Former Vice President Joe Biden dismissed the criticism he’s encumbered in recent days for fabricating an emotional story about the Afghanistan War, claiming “details are irrelevant.”
Biden, who has continually attacked President Donald Trump as a liar on the campaign trail, made the remarks during an interview with NPR that was first released Tuesday. In particular, Biden was asked if “details,” not “just intentions,” mattered within the confines of the presidency. The question was in relation to an expose from the Washington Post indicating Biden invented a heart-wrenching story about pinning a medal on a reluctant Navy officer.
The former vice president started his response by attacking the media, who “loves” to misrepresent his public appearances, before attempting to steer the conversation towards the “judgement” needed to send “troops to war” or “decide on a healthcare policy.”
The reporter conducting the interview, however, quickly pushed back on the deflection, saying voters were not concerned about judgement, but rather his fuzziness on “details.”
“The details are irrelevant in terms of decision-making,” Biden responded, before trying to further downplay the controversy.
“It’s like saying I had this very bright reporter and I think her eyes were blue,” he said. “What difference would it make about whether you were a bright reporter. Your eyes are brown. It’s irrelevant and you know it.”
The controversy derives from a story Biden told to more than 400 New Hampshire voters last month about how he was asked during his tenure as vice president to travel to Afghanistan to honor a Navy captain who risked his life saving a downed comrade.
According to Biden’s recollection, the captain “rappelled down a 60-foot ravine under fire and retrieved the body of an American comrade, carrying him on his back.” When his superiors sought to honor him with a “Silver Star,” the captain refused, as his comrade had died during the mission.
When Biden first told the story everyone in the audience was left “silent” by the raw emotion the former vice president exhibited. Unfortunately for Biden, however, the Post found “almost every detail in the story” to be “incorrect” upon closer investigation. According to the report:
Biden visited Kunar province in 2008 as a U.S. senator, not as vice president. The service member who performed the celebrated rescue that Biden described was a 20-year-old Army specialist, not a much older Navy captain. And that soldier, Kyle J. White, never had a Silver Star, or any other medal, pinned on him by Biden. At a White House ceremony six years after Biden’s visit, White stood at attention as President Barack Obama placed a Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor, around his neck.
The paper concluded that the 76-year-old former Biden had in fact conflated three different stories, including one in which he actually “did pin a medal on a heartbroken soldier, Army Staff Sgt. Chad Workman, who didn’t believe he deserved the award.”
“In the space of three minutes, Biden got the time period, the location, the heroic act, the type of medal, the military branch and the rank of the recipient wrong, as well as his own role in the ceremony,” the Post reported.
Despite Biden’s assertions that “details are irrelevant,” the controversy only underscores the recent doubts that have emerged regarding his fitness for the presidency. Specifically, the former vice president has shown difficulty remembering specific events, locations, and individuals during public events—such as when Biden appeared to forget the name of his former running mate, President Barack Obama.
“They invaded a significant portion of another country and annexed a significant portion of it called Crimea,” Biden said last month when discussing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “He’s saying it was President — my boss — it was his fault.”
Apart from raising questions about his readiness to serve as commander in chief, the controversy over the fabricated story also undercuts Biden’s argument that Trump is morally unfit to lead.
“Everybody knows who Donald Trump is,” Biden often says at the end of his stump speech. “Even his supporters know who he is. We got to let him know who we are. We choose unity over division. We choose science over fiction. We choose truth over lies.”