President Joe Biden was out on the road last week touting the passage of his infrastructure bill to anyone willing to show up and listen. That’s understandable for any politician, particularly when your administration has so few “wins” to celebrate after nearly a year in office. But as we’ve known for many decades, when Joe gets on a roll during a speech he enjoys tossing in personal anecdotes to spice up the story. There is no end to the many tales of his time spent riding the trains back and forth between Delaware and Washington, though the details of some of them have turned out to be questionable at best. He continued that pattern when he stopped off in New Hampshire, giving a speech while standing next to a bridge. He seemed to be highlighting the importance of bridges and the need to keep them well-maintained, touting his infrastructure bill as doing just that. But then he decided to spice up his remarks by describing a time when his house “burned down with my wife inside it,” crediting a nearby bridge for allowing the firefighters to arrive in time to save the day. But as Jessica Chasmar points out at Fox News, the documented reality of that story is something different.
President Biden said last week that his house burned down with his wife Jill Biden inside before trying to correct himself, adding to a long list of personal stories he’s embellished over the years.
Speaking on a New Hampshire bridge on Tuesday about his bipartisan infrastructure plan, Biden said, “Without this bridge, as I said earlier, it’s a 10-mile detour just to get to the other side. And I know, having had a house burn down with my wife in it — she got out safely, God willing — that having a significant portion of it burn, I can tell: 10 minutes makes a hell of a difference.”
Biden has recalled the story before, saying in 2013 that a fire “destroyed a significant portion” of his New Hampshire home.
The reality of the house fire story turns out to be quite different than how Joe described it. Chasmar points us to an AP report archived by LexisNexis from the time of the fire. It shows that lightning struck the Biden house in 2004, starting “a small fire that was contained to the kitchen.” The article goes on to reiterate that the firefighters quickly got the fire under control and were able to “prevent the flames from spreading beyond the kitchen.” That doesn’t sound much like a case of your house burning down with your wife inside it.
On a related note, since Biden seems to be in the mood to talk about the importance of firefighters reaching structural fires in a timely manner, perhaps he could apply this tale to a different situation. Do you know what else causes delays in fire department response times? Fire stations that close because of vaccine mandates. But I suppose we shouldn’t dwell on that for too long.
This is starting to become reminiscent of Brian Williams. He too loved to spin interesting yarns and didn’t seem to have any problem with embellishing the details to make them more dramatic or exaggerate his role in the purported events. And yet he had been doing it for years before someone bothered to go investigate the details. For Joe Biden, it’s a very different situation. He’s the President of the United States. Every word he utters in public will be recorded for posterity and investigated.
As the linked report goes on to remind us. the house fire story isn’t the only charming but inaccurate anecdote that Biden loves to repeat. Just last month, Biden told a story for the fifth time during his presidency about a conversation he supposedly had with an Amtrack conductor that was a friend of his while riding on the train. (The conductor in question had actually died the year before the conversation supposedly took place.)
Even if you don’t find these incidents to be all that momentous, I suppose we should still be asking ourselves one question. Is Joe Biden intentionally lying in an effort to make his pitch more compelling? Or has he simply told these stories so many times over the years that he actually believes them? I would say that either is possible at this point and either would be worrisome, though for very different reasons, obviously. Despite his doctor recently giving him a clean bill of mental health, this sort of thing is going to keep such questions lingering in the minds of the public.