious that McCain can't use a computer keyboard on account of his war injuries, but Biden is apparently unaware of the Internet, because there are clips all over the Internet of Obama saying exactly that during the CNN/YouTube debate last year.
Biden might have remembered that debate since: (1) He was there, and (2) he later attacked Obama's answer, telling the National Press Club in August 2007: "Would I make a blanket commitment to meet unconditionally with the leaders of each of those countries within the first year I was elected president? Absolutely, positively, no."
And that's still not all! Obama's own Web site says: "Obama supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions."
Somebody please tell me that Biden wasn't picked for the Democrat ticket based on his ability to remember well-known facts.
Biden also gave a long speech at the debate on vice president Dick Cheney's "dangerous" belief that "he's part of the legislative branch." The great constitutional scholar Biden cited Article I of the Constitution as proof that Cheney "works in the executive branch" and has "no authority relative to the Congress." Biden huffily added: "He should understand that. Everyone should understand that."
Palin would have had to deny that Alaska is a state in the union in order to say something comparably stupid.
Article II, not I, describes the executive branch. Someone tell Biden, who is supposed to be a lawyer. Apart from getting the Articles of the Constitution mixed up, what on earth does Biden mean when he says that the vice president "has no authority relative to Congress," apart from breaking ties?
The Constitution makes him president of the senate every day of the week. I realize that Biden may not be able to count to two, but Article I says the vice president is president of one of the two houses of Congress -- the one Biden is in, for crying out loud -- which is what you might call "authority relative to Congress."
Somebody please tell me that Biden wasn't picked for the Democrat ticket based on his knowledge of the Constitution.
In one especially hallucinatory answer, Biden authoritatively stated: "With Afghanistan, facts matter, Gwen. ... We spend more money in three weeks on combat in Iraq than we spent on the entirety of the last seven years that we have been in Afghanistan building that country."
According to the Congressional Research Service, since 9/11, we've spent $172 billion in Afghanistan and $653 billion in Iraq. The most money spent in Iraq came in 2008, when we have been spending less than $3 billion a week. So by Biden's calculations, we've spent only about $9 billion "on the entirety of the last seven years that we have been in Afghanistan building that country." There isn't even a "9" in $172 billion.
Somebody please tell me that Biden wasn't picked for the Democrat ticket based on his knowledge of math.
In the same answer, Biden went on to claim that "John McCain voted against a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty that every Republican has supported."
The last nuclear test ban treaty the Senate voted on was the one Clinton signed in the '90s. As The New York Times editorialized on the Senate vote a few years later: "Last week, Senate Republicans thundered 'no' to the nuclear test ban treaty, handing the White House its biggest defeat since health care in 1994." Forty-nine Republicans voted against the treaty; only four liberal Republicans voted for it. That's the treaty Biden says "every Republican has supported."
Somebody please tell me that Biden wasn't picked for the Democrat ticket based on his ability to function as vice president.