Joe Biden is a punch line.
Our Vice President is more famous for his foolish pronouncements than he is for being second in command of the world’s greatest superpower. It has gotten so bad that a mere mention of his name provokes laughter, as late-night comics (and Clint Eastwood) can attest.
“That’s just Joe being Joe,” we’re told by the same Beltway courtiers who gleefully vivisect any stray utterance of “macaca” or “potatoe” by the other side. But Biden’s gaffes are ever more frequent and are beginning to damage America’s shakiest alliances.
Consider the Vice President’s missteps over just the last three weeks:
- Sept. 16: Biden calls predatory lenders “Shylocks,” provoking an apology to the Anti-Defamation League.
- Sept. 17: Biden calls a former Prime Minister of Singapore “the wisest man in the Orient,” provoking a sheepish clarification by the White House.
- Sept. 17: Biden opens the door to committing ground troops to fight ISIS, contradicting the President’s statement that same day. The White House clarifies.
- Sept. 17: Biden joked to a British reporter that he’s worried about his wife spending so much time on the arm of the sometimes caddish Prince Harry, if “you know what I mean.”
- Sept. 19: Biden praised the pro-woman record of retired Sen. Bob Packwood, who resigned amid multiple sexual harassment allegations.
- Oct. 2: Biden claims that our allies in the Middle East were “our largest problem” in the spread of ISIS. “The Saudis, the Emiratis; what were they doing?” He phoned apologies to enraged leaders of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
- Oct. 2: Biden replied to the vice president of Harvard’s student body with, “the vice president thing… isn’t that a bitch?”
- Oct. 2: Biden claimed that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confided to him that he made a mistake in fomenting Syrian unrest by not properly sealing his nation’s border. Biden apologized after Erdogan angrily denounced the allegation to the international press.
- Oct. 3: Biden commemorated the anniversary of the Joplin, Mo., tornado by claiming that 161,000 died. The actual total was 161.
- Oct. 7: Biden claimed increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would lift “28 million people out of poverty.” According to the CBO, it would take less than 1 million out of poverty.
The occasional malaprop is harmless, but it is quite another when America’s number two routinely insults reluctant allies during a time of war. Is it impolite to wonder if Biden’s mental faculties are up to the task of official statements?
We Americans are used to “Joe being Joe.” But at this time of historic instability the international community needs an America striding across the world stage, not stepping on rakes. Increasingly, Biden is a verbal representation of an oafish, undisciplined and incompetent U.S. government. How long before our allies explain away our multiplying failures as just America being America?
Joe Biden has been a punchline for years. But we can’t afford America being one.