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Joe Biden's Gaffes: An Appreciation Joe Biden's Gaffes: An Appreciation Joe Biden's Gaffes: An Appreciation Joe Biden's Gaffes: An Ap...

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Legacy Content / ONLINE EXCLUSIVE

Joe Biden's Gaffes: An Appreciation

The Vice President Has Been In Rare Form Recently, Shedding Light On The Surprising And The Obvious Alike

July 10, 2009

If you're wondering what's really going on inside the Obama administration, listen closely to Vice President Joe Biden. He has a knack for saying the wrong thing publicly -- and it often has the niggling ring of truth.

His recent faux pas on ABC News "This Week" is a case in point: "The truth is, we and everyone else misread the economy," Biden said. "The figures we worked off of in January were the consensus figures and most of the blue chip indexes out there."

Egad! He's telling us the economy stinks worse than the White House predicted last January. This isn't news to anyone with a pulse who has been watching national unemployment statistics and retail numbers slide into the gutter -- or, worse yet, is out of a job themselves. (For the record, unemployment currently stands at 9.5 percent and consumer confidence fell 5.5 percentage points in June.)

 

President Obama's walk-back on Biden's comment was half-hearted at best: "I would actually -- rather than say misread, we had incomplete information," he lamely told NBC's Chuck Todd.

Plausibility of Biden's original remark: 99 percent.

Next, on the same program, Biden "let slip" a golden quip that seemed to open the door to tacit U.S. approval of Israel bombing Iranian nuclear facilities. "Look, Israel can determine for itself -- it's a sovereign nation -- what's in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran or anyone else."

This ranks as a downright truism. Israel is, indeed, a sovereign nation with a notable track record of neutralizing what it perceives as enemy threats. Its planes bombed and destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 amid fears the facility was being used to provide plutonium for bombs bound for Israel. It doesn't take much to imagine a recent freewheeling conversation in the Oval Office that raised this point, and some mental meanderings about how nice it would be if Israel would just take care of the Iranian nuclear problem with a nifty air strike.

In his clarification of Biden's statement, Obama forcefully told CNN he had "absolutely not" given Israel the green light to attack Iran. Then he added: "What is also true is, it is the policy of the United States to try to resolve the issue of Iran's nuclear capabilities."

Nice. But sometimes "resolution" requires targeted munitions -- just ask Harry Truman.

Plausibility of Biden's original remark: 85 percent.

In May, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift reported that Biden had mentioned to dinner guests at the Gridiron Club the existence of a fortified room in the vice president's residence at the Naval Observatory. This generated an amusing bit of wordplay from his spokeswoman, Elizabeth Alexander: "What the vice president described in his comments was not -- as some press reports have suggested -- an underground facility, but rather, an upstairs workspace in the residence, which he understood was frequently used by Vice President [Dick] Cheney and his aides."

Right. A home office with concrete walls and a blast door.

Plausibility of Biden's original remark: 100 percent.

And in April, during the height of the swine flu scare, Biden told NBC's Matt Lauer, "I would tell members of my family -- and I have -- I wouldn't go anywhere in confined places now.... You're in a confined aircraft, when one person sneezes it goes all the way through the aircraft."

While some criticized Biden for fear-mongering, the advice was pretty much a no-brainer. The ever-busy Alexander said as much in her walk-back: "The advice he is giving family members is the same advice the administration is giving to all Americans: that they should avoid unnecessary air travel to and from Mexico. If they are sick, they should avoid airplanes and other confined public spaces."

Plausibility of Biden's original remark: 100 percent.

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