Ah Biden, Sleepy Joe, the gaffe machine from Scranton, Penn. He’s familiar to everyone, but an unknown quantity as a presidential candidate for 2020. Yes, he has failed before, twice. Yes, he’s doddery. But he keeps coming top in the polls and we keep being told that President Trump fears him the most.
One thing is certain, however: for as long as Biden’s campaign goes on, he’ll boob and boob and boob again. His ability to say something stupid is mind-boggling. And in a perverse way, it is one of his strengths as a candidate. His near-senility makes him strangely memorable.
Recall the Summer of Trump in 2015, when the Donald blew up the news cycle at least once a day with some outrageous remark? Well, we could be in for an even more ridiculous time with candidate Biden hurtling clumsily towards the Democratic TV debates in a few weeks.
His latest slip, in which he said that he had been contacted by the late Margaret Thatcher (d. 2013), expressing concerns about President Donald Trump, was great fun. It’s particularly amusing because Biden’s last known big British politician gaffe concerned Neil Kinnock, Thatcher’s great rival, whom he plagiarized horribly during his 1988 run.
We should be fair: the Thatcher-May error was hardly big, especially by Biden’s standards. It’s not comparable, for instance, to the time he called out ‘stand up Chuck, let ’em see ya’ to wheelchair-bound Sen. Chuck Graham. Biden obviously meant to name Britain’s current and second woman Prime Minister, Theresa May, and, hey, it’s hard to tell the difference between two women when you aren’t sniffing them.
He quickly corrected himself, called it a ‘Freudian slip’, which in itself is a Freudian slip – and pointed out that he ‘knew her too.’ Oh Joe, you wily old cad.
Such mistakes aren’t off-putting in a candidate: they can even be endearing. Biden, 76, is bound to say far worse over the coming weeks – and a series of high-profile faux pas could help his campaign suck up lots of airtime that might otherwise be inhaled by a Pete Buttigieg or a Beto O’Rourke. That’s how Trump won, remember? A Summer of Biden might be exactly what the old man needs to stay ahead.
Yet one does wonder how bad it might get. A presidential campaign is a grueling test for any man or woman: the 2016 race took a lot out of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. And remember poor old Gary Johnson, the libertarian candidate in 2016, who ended up doing a very good impression of a senility with his notorious ‘what is Aleppo’ remark. This all makes politics much more fun. I can’t wait to hear what Joe says next.