Every day gets worse for the Democratic front-runner.
In the four months that former Vice President Joe Biden has been officially in the running for his party’s nomination for president, he’s already compiled a long list of head-scratching gaffes that should have Democrats seriously wondering if he’s the guy they want to go up against President Donald Trump in the 2020 election race.
But on Thursday, a story in the normally liberal Washington Post detailed how Biden has been mangling one story that’s more than a decade old — and it raises the prospect of an American presidential contender cynically using the courage of his country’s fighting men as nothing but a campaign prop.
According to The Post, Biden was in Hanover, New Hampshire, on Friday night for a town hall that was supposed to be focusing on health care when Biden used the topic of post-traumatic stress disorder to launch into the latest version of a tale he’s told for years.
It’s a riveting account of American heroism in combat, and Biden tells it well.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t tell it truthfully.
In the story Biden told Friday, a Navy captain on combat duty in Afghanistan’s Kunar province in 2008 had rappelled into a 60-foot ravine to retrieve the body of a fellow soldier, returning with the man on his back.
When the commanding general wanted Biden to pin a Silver Star on the captain, Biden said, the man tried to refuse the honor.
“He said, ‘Sir, I don’t want the damn thing!’” Biden said dramatically. “‘Do not pin it on me, sir! Please, sir. Do not do that! He died. He died!’”
As the New Hampshire audience sat in silence, The Post reported, the vice president said, “This is the God’s truth. My word as a Biden.”
But according to The Post, it wasn’t “God’s truth.” It wasn’t even “Biden’s truth.”
It was an amalgamation of events, with reality bearing little resemblance to the vice president’s version.
“Biden visited Kunar province in 2008 as a U.S. senator, not as vice president,” The Post’s Matt Viser and Greg Jaffe explained. “The service member who performed the celebrated rescue that Biden described was 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.
“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.”
According to The Post, there are elements similar to the story in Biden’s past. On a trip to Afghanistan in 2008 with then-fellow Sens. John Kerry and Chuck Hagel, Biden witnessed an awards ceremony for an Army specialist who’d braved Taliban fire to save a wounded comrade.
Later, as vice president, Biden was present for another awards ceremony in Afghanistan during which he pinned a Bronze Star on an Army staff sergeant who did not think he deserved the honor, The Post reported.
In July 2016, as Biden told a version of the story at a ceremony commemorating World War II in Australia, according to The Post, the service branch of the soldier being honored had become the Navy. The medal involved had become a Silver Star rather than a Bronze Star.
He told a similar story in October of that year while campaigning for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, according to The Post. In that version, the action took place in Iraq, and the hero was an Army captain who had pulled a solder out of a burning Humvee.
(According to The Post, the “Pentagon has no record of an Army captain receiving a Silver Star in Iraq during the time period Biden describes.”)
At another campaign event in 2016, this one for Democrat Jason Kander, who was challenging incumbent Sen. Roy Blount for Senate in Missouri, Biden combined quotes from both the Army and Navy versions of the story, The Post reported.
Friday night’s retelling might be getting the most attention, though.
It seems like every day brings up a new way for Biden to mangle reality — whether it’s mixing up American history, confusing the scene of mass shootings in the United States, or even seeming to forget the name of Barack Obama, the president he served for eight years.
But this story about American forces fighting abroad is a horse of a different color.
And this isn’t Hillary Clinton spinning a self-aggrandizing yarn about running under sniper fire in Bosnia when she was actually greeted by children with flowers.
And it isn’t now-disgraced newsman Brian Williams bragging about a dangerous helicopter flight in Iraq.
Putting things in the best possible light, this is the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for the presidency not caring enough to get the facts straight in a story involving the sacrifice of our military heroes.
For a man who wants to be the commander in chief of the U.S. military, that is a serious problem.