Earlier this cycle, Joe Biden told a tall tale about personally coming under fire in Iraq during a presidential debate, an exaggeration that The Hill discovered in August. While not anywhere near as blatantly false as Hillary Clinton’s Tuzla Dash — Biden did visit Iraq seven times while the Green Zone was generally taking fire — it demonstrated again Biden’s propensity for puffing up his resumé. And according to Jake Tapper, a check on another Biden-under-fire story looks like the Democratic VP candidate is edging closer to Tuzla territory:
“Ladies and gentlemen, where are we now? Where are we now?” Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., said to the National Guard Association today, talking about the war in Afghanistan.
“If you want to know where Al Qaeda lives, you want to know where Bin Laden is, come back to Afghanistan with me,” Biden said. “Come back to the area where my helicopter was forced down, with a three-star general and three senators at 10,500 feet in the middle of those mountains. I can tell you where they are.”
Biden said that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., “says he’ll follow them to the gates of hell. You don’t have to go to hell. Just go to Pakistan. Just go to that area. That superhighway of terror that exists between Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
Tapper searched through media reports and discovered the incident, which occurred this past February on a trip he took with John Kerry and Chuck Hagel. No one was injured, and more importantly, no one saw hide nor hair of the Taliban. Kerry described the incident to the Associated Press, and unlike the implication that the Taliban forced down the helicopter, it actually was bad weather:
“The weather closed in on us,” Kerry told the AP at the time in a phone interview from Turkey. “It went pretty blind, pretty fast and we were around some pretty dangerous ridges. So the pilot exercised his judgment that we were better off putting down there, and we all agreed…We sat up there and traded stories.”
Kerry joked, “We were going to send Biden out to fight the Taliban with snowballs, but we didn’t have to do it…Other than getting a little cold, it was fine.”
This gets closer to Tuzla Dash territory. The difference is that Hillary’s trip to Tuzla not only didn’t feature the sniper fire she claimed, it was a well known safe zone, which explains why Bill Clinton allowed his wife and daughter to fly into it. Afghanistan doesn’t have that kind of safe zone, and it takes some courage to tour the area by helicopter.
However, this has more similarities than differences to Hillary’s fable of coming under fire, and it’s the second time this year Biden has pulled a myth of his personal courage out on the campaign trail. Perhaps he feels the need to overcompensate for his lack of military service while attempting to run against a genuine war hero like John McCain, but clearly Biden’s trying to impress people through wild exaggerations of both his knowledge and his courage. Barack Obama hasn’t felt that need and hasn’t tried a Geraldo Rivera-like “My life was actually in danger” ploy, to his credit, but his running mate seems intent on proving something about himself that requires exaggeration or outright lies.
Even discounting the Al-Qaeda Snowstorm, Biden’s logic in telling this fable relies on a notion that al-Qaeda can’t be in two or more places at the same time. No one disputes that AQ is in Pakistan, but AQ is also in Iraq (and getting beat there), in Yemen, and perhaps a few more places as well. In 2000-1, AQ was in the United States, too, while also being in Pakistan, although not to the extent they existed in Pakistan.
Biden tried to explain his 1987 lies about his standing in law school and his scholarship as exaggerations that occur when he gets angry. This demonstrates that Biden hasn’t learned anything in over 20 years. He still wants to exaggerate to make himself look like the smartest and toughest guy in the room. What else will he “exaggerate” in his campaign stops?