Only 14 more months of these very special moments until the election!
Joe Biden painted a vivid scene for the 400 people packed into a college meeting hall. A four-star general had asked the then-vice president to travel to Kunar province in Afghanistan, a dangerous foray into “godforsaken country” to recognize the remarkable heroism of a Navy captain.
Some told him it was too risky, but Biden said he brushed off their concerns. “We can lose a vice president,” he said. “We can’t lose many more of these kids. Not a joke.”
The Navy captain, Biden recalled Friday night, had rappelled down a 60-foot ravine under fire and retrieved the body of an American comrade, carrying him on his back. Now the general wanted Biden to pin a Silver Star on the American hero who, despite his bravery, felt like a failure.
“He said, ‘Sir, I don’t want the damn thing!’ ” Biden said, his jaw clenched and his voice rising to a shout. “’Do not pin it on me, Sir! Please, Sir. Do not do that! He died. He died!’ ”
The room was silent.
“This is the God’s truth,” Biden had said as he told the story. “My word as a Biden.”
Except almost every detail in the story appears to be incorrect. Based on interviews with more than a dozen U.S. troops, their commanders and Biden campaign officials, it appears as though the former vice president has jumbled elements of at least three actual events into one story of bravery, compassion and regret that never happened.
Biden visited Kunar province in 2008 as a U.S. senator, not as vice president. The service member who performed the celebrated rescue that Biden described was a 20-year-old Army specialist, not a much older Navy captain. And that soldier, Kyle J. White, never had a Silver Star, or any other medal, pinned on him by Biden. At a White House ceremony six years after Biden’s visit, White stood at attention as President Barack Obama placed a Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor, around his neck.
The upshot: 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.
(1) Are these wildly inaccurate confabulations signs of sub-clinical dementia, or is Biden just the kind of guy who is incapable of keeping fantasy and reality reasonably separate in his mind? Given his track record of saying bizarrely false stuff over the past several decades, and his very advanced age, there’s plenty of evidence for either proposition. (Repeated confabulation is a classic sign of early-stage dementia fwiw).
But the thing is — who cares? Either explanation is more than sufficient grounds for flatly refusing to consider a person for the presidency of the United States. As I’ve mentioned before, the fact that Donald Trump is far worse than Biden in every single way is NOT an argument for Biden in the context of the race for the Democratic nomination, even though people are making exactly this argument.
(2) Note that this is happening in a context in which Biden’s people — although obviously not the candidate himself, who very clearly DGAF, for whatever combination of neurological and psychological reasons — are excruciatingly conscious of the importance of not having Uncle Joe go off on another one of his confabulatory rambles. But they can’t do anything about it, obviously, because Biden either can’t or won’t stop doing stuff like this (again, it doesn’t make any practical difference whether he can’t or won’t).
(3) People this age should be automatically disqualified from consideration for the presidency. And AGAIN, the “he just sounds kind of demented, that doesn’t mean he actually is” defense is . . . not actually a defense of this increasingly absurd candidacy.
. . . I want to emphasize that Biden’s track record in this regard was already atrocious. The Neil Kinnock incident is worth rehashing, both because it was so bizarre, and because it apparently had no chastening effect on Biden at all, even though it destroyed his first presidential campaign 32 years ago (think about that sentence).
What happened is that Biden gave a speech in Iowa in August of 1987, just as the campaign season was beginning in earnest, in which he referenced the following passage from a Neil Kinnock speech, attributing it explicitly to Kinnock:
“Why am I the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? Why is Glenys [his wife] the first woman in her family in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? Was it because all our predecessors were thick?”
A few days later he gave the same speech again, but changed it to this:
I started thinking as I was coming over here, why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go to a university? Why is it that my wife who is sitting out there in the audience is the first in her family to ever go to college? Is it because our fathers and mothers were not bright? Is it because I’m the first Biden in a thousand generations to get a college and a graduate degree that I was smarter than the rest?”
Both speeches were in front of large audiences and television cameras. Think about the sheer arrogance of this sort of theft. You’re not just stealing somebody’s rhetoric — you’re stealing his rhetoric about the most intimate details of his own life story! And you’re doing so COMPLETELY OUT IN THE OPEN.
Three-plus decades later, Biden is at best exactly the same person he was in 1987, when he was behaving in this grotesque way. At best — because now his arrogance, entitlement, and dishonesty may be complicated by genuine mental confusion, brought on by advancing age.