Something gaining on him

President Biden gave a speech at the National Veterans Day Observance this past Thursday. The White House has posted the text here.

Acknowledging the presence of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s elderly father Donald, former United States ambassador to Hungary (1994-1997), Biden set out to joke about his and Blinken’s advanced age with a humorous reference to Satchel Paige. The elder Blinken turned 96 on Veterans Day.

Biden’s stab at humor was flat as a flounder. This is how Biden introduced it. Addressing Blinken, he said:

And I just want to tell you, I know you’re a little younger than I am, but, you know, I’ve adopted the attitude of the great Negro — at the time, pitcher in the Negro Leagues — went on to become a great pitcher in the pros — in the Major League Baseball after Jackie Robinson. His name was Satchel Paige.

If you’ve seen this mentioned anywhere, it is to mock Biden for referring to Paige as “the great Negro.” Hearing it, I think Biden bollixed up the intended word order. He did not mean to refer to Paige as “the great Negro.” He meant to refer to him as “the great Negro League pitcher” or something to that effect. Trying to joke about his age, Biden instead illustrated his age-related cognitive impairment. That is my take.

Here is Biden’s attempted humor:

And Satchel Paige, on his 47th birthday, pitched a win against Chicago. (Laughs.) And all the press went in and said, “Satch, it’s amazing — 47 years old. No one’s ever, ever pitched a win at age 47. How do you feel about being 47?” He said, “Boys, that’s not how I look at it.” They said, “How do you look at it, Satch?” He said, “I look at it this way: How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?”

I’m 50 years old and the ambassador is 47.

But all kidding aside…

How unfunny can you get? A lame sense of humor is no crime, but this isn’t funny. As Biden might say, no joke.

The “master maxim” for which Paige is best known goes like this: “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.” It seems that Biden has been doing a lot of looking back.