Former Vice President Joe Biden, running for the third time for the presidency, from time to time tries his hand at being a raconteur. One of his favorite stories involves himself and a reluctant hero that the Washington Post reports he told at a campaign stop in New Hampshire.
“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 Konar 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 story was quite moving, as one and all who heard it or heard all of it later attested to. The problem is that the story of the vice president and the reluctant hero is false in every detail. As one can imagine. Biden’s latest gaffe, more of a whopper really, has got a lot of people riled.
The Post suggests that Biden got at least three different incidents and used them as material for the story he told the New Hampshire audience.
“Biden visited Konar province in 2008 as a U.S. senator, not as vice president. The service member who performed the celebrated rescue that Biden described as 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.”
Another incident that contributed to the story involved an Army Staff Sgt named Chad Workman, whom Biden did pin a medal on even though the soldier was heartbroken and felt he didn’t deserve the decoration.
The question arises, was Biden having one of his confusions, mixing up memories of the three actual events to create one that was more coherent and starred him as a supporting player? Or as the former vice president being cynical, entertaining the audience with a good story of valor and becoming modesty?
Politicians have done the latter from time immemorial. Sen/ Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn committed an act of stolen honor when he claimed to have served in Vietnam. As the New York Times reported several years ago, Blumenthal served in the Marine Corps Reserves stateside between 1970 and 1976. The Senator’s lies have not hampered his political career, though they have served as a subject for some of President Trump’s tweets on those occasions when Blumenthal has irritated the president.
Biden’s story is considerably less egregious. However, the New Hampshire incident has renewed doubts that he may be up to going up against President Trump, a man who is without mercy where it comes to exploiting the weaknesses of an opponent. However, thus far, except for one poll, the former vice president remains on top of the polls.
Biden is unapologetic about being caught telling a fictional story as if it had happened. Indeed, he seems to not understand what the big deal is. He denies the Washington Post story that he merged three different stories. He suggested that he got the “essence of the story” right.
According to NBC News, Biden told a Washington Post reporter, “I was making the point how courageous these people are, how incredible they are, this generation of warriors, these fallen angels we’ve lost. I don’t know what the problem is. What is it that I said wrong?”
The last sentence has gotten Democratic Party insiders feeling a chill wind in their hearts.