Back in 1987, Joe Biden told a series of lies about his educational background. When confronted with them, he excused himself by saying, “I exaggerate when I’m angry.” Apparently the presidential debates last year also angered Biden, as he told a Tuzla Dash story last August that he later had to revise — although not nearly as dramatically as Hillary Clinton. The Hill reported on it at the time:
Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) — whose garrulous ways have led to a number of verbal gaffes over the years — has revised a dramatic comment that he was “shot at” in the Green Zone during a trip to Iraq. …
“Let’s start telling the truth,” he said. “Number one, you take all the troops out — you better have helicopters ready to take those 3,000 civilians inside the Green Zone, where I have been seven times and shot at. You better make sure you have protection for them, or let them die, number one.”
When asked for a detailed account of the experience, Biden described three incidents on two separate Iraq trips in which he felt that he was shot at or might have been shot at. Only one of them took place inside the Green Zone, he said, and involved a “shot” landing outside the building where he and other senators were staying. He added that the vehicle he was traveling in the day before might also have been hit.
Even Biden admitted that he was near where a shot landed, and he was staying in the Green Zone during a shelling, but he himself wasn’t targeted in the Green Zone. It’s not the kind of lie that Hillary told about Tuzla, which troops in Bosnia described as “Disneyland” for its quiet and peace. Biden went into Iraq and the Green Zone seven times when the Green Zone was still generally under fire. That takes courage and dedication, and his exaggeration unfortunately detracts from that.
Still, this episode demonstrated that Biden hasn’t gotten past his need to exaggerate for his own self-aggrandizement. Humility runs in Joe Biden, because if it didn’t, he’d hunt it down and kill it. Every personal anecdote and self-assigned expertise will have to get fact-checked because Biden appears incapable of refraining from blowing things out of proportion.
Perhaps the most important part of this story isn’t Biden’s exaggerations, but the fact that he traveled to Iraq six more times than the man at the top of the ticket when the situation remained dangerous. Barack Obama, who had prepared to run for President almost since the time he arrived in Washington in 2005, only made it to Iraq once during that same period until John McCain shamed him into a second visit this summer. Even with the exaggerations, maybe the Democrats have the ticket reversed.