While the pundits may dismiss Vice President Joe Biden’s pained expressions and hyperbolic claims as just “Joe being Joe,” there is ample reason for voters of all stripes to be concerned with claims last week. With an electorate so distrusting of Washington (and rightfully so), Joe Biden did absolutely nothing to instill confidence that the next four years will be better than the last.
There is one line, buried at the end of a rambling answer, which not only defined the Vice President’s debate strategy, but also his belief that his folksy, blue-collar personality gives him license to send facts on vacation:
“Look, folks, use your common sense. Who do you trust on this -- a man who introduced a bill that would raise it 40 -- $6,400 a year; knowing it and passing it, and Romney saying he'd sign it, or me and the president?”
Of course, the irony here is that Biden is talking about trust while intentionally misleading the American people. As the Heritage Foundation’s Rea Hederman explained, “Any claim, in the media or elsewhere, that uses the CBO evaluation of the 2011 Ryan plan is fundamentally flawed and erroneous.”
For emphasis, Paul Ryan added, “This is what politicians do when they don't have a record to run on: try to scare people from voting for you.”
Not only did Biden attempt to do just that on Medicare with numerous thoroughly debunked myths (more on that in a minute), but he also made some rather absurd assertions on Libya and the Supreme Court.
When asked about the terrorist attack in Benghazi and the assassination of four Americans, Biden denied any knowledge of security concerns in Libya: “Well, we weren't told they wanted more security there. We did not know they wanted more security again.” Of course, just a day earlier State Department officials testified there were indeed requests for more security.
The next day, White House press secretary Jay Carney went into damage control, offering the weak explanation that Biden “was speaking about himself, the president and the White House. He was not referring to the administration.”
Hillary Clinton was not the only high-level Obama official hit by the Biden bus. During the debate, Biden explained, “we said exactly what the intelligence community told us that they knew” about the terrorist attack in Libya. Then, without a second thought, Biden went from using the intelligence community as a scapegoat to using them a justification for the administration’s approach to Iran. It was the politics of convenience.
In recent years, nothing has screamed politics like the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice. Here too, Biden made news. While proclaiming a Romney administration would appoint justices that would “outlaw abortion,” Biden guaranteed “that will not happen” in an Obama administration because they’ve already picked two “good justices.” Ryan pounced, asking the Vice President if there was an abortion litmus test placed on the justices.
Biden, sensing danger, quickly backpedalled, saying they “did not come with an agenda.” However, the damage may have already been done. The guy who brushed off a Ryan gaffe joke by proclaiming “I always say what I mean” inadvertently implied the Obama administration has a pro-abortion litmus test for its judicial nominees.
Since both Ryan and Mitt Romney seem to relish discussing Medicare, it’s worth noting a few more of Biden’s baseless claims. Again, he equated conservative efforts to reform Medicare to the implementation of a “voucher program.” It’s poll-tested lingo that is, without a doubt, completely false. There is no proposal that would give seniors a “small printed piece of paper…that may be exchanged for goods or services.” Biden may think “facts matter,” but clearly he does not hold simple definitions in the same high regard.
By most accounts, partisans on both sides walked away from last week’s debate feeling as though their respective missions were accomplished. Over the next three weeks, however, Biden’s “loose talk” and ambivalence toward the truth may very well confirm Americans’ deepest suspicions of our elected leaders. And if that happens, the Biden 2016 chatter will likely be coming from Republicans, not his fellow Democrats.