In keeping with the “we need to be able to laugh in order to keep from crying” theme I’ve been trying to go for in my pieces about the Biden administration, we turn to an announcement President Biden gave during an “Equal Pay” event at the White House that managed to go off the rails pretty fast.
First, the not-so-great news: Vice President Kamala Harris’ husband Doug Emhoff, otherwise known as the “Second Gentleman,” has tested positive for COVID-19. According to multiple media reports, Harris herself – who the White House says tested negative Tuesday – was around Biden as recently as earlier in the day Tuesday:
The vice president was with Biden earlier Tuesday, when the president signed the $1.5 trillion spending bill. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on when Biden was last tested.
Emhoff’s most recent public appearance was Tuesday afternoon at the Marvin Gaye Greening Center communal garden in Washington, D.C. where he “interacted with the center’s staff and members of the press.” Emhoff becomes the first member of the first or second families in this administration (that we know of) to come down with the coronavirus.
Harris and Emhoff both were scheduled to make appearances at the “Equal Pay” day event, but after news of the positive test got out, they decided not to attend “out of an abundance of caution,” per Harris spokesperson Sabrina Singh.
While at the podium giving his remarks, Biden noted that Harris and Emhoff wouldn’t be there and the reason why. But in his remarks, Biden said “the First Lady’s husband” tested positive – which would mean Biden. He didn’t realize his flub until Jill Biden, who was sitting nearby, corrected him, according to CBS News, which was one of the few news outlets that reported Biden’s gaffe.
And even when Biden tried to set the record straight after the Mrs. let him know, he still got it wrong, referring to Emhoff as the “First Gentleman,” apparently not realizing that Emhoff would only be “First Gentleman” if it was Harris and not Biden who was President:
Watch the moment below (turn the sound up a bit to hear some of the First Lady’s comments):
Biden confused: “there’s been a little change in the arrangement of who’s on the stage bc of the First Lady’s husband contracting Covid…pardon…that’s right. She’s fine. it’s me that’s not together. the second lady, the first gentleman. How about that?” pic.twitter.com/X7aOvna3v3
— Matt Batzel (@MattBatzel) March 15, 2022
One reporter, Voice of America News White House bureau chief Patsy Widakuswara, reacted by suggesting that maybe it was meant to be a “joke” that was “poorly delivered” (understatement of the year contender!):
There was perhaps a poorly-delivered joke when @POTUS said the "first lady's husband contracting COVID". He was referring to the @SecondGentleman who apparently tested positive. pic.twitter.com/TpAsjHFmPF
— Patsy Widakuswara (@pwidakuswara) March 15, 2022
Fortunately, according to Biden, Emhoff is “feeling very well.” Biden on the other hand? Well, let’s just say the jury is still out on that one, or maybe not…
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