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The Gaffable Joe Biden

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

WASHINGTON -- Recently, in Hanover, New Hampshire, former Vice President Joe Biden -- the gaffable Joe Biden -- stitched together a stupendous concatenation of gaffes that ought to put him out of the race for the Democratic nomination. But apparently, it will not.

This is good news for those of us who like a good laugh or a whole string of good laughs. If Joe makes it to the Democratic nomination after surpassing Beto, Pocahontas, Crazy Bernie and all the others, the 2020 election will be the most entertaining in American history, and then President Donald Trump can get back to ministering to the economy, the courts and affairs of state. Yet, first savor Joe's Hanover masterpiece. It apparently will be the first of many. The mainstream media is urging him on.

In Hanover, Biden said that when he was vice president, at the request of a four-star general, he traveled to the Konar province, a dangerous province in Afghanistan, to pin a Silver Star Medal on the chest of a heroic Navy captain. The Navy captain, Biden recalled, had rappelled down a ravine under enemy fire and brought out the body of an American serviceman, though the serviceman had passed. The captain complained that he was unworthy of the award. Biden even summoned up the hero's words from memory well: "Sir, I don't want the damn thing. ... He died. He died." And Biden added to the agog New Hampshire audience, "This is the God's truth." According to The Washington Post, he even swore, "My word as a Biden." It was apparently a very emotional moment.

The problem is that, as The Washington Post found out, practically every detail in Biden's histrionic rendition of the event was wrong. Biden visited the Konar province as a U.S. senator, not as vice president. The soldier who performed the act of heroism was a 20-year-old Army specialist, not a captain in the Navy. Finally, the soldier, Kyle J. White, never had a medal pinned on him by Biden. He got his award six years later from then-President Barack Obama. And, oh, yes, it was a Congressional Medal of Honor, not a Silver Star. Congratulations, Kyle, but remember you have only earned one more Congressional Medal of Honor than Joe.

As The Post reports, "In the space of three minutes, Biden got the time period, the location, the heroic act, the type of medal, the military branch and the rank of the recipient wrong, as well as his own role in the ceremony." As I have mentioned above, this gaffe is truly stupendous. It goes even beyond Sen. Elizabeth Warren's repeated tales of being an American Indian, or beyond any of the other phonies seeking the Democratic nomination. It is a world record, if world records for such BS are kept. And now we are told the press is encouraging further theatrics from him.

What is Joe's response? I would say he chose nonchalance. Said the gaffable one: "I was making the point how courageous these people are, how incredible they are, this generation of warriors, these fallen angels we've lost." And he continued, "I don't know what the problem is. What is it that I said wrong?" Well, Joe, my answer to your question is: everything. You got everything wrong.

You seem to think that it does not matter if you pinned a medal on a Naval officer or an Army specialist. Or was it a tail on a donkey? It does not matter if you pinned the medal on some guy or if Barack Obama pinned it on some guy. It does not matter if we have troops stationed in Africa or the Alps. It does not matter if our missiles are pointed up or pointed down. Joe, it is all BS, and you are not the only one seeking the Democratic nomination for president by trafficking in BS.

There is Pocahontas, who made a career based on her phony claims of being Native American, and Harvard accepted her claims. Why? Because the claims helped Harvard meet a minority goal. There is the millionaire socialist, Bernie Sanders, who has a carbon footprint that includes three homes and a wife who bankrupted a college she oversaw. There is the Irish kid from Texas who claims the Hispanic-sounding name of "Beto," though it is really Robert Francis O'Rourke. There is the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, whose marriage to a man is now seen as a shrewd political move. And there are those candidates who throw the term "racist" around with abandon. They call themselves people of color, though upon second glance, they might more properly be called people of shades.

They are all phonies, and now The New York Times' house "conservative" has leaped to gaffable Joe's defense. On "PBS NewsHour" last week, David Brooks acknowledged that Biden might "embellish" his speeches. "But he's not mendacious. He's not irresponsible," he said. No, David, if Biden is not mendacious and not irresponsible, perhaps he is delusional? Maybe he can claim he is suffering delusions of candor.

R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and the author most recently of "The Death of Liberalism," published by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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