While campaigning in New Hampshire on August 29, former Vice President Joe Biden recounted for 400 friendly listeners the details of a remarkable incident he encountered when visiting U.S. forces in Afghanistan a decade ago. The reasonably large crowd remained in rapt attention as he told of the exploits of a Navy captain who had rappelled down a 60-foot ravine while under fire from enemy forces, retrieved the body of a dead comrade, and carried the lifeless corpse on his back to friendly lines.
Biden added to his riveting recollection of that war zone visit the details about a U.S. general later asking him to pin a Silver Star on the American hero. But, said the former vice president, the Navy captain objected saying, “Sir, I don’t want the damn thing. Do not pin it on me, sir! Do not do that! He died! He died!” All 400 in that hall remained reverently silent as the former senator and vice president added, “This is the God’s truth. My word as a Biden.”
The problem, later brought to Biden’s attention, is that practically every detail in the story was incorrect. As recounted by the Washington Post, the current candidate for the high office of president had erred about the time period, the location, the heroic act, the type of medal, the military branch, and the rank of the medal recipient. His role in a somewhat similar event years later saw an Army staff sergeant accept a medal presented by Biden while the hero noted that he didn’t think he deserved the award.
Asked about the matter later, Biden offered, “I don’t know what the problem is. What is it that I said wrong?” Then, former Democratic National Committee Chairperson Donna Brazile defended the former vice president with a claim that his age (76 years) should be blamed for mixing up details along with “information overload” faced by many candidates. She insisted that Joe Biden is a “genuine” as well as a “heartfelt” supporter of military personnel. That, of course, wasn’t the issue.
A star in Democratic Party circles herself, Brazile got caught leaking debate questions to Hillary Clinton during the closing face-offs in 2016’s race for the presidency. CNN veteran Jake Tapper considered that bit of unconscionable cheating as “journalistically horrifying.” CNN President Jeff Zucker added that such a violation of trust by anyone in the media was “unethical and disgusting.” Brazile sought to excuse what she had done with the claim that her job at the time was to “make all our Democratic candidates look good.” She finally expressed regret about what she had done and offered a formal resignation from the network. It was accepted.
Biden has a well-earned reputation about making false statements that have to be cleaned up later. These dealt with his need to correct his stances about such matters as abortion, the Iraq war, immigration, desegregation, the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas episode, gun rights, drugs, and same-sex “marriage.” He errs so often that he could be considered the nation’s greatest issuer of embarrassing gaffes.
Currently the leading Democrat according to pollsters, Biden has yet to face reminders of his plagiarism of speeches given by others, especially the words of a British politician. Examinations of what he initially and falsely pretended was his own work led to his early dropping out of the 1988 race for the presidential nomination. And his consistent support for abortion while maintaining his affiliation with the anti-abortion Catholic Church suggests his unreliability even when not getting caught in another gaffe.
Pro-Democrat CNN saw fit to fire Donna Brazile for her leaking of the debate questions to Hillary Clinton. But the supposedly pro-conservative and pro-Republican Fox network quickly hired her. What will become of Joe Biden’s race for president remains to be seen. But it’s safe to say that America’s voters ought to find someone more reliable then Biden to lead the nation while they justifiably lose confidence in the worth of network news.
John F. McManus is president emeritus of The John Birch Society.