Yesterday, Joe Biden claimed that 14 foreign leaders have called him to “voice concern” about President Trump. Among the 14, he said, was Margaret Thatcher. Lady Thatcher died in 2013, thus missing out on the Trump presidency.
Biden then corrected himself, saying that he was actually referring to current British Prime Minister Theresa May. He called his mistake a “Freudian slip.”
Freudian? Maybe. Both are female authority figures (though May’s authority is minimal). Biden might have liked to sniff the hair of both.
Still, I think confusing the two (MT and TM) was really just a minor gaffe. We can expect this kind of thing from Biden on a weekly, if not a daily, basis
In correcting himself, though, Biden may have committed a major gaffe. I doubt that Prime Minister May, if she really did express concern over Trump to Biden, authorized him to disclose to the world that she did so. After all, Trump will be the U.S. president for almost two more years at a minimum.
It’s true that May might well be long gone by January 2021. However, she’s not gone yet. Thus, it’s not in her interest, or in the interest of her country, to have Trump learn that she has serious concerns about him (if she does) and that she expressed them to a political opponent of Trump, thereby interfering in America’s electoral process (to borrow a phrase) to the president’s detriment.
If Biden becomes president, we can look forward not just to minor gaffes, but to mistakes like this one that may harm our diplomatic position. To be sure, Trump sometimes makes statements that harm our relations with foreign leaders. However, he typically does so with a purpose — e.g., to put them on notice of his displeasure with a policy. Biden will do so inadvertently because he’s not very smart.
Speaking of not being very smart, let’s remember that Biden has tripped himself up with British politicians before. His 1988 presidential campaign ended after he was caught stealing lines from Neil Kinnock is his campaign speeches — lines Kinnock had used when running as the leader of the Labour Party against. . .Margaret Thatcher.
So maybe there really was something Freudian about Biden’s reference to Thatcher.