I had to watch it twice, just because the first time I was too struck by how much he sounded like Grandpa Simpson to follow the story he was telling.
This clip is actually a few years old but was resurrected by writer Michael Harriot, who devoted an entertaining Twitter thread to it yesterday. It picks up with Biden recounting his stint as a teenaged lifeguard at a city pool in a black neighborhood in Wilmington. One day, says Joe, a local gangster who went by the name of … “Corn Pop” dropped by with a few other members of his gang — “the Romans” — and began bouncing up and down on the diving board. Get offa there, Esther Williams!, said Joe to Corn Pop. (Google “Esther Williams” if you must.) Corn Pop didn’t care for that, and Biden was made to understand that the Romans would be waiting for him outside after his shift with straight razors.
At which point, if you believe Joe, the future vice president of the United States had a six-foot length of chain cut for him right there on the spot and went outside to inform Mr. Pop that he’d wrap the chain around his head if he came by and misbehaved again.
But somehow it all worked out with everyone becoming friends, as you’ll see.
If this smells like a BS cake frosted with BS and filled with a warm, oozy BS ganache, that’s how it smelled to Harriot too. “Corn Pop” and “the Romans” sound like what a gang in a Broadway musical would be named. It’s Biden’s version of “T-Bone,” Cory Booker’s mysterious teary-eyed drug-pushing friend from Newark whom no one’s ever been able to locate.
But I have a surprise ending for you: Biden might be telling the truth. Watch the second clip in this Mediaite post and you’ll see that former Delaware NAACP President Richard Smith *also* remembers Corn Pop. And he remembers that Biden “stood his ground” during the confrontation between them, albeit without the detail about him wielding a chain like Mad Max.
Which leaves us where, exactly? At every point in this story, Biden seems like he’s five seconds away from saying that he tied an onion to his belt, as was the style of the time. And yet, if you believe Smith, his memory of this 55-year-old incident is largely accurate. What if Joe actually has a mind like a steel trap and he’s just terrible at expressing himself?
Anyway, no Democratic primary voters are going to care whether this is true or false, so he has that going for him.
I have no comment outside of urging everyone to watch this incredible clip.pic.twitter.com/e19hQSDNug
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) September 15, 2019