Vice President Joe Biden, who has called “jobs” a three-letter word, “J-O-B-S,” and praised President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s response on television to the 1929 market crash (even though that happened before his term and television hadn’t been invented yet) has delivered another head-scratching remark.
Only this time the impact could be far more serious than the usual guffaws from those who know the career politician for his gaffes.
The statement was revealed by a profile in the New Yorker, which said that in 2011, Biden met with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin and told him, “Mr. Prime Minister, I’m looking into your eyes, and I don’t think you have a soul.”
The profile, which examined Biden’s impact on foreign affairs, quoted the vice president saying of the conversation: “I had an interpreter, and when he was showing me his office I said, ‘It’s amazing what capitalism will do, won’t it? A magnificent office!’ And he laughed. As I turned, I was this close to him. I said, ‘Mr. Prime Minister, I’m looking into your eyes, and I don’t think you have a soul.’”
The New Yorker reporter asked, “You said that?”
“Absolutely, positively,” Biden said. “And he looked back at me, and he smiled, and he said, ‘We understand one another.’”
The report of the exchange prompted speculation about its impact if Biden were to decide to run for president in 2016.
The Wire’s Arit John commented: “Biden has said he has four factors to consider: his family, his motivation, his fundraising ability, and whether he actually has a shot or, in his words, ‘Can you win this thing?’ We’re not sure if his Putin encounter will hurt or help his chances.”
The Moscow Times reported at the time, March 11, 2011, that Leonid Gozman, a leader of Russia’s Right Cause Party, confirmed Biden made the statement to Putin.
“Gozman said Biden also told the opposition leaders that he had ‘looked into Putin’s eyes and saw no soul’ – and personally told Putin about his observation,” the English-language Moscow paper said. “The quote is an apparent play on former President George W. Bush’s famous summary of his first meeting with Putin in 2001, when he said: ‘looked the man in the eye. I was able to get a sense of his soul.’”
Leading talk-radio host and author Michael Savage told WND the incident simply was Biden “trying to show he’s tougher than Obama so he can run in 2016.”
Ambassador Alan Keyes wrote: “I suppose that Biden has looked thus deeply into Obama’s eyes. Given that experience, maybe he was just commenting on the similarity. Or perhaps it was just one emptiness recognizing another, and Biden spoke boldly, thinking to establish a bond. (Isn’t this why Putin responded with a smile, confirming the bond, when he said, ‘We understand one another’? He obviously thought Biden’s remark was an attempt to ingratiate himself.)”
But there are cynics in politics who suggest that Obama, facing numerous calls for his impeachment from a wide range of political and other leaders, is offering up Biden in his unvarnished truth as impeachment insurance.
According to the Washington Times, some members of Congress recently met at a luncheon and declined to take up former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s call for impeachment.
“Rep. Raul Labrador said he didn’t believe that the president’s actions were yet worthy of impeachment and joked that ‘nobody wants a President Joe Biden,’” the report said.
One international observer said it was a huge breach of protocol to make such a statement, and longtime commentator George Will noted as early as 1987 Biden’s lack of “seriousness.”
Will, at the time, described Biden has having “mood swings” that ranging from “Hamlet to hysteria.”
Multiple blogs have carried that idea even further.
The Seattle Bubble cited Biden’s statement: “‘What are you talking about, Joe? You’re telling me we have to go spend money to keep from going bankrupt?’ The answer is yes, that’s what I’m telling you.”
The commentary’s question: “Insane. Stupid. Pure Evil. Which one is it?”
In 2012, Perry Drake at American Thinker wrote that the “most frightening takeaway from Thursday evening’s vice-presidential debate is that for the last four years Biden has been a coronary, cerebral hemorrhage, slip in the shower, steak lodged in the windpipe, caught in flagrante delicto by an armed Michelle away from the presidency.”
“The thought of that should send chills down the spine of every American who cares about the future of this nation.”
At the Deseret News, a reader commenting on a story about Biden wrote bluntly: “Bite-me Biden is insane.”
The New Yorker noted Republicans “rejoice in casting Biden as the consummate pol, careless, blustery, and a fogy. ‘Vice President Joe Biden’s in town,’ Sen. Ted Cruz said, at a dinner for South Carolina conservatives last year. ‘You know the great thing is you don’t even need a punch line? You just say that and people laugh.’”
He has suggested that today's immigration standards would have kept Barack Obama's ancestors at their shoemaking business in Ireland.
In an audio recording posted by the Washington Examiner, Biden is heard saying: "If the restrictions we're insisting on today existed when my great great-grandfather emigrated from Ireland, came in 1950, worked a year and then sent for his family."
He continues: "I might point out that particular grandfather left the same county in Ireland as a shoemaker within a month of Barack Obama's great great great-grandfather leaving the same county as a shoemaker at the same time.
"Isn't that amazing? Barack Obama and I are president now, and vice president of the United States of America. If we applied the same standards as we're applying today, that wouldn't have happened," he said.
Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, was a Kansas girl who moved to Hawaii with her parents, then met and married Kenyan student Barack Obama Sr., making the president of the United States half-white and half-black.
According to an online organization providing research into British and Irish ancestry, Obama's ancestors, on his mother's side, were members of a wealthy wig-making family.
"The Kearneys invested their profits from wigs, in property, as the city of Dublin grew rapidly in the 1700s. If fashions had not changed, Obama might not be here: The wig market declined at the same time that the Irish economy weakened, and eventually the family emigrated to the U.S.," the report said.
The phrase "mortally wounded" usually means killed. Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., was critically injured by a gunshot to the head in 2011, but she survived.
Earlier, Biden encountered two nuns outside of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican after he attended the Inauguration Mass of Pope Francis. Biden somehow divined from the nuns' smiles that they agreed with his views on immigration and gun control.
"It translates at home with the simple things like making sure we fix the broken immigration system, making sure we make our neighborhoods safer by having rational gun safety and international relations, reaching out and have war as the last option to protect our interests and so it was an exciting time. It gave me a lot of hope and, again, I'll close where I began. Just look at the expression in the faces of those two nuns. You can tell they share my view," he said.
During an online town hall, Biden said, "If you want to protect yourself, get a double-barrel shotgun, just fire two blasts outside the house."
He didn't explain how a two-shot shotgun could be used as a defensive weapon after firing both shots.
Biden followed that with more advice in an interview with Field and Stream magazine, advising gun owners to "just fire the shotgun through the door."
In a 2013 visit to London, Biden said the U.S. and Britain have an "open relationship."
After attending a U.K. national security council meeting he stated, "I spent half my life on our national security council." Biden at the time was 70. He has been on the U.S. National Security Council for four years.
Biden mistook Portugal for Poland in a statement later corrected on the official White House transcript. Referring to the European debt crisis, he spoke of, "Greece, Ireland, Poland, Spain and Italy." Poland was not suffering a debt crisis and is not even a member of the Eurozone.
In Munich, Biden mixed up former Sens. Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar. Again, the official White House transcript fixed the error.
Also in Munich, Biden said President Obama, the commander in chief, does not want to go to Iraq and Afghanistan.
See Biden's best:
"I have traveled over 640,000 miles since I've been vice president, and most of the time the president sends me to places that he doesn't want to go. (Laughter.) So I've spent an awful lot of time with McCain and others in Afghanistan and Iraq, and so it's nice to be here in Germany," he quipped.
Americans paid quite a price for Biden's trip to deliver misstatements, literally. A government document shows Biden's stay at the five-star Hotel Intercontinental Paris Le Grand cost taxpayers $585,000.50. He stayed there one night.
See the shotgun comment:
At the Iowa State Society inauguration ball, Biden declared, "I'm proud to be president of the United States." He corrected himself after the audience began to laugh, saying, "I'm proud to be vice president of the United States. And I'm prouder to be Barack Obama, President Barack Obama's vice president," he confusingly added.
Biden's gaffes through the years include many memorable turns of phrase.
Aug. 22, 2012: "Folks, I can tell you I've known eight presidents, three of them intimately."
Aug. 14, 2012 (to a largely African-American audience): "Look at what they [Republicans] value, and look at their budget. And look what they're proposing. [Romney] said in the first 100 days, he's going to let the big banks write their own rules – unchain Wall Street. They're going to put y'all back in chains."
May 16, 2012: "My mother believed and my father believed that if I wanted to be president of the United States, I could be vice president!"
April 26, 2012: "I promise you, the president has a big stick. I promise you."
March 23, 2010 (to President Obama, during the health-care law signing ceremony): "This is a big f---ing deal!"
March 17, 2010: "His mom lived in Long Island for 10 years or so. God rest her soul. And – although, she's – wait – your mom's still – your mom's still alive. Your dad passed. God bless [his] soul."
Feb. 6, 2009: "If we do everything right, if we do it with absolute certainty, there's still a 30 percent chance we're going to get it wrong."
Jan. 20, 2009 (referring to Justice John Paul Stevens): "Jill and I had the great honor of standing on that stage, looking across at one of the great justices, Justice Stewart."
Oct. 15, 2008: "... a three-letter word: jobs. J-O-B-S, jobs."
Sept. 22, 2008: "When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed. He said, 'Look, here's what happened." (The market crashed in 1929, before FDR was president.)
Sept. 12, 2008 (to wheelchair-bound Missouri state Sen. Chuck Graham): "Stand up, Chuck, let 'em see ya."
Sept. 10, 2008: "Hillary Clinton is as qualified or more qualified than I am to be vice president of the United States of America. Quite frankly, it might have been a better pick than me."
Aug. 23, 2008: "A man I'm proud to call my friend. A man who will be the next president of the United States — Barack America!"
Jan. 31, 2007: "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man."
June 2006: "You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. ... I'm not joking."