Douglas Andrews / July 14, 2020

Pinocchi-Joe’s Trouble With Truth

Biden’s manifold problems run far deeper than his own marked cognitive decline.

With everyone so keenly focused on Joe Biden’s cognitive decline, too little time has been spent on the man’s character — or lack thereof. But even before he came to Washington 47 years ago, the Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee had a troubled relationship with the truth. Put another way, Scranton Joe is a lying, dog-faced pony soldier from way back.

It’s not clear when Biden told his first lie, but the ease with which he does so leads us to believe he got an early start. While it isn’t true that he coined the phrase, “Dog-faced pony soldier ate my homework,” Biden has a penchant for lying about his academic prowess. In 1987, for example, when he first ran for president, the candidate was politely asked by a man at a New Hampshire event where he’d gone to school and what his class ranking was. An indignant Biden bellowed, “I think I have a much higher IQ than you do, I suspect. I went to law school on a full academic scholarship — the only one in my class to have a full academic scholarship.”

And he was just getting warmed up.

“The first year in law school,” Biden continued, “I decided I didn’t want to be in law school and ended up in the bottom two-thirds of my class. And then decided I wanted to stay, went back to law school, and, in fact, ended up in the top half of my class. I won the International Moot Court Competition. I was the outstanding student in the political science department at the end of my year. I graduated with three degrees from undergraduate school and 165 credits. I only needed 123 credits.”

Every word of this is true — every word, that is, except the part about him going to law school on a full academic scholarship, and the part about him graduating in the top half of his class (he was a dismal 76th out of 85), and the part about him obtaining three undergraduate degrees.

If lies were darts, those three whoppers would be a tight grouping. But PolitiFact actually missed one: Biden wasn’t named the school’s outstanding poli-sci student, either. So in the space of just 124 words, he managed to lie for the cycle. (We could probably find falsehood in that “moot court” claim, too, but that’d be piling on.)

“I exaggerate when I’m angry,” said Joe when questioned about his mendacity, “but I’ve never gone around telling people things that aren’t true about me.” (Except when he does.)

What’s more, Biden actually got caught plagiarizing a paper during that same freshman year at Syracuse Law School — and Syracuse flunked him out for it. So while Biden eventually groveled his way back into school, it’s yet another lie for him to say he controlled his own destiny that year.

As for pilfering five pages of someone else’s work, Honest Joe says it was “much ado about nothing.” The dean ultimately vouched for his high character, he claims, and any lingering doubts about Biden’s integrity were quickly dispelled when he said of himself, “If anyone tells you Joe Biden isn’t a straight arrow, I’d be very surprised.”

It’d be uncharitable to invoke Mary McCarthy here — to say that every word out of Biden’s mouth is a lie, including “and” and “the” — but he clearly has a knack for it. His plagiarism of British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock is documented in this Washington Post article, which also notes that he lifted the words of Bobby Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey, and that he lied about having been “shot at” in Iraq’s Green Zone in 2007.

“There is no vice so mean, so pitiful, so contemptible,” said Thomas Jefferson some 235 years ago, “and he who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and a third time, till at length it becomes habitual.”

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