And by "we," he means "Bush," natch. Mindless blame-America-firstism at its hyper-partisan worst:
"We were the problem."
It's sometimes tempting to shrug off virtually anything this clown says -- there goes crazy Uncle Joe again! -- but we cannot lose sight of the fact that Barack Obama's hand-selected running mate is just one heartbeat away from the presidency. His outrageous and idiotic pronouncements on foreign policy matters should be distressing, not chuckle-worthy punchlines. This latest item is especially offensive. The Vice President simultaneously lets Iran's repressive, theocratic authoritarians off the hook for, well, everything, while implicitly blaming the previous American administration for the Iranian menace. The US State Department has classified Iran as the world's "most active state sponsor of terrorism" for years -- spanning multiple presidencies. Iran has aided, trained, and equipped terrorists who have killed Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. Its leaders have called for our great ally Israel to be "wiped off the map." It has aggressively pursued an illegal nuclear program, and was recently discovered to have constructed a secret facility to develop weapons without the international community's knowledge. It stones women to death, persecutes gays, and brutally crushes internal uprisings. With all due respect, Mr. Vice President, the United States of America is not, was not, and has never been "the problem" in Iran.
As Jim Geraghty asks, were we "diplomatically isolated" when President Bush's US delegation helped pass broad UN sanctions against Iran in 2008? (Click through for other instances of US diplomacy on this front during the Bush years). And what, exactly, has this administration done to deny Iran the nuclear weapons its leaders crave? I'll wait. When the regime in Tehran claimed victory in 2009's sham elections, throngs of pro-democracy protesters took to the streets. The government and its henchmen slaughtered, beat, and imprisoned the demonstrators. The current administration dithered, dodged, and hung them out to dry. It's that record in particular that makes Biden's new boast even more bizarre and insulting. Phil Klein says that the Vice President is "a problem" for Team Obama. Indeed. He's wandered off the messaging reservation even more than usual in recent days -- providing a sufficient pretext for the president to dump him from the ticket if he so chooses. I'll leave you with three items. (1) Obama griping about Uncle Joe's rhetorical volatility in 2008:
Obama himself was growing increasingly frustrated with his running mate after Biden let loose with a string of gaffes, including a statement that paying higher taxes amounted to patriotism and criticism of one of the campaign’s own ads poking fun at John McCain. But when Biden, at an October fundraiser in Seattle, famously predicted that Obama would be tested with an international crisis, the then-Illinois senator had had enough. “How many times is Biden gonna say something stupid?” he demanded of his advisers on a conference call, a moment at which most people on the call said the candidate was as angry as they had ever heard him.
(2) Video of Iranians chanting "death to the filthy and accursed America!" in 2007 (Remember we were the problem here):
(3) A flashback to one of Joe Biden's greatest hits on US-Iranian relations:
At the Tuesday-morning meeting with committee staffers, Biden launches into a stream-of-consciousness monologue about what his committee should be doing, before he finally admits the obvious: “I’m groping here.” Then he hits on an idea: America needs to show the Arab world that we’re not bent on its destruction. “Seems to me this would be a good time to send, no strings attached, a check for $200 million to Iran,” Biden declares. He surveys the table with raised eyebrows, a How do ya like that? look on his face. The staffers sit in silence. Finally somebody ventures a response: “I think they’d send it back.” Then another aide speaks up delicately: “The thing I would worry about is that it would almost look like a publicity stunt.” Still another reminds Biden that an Iranian delegation is in Moscow that very day to discuss a $300 million arms deal with Vladimir Putin that the United States has strongly condemned. But Joe Biden is barely listening anymore. He’s already moved on to something else.
One. Heartbeat. Away.
UPDATE - The Romney camp unloads in an emailed statement:
“All too often, President Obama and his administration have sought to blame America first, yet Vice President Biden’s reckless statement today blaming America for – of all things – the progress of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, has reached a new low. The problem is not America. It is the ayatollahs who oppress their people, threaten their neighbors, and are pursuing nuclear weapons. President Obama’s naïve approach to Iran has given the regime valuable time to get closer than ever before to a nuclear weapons capability. Vice President Biden’s comments are wrong and completely inappropriate. Mitt Romney will stand up for America and our allies, and he will not apologize for America’s leadership role in the world.” –Lanhee Chen, Romney Policy Director