To hear President Joe Biden tell it, he is everyman. Almost literally.
He’s a truck-driving, long-ball-hitting outlaw who is uncommonly brave, marched for civil rights, and was an accomplished scholar in law school.
It’s an impressive resume, especially for a politician who has spent most of the past 48 years in Washington, D.C.
And almost all of it is either highly embellished or completely untrue.
It wasn’t that long ago that the media almost made a sport of fact-checking former President Donald Trump, to the point of absurdity. Even jokes or obvious satire were examined by a press corps that was incapable of acknowledging humor.
In Biden’s case, he largely has been protected by the media, especially throughout his 2020 campaign for president and since taking office in January. And Biden’s penchant for falsehoods has been with him for decades.
The latest notable entry in Biden’s Book of Fabulism came July 28, when he told workers at a Mack Trucks facility in Pennsylvania: “I used to drive an 18-wheeler, man.”
This, of course, is nonsense.
Video of the exchange shows Biden amending his statement to say he “got to” drive an 18-wheeler, the New York Post reported.
But the closest Biden apparently ever got to driving one was a 535-mile trip as a passenger in 1973, when as a freshman senator he said he wanted to understand what truckers experience.
When called on this, the White House fell back on its habit of describing things as they are not, weakly noting that Biden once had a summer job driving a school bus, which most decidedly isn’t an 18-wheel Mack Truck.
But this was not the only invention Biden came up with in the month of July.
While hosting the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers at the White House before the Fourth of July weekend, Biden boasted that he hit a 368-foot drive “off the right-centerfield wall” during his second Congressional Baseball Game at old RFK Stadium in 1974.
Newspaper accounts of the game, though, show that Biden went 0-for-2.
Even if you wanted to be charitable and give the president credit for his single in the 1973 game (played in Baltimore, not Washington), you’d have to stretch your generosity to believe that Biden lined a shot off the outfield wall for the longest single in the history of the Congressional Baseball Game.
But truck-drivin’, baseball-smashin’ Joe Biden doesn’t stop there.
During his campaign for president, he said at least three times that he had been arrested by police in South Africa while trying to visit Nelson Mandela in prison.
His imaginary brushes with the law stretch further back than that.
Biden has claimed that as a college student, he was arrested for attempting to enter a women’s dormitory on the campus of Ohio University. He later admitted it wasn’t true.
Another tense encounter with police also did not occur in 1963, when Biden was visiting Washington as a student and wandered into the U.S. Senate chamber. Though Biden has told the story of being arrested by a Capitol Police officer, he finally allowed that he merely was asked to leave.
Through these stories, you can see the biography that Biden apparently is trying to weave as a politician: He’s a man of the people (truck driver) who is also a fine athlete (power-hitting baseball player) with a roguish streak that gets him into trouble sometimes.
At other times, you can see the other side of the life story Biden wants to tell, and it is a much nobler and scholarly version of himself.
While he was battling other Democrats in the recent presidential primaries, Biden told a gut-wrenching story about a journey he made as vice president to a dangerous area of Afghanistan.
He had been asked by a four-star general, he said, to pin a Silver Star on a Navy captain who had displayed incredible bravery in rappelling down a 60-foot ravine under fire to retrieve the body of a fallen comrade.
Biden said he unflinchingly waved off those who said it was too perilous for him to make the trip to Afghanistan.
“We can lose a vice president,” he said. “We can’t lose many more of these kids. Not a joke.”
When the time came to pin the medal on the Navy captain, Biden said, the man refused it because he had been unable to save the life of his fellow serviceman.
It’s a gripping story into which Biden placed himself.
It turns out that Biden was combining pieces of several different events into one account that makes him look like he selflessly went into harm’s way to honor an American hero.
He once did go to Afghanistan, but as a senator and not as vice president. And he did once pin a medal on the chest of a soldier who believed he didn’t deserve the honor.
But the hero who rappelled into the ravine was an Army specialist who was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama, not Biden, six years later.
As The Washington Post reported: “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.”
Other than that, it was a nearly flawless retelling of actual events.
During his first run for president in 1987, Biden burnished his civil rights credentials by repeatedly telling tales of his heroics during the marches of the 1960s.
“When I marched in the civil rights movement, I did not march with a 12-point program,” he said. “I marched with tens of thousands of others to change attitudes.”
Except Biden didn’t march, and his staff kept begging him to stop saying that he had.
In that same campaign, flashes of anger and pride appeared to come through when a voter asked Biden about law school and his class rank at graduation. Biden exaggerated his academic credentials.
“I think I probably have a much higher IQ than you, I suspect. I went to law school on a full academic scholarship,” Biden said, displaying his temper. “In fact, ended up in the top half of my class.”
“I was the outstanding student in the political science department at the end of my year,” Biden continued. “I graduated with three degrees from undergraduate school.”
None of that is true. And Biden graduated 76th out of 85 at Syracuse University Law School, not “in the top half.”
Got all of that? An uncharitiable observer might say that Biden thinks he’s braver, more socially aware, and smarter than you, and he wants you to know it whether it’s true or not.
The kicker is, this is a guy who was a plagiarist in law school and saw that first campaign for president flame out over speech passages lifted from British politician Neil Kinnock and fellow American Democrats Robert Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey.
Although much of the media may write off these tall tales as “That’s just Joe being Joe,” they come with a real, practical impact on how Americans view his policies.
When talking about energy, for example, Biden likes to riff on the idea that his ancestors were connected to the coal mining industry (sometimes erroneously calling them “coal miners,” when they were, in fact, an inspector and an engineer).
The president tells these stories to quell fears that his policies are hostile to fossil fuels, and therefore to the jobs of millions of Americans. The truth is, Biden is governing according to the wishes of the radical environmental left.
Biden’s record of doing this kind of stuff is so long and so legendary that he was mocked by none other than Johnny Carson in a “Tonight Show” monologue 34 years ago.
“And Biden says, not to worry,” Carson joked. “He reassured his staff, he said, ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself.’”
Sounds about right for a guy who still calls himself “Joey from Scranton,” though he last lived in the Pennsylvania town 68 years ago, when he was 10.
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