Biden Still Hasn’t Figured Out How to Read the Room

If you’ve spent any time in Washington, you’ve heard stories about Joe Biden’s loquaciousness. Asked to give brief remarks, he’d famously meander for 30, 40, or more minutes about whatever came into his mind.

But his verbosity is a symptom of his larger problem: a lack of situational awareness. After all, this is the guy who once asked a man in a wheelchair to stand up and take a bow.

My favorite example came just after the 9/11 attacks, when Biden met with his Senate committee staffers and went into a “stream-of-consciousness monologue” about how to respond. “I’m groping here,” he confessed after a while, and then had a eureka moment. To assure the Arab world the U.S. “wasn’t bent on its destruction,” Michael Crowley reported in the New Republic, Biden declared: “Seems to me this would be a good time to send, no strings attached, a check for $200 million to Iran.”

According to Crowley, Biden “surveys the table with raised eyebrows, a How do ya like that? look on his face.” Staffers eventually broke the perplexed silence, offering a number of objections. It didn’t matter: “Joe Biden is barely listening anymore. He’s already moved on to something else.”

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