Democratic presidential candidates, former Vice President Joe Biden, participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate at the Gaillard Center, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Charleston, S.C., co-hosted by CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Last week, news broke that Joe Biden was going around bragging that he had once been arrested in South Africa. This had become part of his stump speech at several campaign events throughout early February despite never being mentioned by him in his 2007 memoir.
As the Washington Examiner reported at the time, none of it made any sense.
A former U.S. ambassador said he can’t recall Joe Biden getting arrested during a visit to South Africa in the 1970s, which the vice president and presidential candidate has claimed in recent weeks.
Andrew Young, a former congressman and mayor of Atlanta who served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations between 1977 and 1979 and extensively traveled with Biden, cast doubt on the story the former senator has been telling at campaign stops about the two of them being arrested on the streets of Johannesburg.
“No, I was never arrested and I don’t think he was, either,” Young told the New York Times. “Now, people were being arrested in Washington. I don’t think there was ever a situation where congressmen were arrested in South Africa.”
Biden, 77, did not mention the arrest in his 2007 memoir, which touched on his trips to South Africa in the ’70s, and the New York Times couldn’t find any reference to his arrest in the paper’s archives.
Naturally, because no one can ever just admit they were wrong in politics, Biden has decided to try to explain away his claim. In the end, I’m pretty sure he’s only making it worse.
.@JoeBiden on falsely claiming he was arrested protesting Apartheid in South Africa: “What I meant to say was, I got off that — look, I strongly, strongly, strongly opposed Apartheid … I wasn’t arrested, I was stopped. I was not able to move where I wanted to go." pic.twitter.com/PfdzmjnW46
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) February 28, 2020
What’s he being so aggressive for? He’s the one that lied here. It’s as if he expects to not be asked about blatantly making up a story in order to racially pander.
So what was the real story? At one point in the airport, Biden was held back from his group. That’s literally it. Whether it had anything to do with apartheid or not isn’t clear, although given the initial story was a lie, I’m inclined to think it’s all nonsense. If you’ve ever been pulled to the side an airport, congrats, because you’ve struggled through about the same level of oppression as Biden supposedly did here.
You know what, though? Given what we’ve seen from Biden on the campaign trail so far, it’s perfectly possible that he didn’t even think he was lying here. If you saw his bizarre performance at the last debate, you’d be forgiven for wondering just how sharp his mind is at this point. The more I see of Biden, the more certain I am that a general election campaign would not be kind to him.
Despite his flaws, Biden is now set up to be the only alternative to Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side, so we’ll see how this all plays out.