But not to worry: America’s would-be next president does get help, from his wife Jill.
The other day, Joe went off the rails a bit, but Mrs Biden put him back on track. Addressing his supporters on line, Joe got things ever so slightly wrong.
“Four more years of George, er, George, er,” he said, “he – we’re going to find ourselves in a position where, if Trump gets elected, we’re going to be in a different world.”
Whose denizen Joe already appears to be, but Jill dragged him back to reality. “Trump,” she whispered, poking her hubby-wubby in the ribs.
This incident left Washington insiders guessing which George Biden had in mind. The only two possibilities mooted were George W. Bush and his father George H.W. Such narrow-mindedness shows a singular lack of imagination.
For it’s conceivable that Joe was actually thinking of George Washington, whose return to the White House should indeed be avoided at all costs. After all, his congenital urge to kill the Red Coats might jeopardise musicians in the United States Marine Band, whose uniforms are blatantly red.
Just imagine the band going into a rousing rendition of Hail to the Chief, only for George Washington to order his Secret Service detail to take the musicians out one by one. You know what they say about old habits: unlike old men they die hard.
Then again, Joe might have been making a valid point, whose subtlety went beyond his listeners. Think about it in terms of parties, not personalities. The two Bushes are Republicans, as is Trump. Hence Joe was simply pointing out the dangers resident in one party practically monopolising the White House.
‘George’ thus becomes a collective noun designating a political genus – a bit like SAS soldiers referring to all officers as ‘Ruperts’ even if their actual names are different. People really ought to try to understand what this great man means before jumping on his case.
I for one look forward to Biden’s presidency, for it’s time honesty returned to the White House. To wit: just two days before Joe left his viewers guessing which George shouldn’t be president for another four years, he made an admission startling in its candour.
Starring in a campaign video, Joe boasted: “We have put together, I think, the most extensive and inclusive voter fraud organisation in the history of American politics.”
I can’t say I approve of voter fraud, but I have to admire Joe’s honesty. No other politician would ever make such a frank admission, and surely the tradition of truthfulness in American presidency has been attenuating since the tenure of, well, George Washington.
Alas, Joe’s detractors hold his supposed blunders against him. They point out that he sometimes doesn’t even know where he is. The other day, for example, he was campaigning in the beautiful town of Keene.
Since I once drove through it, I know it’s beautiful and so does Joe. “I love this place,” he said. “Look, what’s not to like about Vermont in terms of the beauty of it?”
There’s nothing not to like about Vermont in terms of the beauty of it (I have to use the same turn of phrase, I love it so much) – this aesthetic assessment is unassailable, even though Keene is actually in New Hampshire.
Perhaps Joe was trying to make a point about parochial rivalries, so typical of adjacent states. By praising the beauty of Vermont, he wanted to remind his New Hampshire audience that they are all New Englanders and, more broadly, Americans. Getting jingoistic about their own patch might therefore be construed as unpatriotic.
But even assuming for the sake of argument that Joe confused the two states, you must admit that’s an easy mistake to make. They are indeed similar in many respects, including the breath-taking beauty of their foliage season. I mean, he didn’t confuse, as he might have done, New Hampshire with New Mexico or for that matter New South Wales, did he?
Then last year, as his campaign was gathering momentum, Joe said he was in Ohio when he was in Iowa. So fine, those two states aren’t adjacent, but they aren’t a million miles apart. Let him whose knowledge of geography is impeccable cast the first stone.
Not only is Joe honest, but he’s also humble. Earlier this year he introduced himself to potential voters thus: “My name’s Joe Biden. I’m a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate.”
Of course, everyone, emphatically including Joe, knew exactly which office he was seeking. But Joe’s innate modesty accounted for that slip of the tongue: something within him craved a less conspicuous, more familiar post – what a welcome contrast to that egomaniac Trump.
Sometimes Joe gets his arithmetic wrong, or so it seems. For example, he claimed that since 2007 150 million Americans had been killed by guns and, this year, another 200 million by Covid.
Having thus depopulated the United States, Joe was accused of getting his numbers wrong. In fact, he was sounding a grave warning, which his audience either misunderstood or misheard. Joe meant that, if we aren’t careful, guns could kill 150 million Americans, and Covid everyone left.
Hyperbole is a time-honoured rhetorical device, and Joe wielded it adroitly. Accusing him of senility on this basis is as silly as accusing him of incest simply because back in March he confused his wife and his sister when speaking at a rally in California.
“By the way, this is my little sister Valerie!” Biden said, taking his wife by the hand. “And I’m Jill’s husband,” he added, pointing at his sister.
I’m not going to speculate about the intimatemost details of life in the Biden household, and neither should anyone else. Yet even assuming that Joe’s brotherly love goes a bit too far, remember that Nietzsche had a similar relationship with his sister, which didn’t prevent him from writing Also sprach Zarathustra.
I’m hereby asking everybody to refrain from pointing out Joe’s little slips, if that’s what they are. Otherwise we may indeed end up with another four years of George and Martha in the White House.