Joe Biden’s claim that he warned America about the coronavirus in January is central to his presidential campaign message. It also happens to repeat a pattern that Biden has displayed throughout his career: falsely claiming to have predicted disaster.
As Ebony Bowden recounted in the New York Post on Thursday, Biden has a long habit of claiming to have predicted the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 — a tall tale that falls apart immediately when examined against the facts of history:
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for years falsely claimed in interviews that he predicted the 9/11 terror attacks and a possible strike on the White House in a speech delivered the day before terrorists flew planes into the Twin Towers.
He repeated this claim for years, boasting that he “warned about a massive attack on the United States of America from terrorists,” and that he “wasn’t clairvoyant” but “knew what everybody else knew.”
Biden had, in fact, given a speech in which he briefly mentioned the threat of bioterrorism the day before 9/11. His larger point was an argument against President George W. Bush’s plans for missile defense: Biden argued that a biological or chemical weapon was more likely to be slipped into the U.S. quietly rather than in a formal missile attack. He certainly did not predicted the attack that followed the next day.
Trump, by the way came far closer to predicting the 9/11 attacks, as Buzzfeed — an anti-Trump outlet — noted in 2015:
In 2000, 19 months before Sept. 11, 2001, Donald Trump wrote extensively of the terrorism threat the United States was facing.
“I really am convinced we’re in danger of the sort of terrorist attacks that will make the bombing of the Trade Center look like kids playing with firecrackers,” wrote Trump in his 2000 book, The America We Deserve. “No sensible analyst rejects this possibility, and plenty of them, like me, are not wondering if but when it will happen.”
Trump even mentions Osama bin Laden by name, in a criticism of an American foreign policy that too quickly jumps from one crisis to the next.
Biden’s story about the coronavirus follows a similar pattern. Biden likes to claim that he saw it coming, based on an op-ed he published in the USA Today on January 27, 2020. (President Trump’s coronavirus task force was formed the same day.)
But while the op-ed made the general observation that the pandemic “will get worse before it gets better,” it made no recommendations for immediate action.
Biden’s proposals were bland — i.e. “reassert U.S. leadership in global health security” — and they described what he would do as president, i.e. in January 2021, assuming that he won the election.
Nothing Biden did after that op-ed suggested that he thought the pandemic was particularly urgent. He continued to hold in-person campaign events, including rallies, until March 10. And the coronavirus was never a topic of direct discussion at any Democratic presidential debate until Mike Bloomberg — not Biden — brought it up in South Carolina Feb. 25.
In his phony story about 9/11, Biden used a speech about terrorism the day before to claim he specifically predicted what transpired the day after. Likewise with his claims about coronavirus, where Biden is using a single article about pandemic policy generally to claim some kind of special insight about what followed.
Notably, Biden opposed travel bans in his op-ed — and even Dr. Anthony Fauci, whom Biden says he would retain, has testified that Trump’s travel bans saved American lives.
Throughout his career, Biden has repeatedly exaggerated his own abilities, insights, and foresights. In 1987, he infamously lied about his academic record, falsely claiming to have attended law school on a “full academic scholarship” and have “graduated with three degrees” from college.
Earlier this year, Biden falsely claimed to have “started the effort to make sure we took down the guy who was engaged in genocide in the Balkans: Slobodan Milosevic.” As Bowden observed in a separate Post analysis, Biden was late to that effort.
The Washington Post fact-checked Biden when he made a similar claim in 2008, and concluded that “despite the bravado, Biden was not a key player in the legislation that ultimately forced Bill Clinton to lift an arms embargo imposed by the United Nations on Bosnian Muslims fighting the Serbs.”
Biden has even claimed credit for things that never happened. In his vice presidential debate with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Biden claimed that “we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon.” The Wall Street Journal wryly observed: “The U.S. never kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, and no one else has either.”
Biden’s exaggerated claims about the coronavirus deserve to be seen in the context of his past bluster. As with 9/11, he has exploited a national crisis and distorted the truth.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.