Biden's 10 Biggest Gaffes

Posted: Oct 08, 2012 7:50 AM

For almost four years, Americans have been given little hope for change in a major White House weakness: Joe Biden’s gaffes.


From Townhall Magazine's October feature, "Biden's 10 Biggest Gaffes," by John P. Hanlon:

In 2008, an elected official with a history of ill-informed decisions and a record of rhetorical missteps was selected to be a vice presidential candidate for one of the country’s two major political parties. Contrary to media reports, that person who was—and continues to be—ill-equipped to lead this nation was not Sarah Palin, but Joseph Biden, and he now sits a heartbeat away from the presidency.

Vice President Biden spent 36 years working as a U.S. senator before being selected as then-Sen. Barack Obama’s running mate in 2008. Biden, who lost presidential primaries in 1988 and 2008, was depicted in the campaign as the epitome of working-class values and a statesman who would add foreign affairs credibility to the ticket—even though his actual record left much to be desired. The foreign policy “expert” had voted against protecting Kuwait from an invading army in 1991, advocated dividing Iraq into three separate regions and spoke out against the surge that ultimately helped the U.S. succeed in Iraq.

But it’s not just his blemished political record that still stands out about Biden. It’s his gaffe-prone rhetoric. Even before he was elevated to the second-highest office in the country, Biden said that in Delaware someone needed a slight Indian accent to go into a Dunkin’ Donuts, encouraged a wheelchair-bound state senator to stand up and noted that the word “jobs” has three letters. He even once proclaimed that when the stock market crashed, FDR—who wasn’t president at the time—went on television—which wasn’t widely available at the time—to explain the economic collapse.

Considering that the Constitution doesn’t prevent people who make politically incorrect jokes and don’t know history from holding elected office, Biden was inaugurated as vice president in January 2009.

Now, after three and a half years in that office, Biden has proven to be as rhetorically clumsy as he ever was, even down to his recent “put y’all back in chains” gaffe when describing what Romney’s plans for “big banks” would do to the rest of America. With Biden’s record in mind, Townhall decided to count down his 10 biggest gaffes made while second-in-command. Because of the enormity of his political record and the amount of space available here, Townhall didn’t include on the list mistakes he made before being sworn in as vice president.

And the next time an Obama supporter knocks Sarah Palin as having been unqualified for the GOP ticket in 2008, remember this list, and laugh accordingly.

Here’s Townhall’s list of Biden’s 10 biggest rhetorical gaffes as vice president:

10.) On infrastructure: “If I blindfolded Americans and took them into some of the airports or ports in China, and then took them to one in any one of your cities in the middle of the night just so that they could see it and then said, ‘Which one is an American? Which one is in a city in America and which one’s in China?’ most Americans would say, ‘Well, that great one is in America.’ It’s not.” —June 15, 2012

While speaking to a room full of American mayors in Orlando, Vice President Biden felt it necessary to disparagingly compare U.S. cities with those in China while indulging in one of the biggest differences between the two: free speech.

According to The Orlando Sentinel, Biden used the speech to push for President Obama’s plans to use federal money to support U.S. infrastructure. One could argue that his intentions were innocent, but Biden surely didn’t need to criticize the cities that members of his audience led to get his point across.

For an administration that prides itself on being so hopeful, this negative tone surely counts as one of Biden’s significant rhetorical mistakes. ...

6.) On doing his research: “His mom lived in Long Island for 10 years or so. God rest her soul. And—although, she’s— wait—your mom’s still—your mom’s still alive. Your dad passed. God bless her soul.” —March 17, 2010

Biden’s “diplomatic” relationship with Ireland secures a spot on Townhall’s list with his introduction of Brian Cowen, then Ireland’s prime minister, in 2010. In his speech, Biden spoke fondly about Cowen’s deceased mother and her time in the United States. Standing next to a stoic Cowen, Biden said, “God rest her soul,” before realizing that Cowen’s mother was still alive.

The mistake recalls a 2008 campaign speech where Biden encouraged a wheelchair-bound state senator to stand up. With bloopers like that made before he became vice president, it’s hard not to be surprised when Biden confuses the living with the dead.

5.) On the tea party: “They have acted like terrorists.” —Aug. 1, 2011

The #5 quote on Townhall’s list might not qualify as a gaffe for many on the Left: Biden compared congressional tea party members to terrorists when they didn’t want to raise the debt ceiling in 2011.

Politico reported the quote was made at a closed-door meeting with the Democratic caucus. Politico also reported that, after the meeting, the vice president’s press office initially wouldn’t comment on the quote. Later, though, Biden noted that he didn’t use “the terrorism word.”

However, because his office didn’t request a retraction—at least according to The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple—it’s hard to believe that the gaffe-prone vice president did not use the phrase.

See the remaining six candidates who made our list by ordering the October issue of Townhall Magazine.