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How significant are Biden’s continual verbal misstatements?

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Taken in isolation, any one of them could certainly be dismissed as not significant at all. But the cumulative effect is something else:

2020 Democratic front-runner Joe Biden mistakenly said during a Tuesday speech that the assassinations of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. happened “in the late ’70s.”

Comparing present times with how things were when he was young, Biden said, “Just like in my generation, when I got out of school, when Bobby Kennedy and Dr. King had been assassinated in the ’70s, the late ’70s when I got engaged.” Kennedy and King were murdered within months of each other in 1968.


Biden then seemingly reverted back to the correct decade, referencing the cultural trends that roiled the country in the 1960s. He married his first wife, Neilia Hunter, in 1966.

Again in isolation this could be brushed off as an odd but ultimately trivial verbal slip. It does seem strange for him to conflate the late 1970s — when Biden was re-elected to a second term in the Senate — with a full decade earlier, when he had just graduated from law school and was struggling to establish his legal and political career. (I was eight years old when King and RFK were assassinated, and yet I remember to this day exactly where I was when I heard the news, as well as discussing the murders on the playground of Thurston elementary the next day. It was a simpler, more innocent time kids.)

But coming on the heels of a bunch of similarly odd mis-statements last week, this doesn’t bode well for the rest of a campaign that, if it includes winning the Democratic nomination, will last 14 and a half more months.

The frustrating thing is that this is all so completely unnecessary. Even if for the purposes of argument someone wants to nominate a centrist white guy to oppose Trump, there are still about seven of those in the race besides Biden.

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