Alas, no, not really, but it’s easy to see why people jumped all over this clip. What makes this claim so easy to believe is Joe Biden’s unerring manner of sticking his foot firmly into his mouth in any number of ways. We didn’t call him The Old Gaffer for nothing in 2007-8, after all, and he has delivered on a number of occasions in this cycle already.
It’s just that this isn’t really one of those occasions, although the brief clip certainly sounds like one:
Joe Biden completely botches the Pledge of Allegiance:
"I pledge allegiance to the United States of America, one nation, indivisible, under God, for real." pic.twitter.com/Gct4AEVWog
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) September 21, 2020
Yes yes yes, that’s not the accurate text of the pledge of allegiance, as any schoolchild would know. (Or used to know, anyway.) However, Biden wasn’t actually reciting the pledge at his appearance in Wisconsin yesterday. He was making another point altogether and quoting from the pledge to make it. It takes place at the 27:10 mark, more or less:
If you live in a state like Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, states with Democratic governors, you’re not his [Trump’s] problem. He has no obligation to you. He’s not responsible for you as president, your family or your well-being. I don’t see the presidency that way. I don’t pledge allegiance to red states of America or blue states of America. I pledge allegiance to the United States of America. One nation, indivisible, under God, for real!
This is a somewhat risible argument, but not because Biden muffed the pledge. After all, it wasn’t Trump who all but ignored those three states in 2016. It’s also not Republicans who dismiss these states and others as “flyover country,” either. In 2020, Trump has once again focused much of his attention on those three states along with Minnesota, also governed by Democrats. Biden, meanwhile, has barely ventured out of his basement until just recently, and even then only briefly.
However, the full context of Biden’s remarks shows he didn’t gaffe on the pledge, but quoted from it to make a point that’s easily refutable. The moral of the story here is — beware of eight-second clips shorn of context.
Biden’s proclivity for gaffery certainly exists as a significant issue for Democrats, if not his proclivity for flat-out lying and plagiarizing. Nowhere will that be a bigger risk than in the debates, which begin next Tuesday. Andrew Malcolm remains unconvinced that Biden will actually show up for the debates because of these risks, and the crutches he’s needed just to get this far:
But a casual town hall with friendly Anderson Cooper is not what’s coming next week. Biden and Trump will face the honestly tough, professional inquiries of Fox News’ Chris Wallace. Trump has already done a Sunday show with Wallace. So, he knows what to expect. Biden did some primary debates last winter. He’s invited reporters to attend a reading of an announcement, but he’s often walked offstage without taking any questions.
And this cycle, he’s not done much media at all beyond local TV interviews where he hasn’t faced bare-knuckle questions about his vast pie-in-the-sky spending plans, his $3 trillion-plus tax proposals or his son’s financial dealings in China. Hillary Clinton made the same media mistake four years ago.
If Trump can use a hostile media to his advantage, you’d think an agile Biden could take advantage of his sympathizers in that field.
But can Biden handle the pressures of a fast-paced, two-hour national broadcast face-to-face with a hard-nosed host and a blustery opponent?
Prediction: After Trump announces his nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Biden withdraws from the debates in protest. Not only will that rally progressives behind him, it will avoid a potential debacle on national TV. Trump can switch to rallies instead, poking fun at Biden’s retreat.