That the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave has a decided case of soup brain is beyond dispute. That the man currently leading the competition to assume the highest office in the land might also be afflicted with Campbell’s cranium also seems increasingly plausible.
Take, for instance, this dispatch from The Washington Post on Thursday, detailing one of Vice President Joe Biden’s favorite stories to tell on the campaign trail—one he punctuates, in typical aw-shucks fashion, by calling it “the God’s truth”—despite the fact that almost every detail of the story is incorrect.
As Biden tells it, the story is ostensibly as follows: During his time as Vice President, a four-star general asked him to travel to a dangerous portion of Afghanistan to award a Silver Star medal to a naval officer who had braved enemy fire and descended dozens of feet down into a ravine to retrieve the body of a fallen comrade. Upon being presented with the Silver Star, Biden claimed in his most recent retelling, the officer pushed back on being called a hero, allegedly saying “I don’t want the damn thing!” and “Do not pin it on me, Sir!”
A stirring tale, indeed. Except, per the Post’s reporting, Biden had actually visited the Afghani province in question while he was still a senator, not vice president. The Naval officer who repelled into the ravine was actually Army Specialist Kyle J. White, who was awarded the Medal of Honor years after Biden’s visit...by President Obama, in a White House ceremony.
As the Post notes, Biden’s story seems to be a mish-mash of at least three real events, combining elements of a medal ceremony for Army Spec. Miles Foltz he watched—but did not participated in—during his 2008 trip to Afghanistan, as well as a different medal pinning—this time done by Biden himself—for Army Staff Sgt. Chad Workman, who’d attempted to pull a comrade from a burning vehicle during a tour in a different part of Afghanistan. Workman confirmed to the Post that during the ceremony he’d told Biden, “Sir, I don’t want it. I don’t want it. He died. He died.”
The paper summed it up even more simply:
The upshot: In the space of three minutes, Biden got the time period, the location, the heroic act, the type of medal, the military branch and the rank of the recipient wrong, as well as his own role in the ceremony.
In a statement to the Post, Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates said Biden had been referring in part to Workman’s ceremony.
“In Afghanistan, he was moved by Staff Sgt. Workman’s valor and selflessness, which is emblematic of the duty and sacrifice of the 9/11 generation of veterans who have given so much across countless deployments,” Bates said.
Given, however, that Biden currently stands—but is by no means guaranteed—as the most likely candidate to face perennial liar Donald Trump in 2020, it would probably be good if the Democratic candidate for president could get through one of his favorite stories without botching all the details. The reporting also comes on the heels of a number of high-profile gaffes by Biden, both in media appearances and at the most recent debate, which have called into question his own fitness for office.