What’s wrong with this picture?

President Biden spoke at the Governors Ball Dinner in the State Dining Room at the White House on Saturday evening (video excerpt below). The White House has posted the transcript of his brief remarks here.

After the introductory blather, Biden referred to the portrait of Abraham Lincoln behind him — you can see it here — as he attempted to follow his text. This is how the White House transcript of the fourth paragraph reads:

And, you know, standing here in front of this portrait of the man behind me here, he — he said — and I want to make sure I get the quote exactly right. He said, “We — the better angels” — he said, “We must address the counsel — and adjust the better angels of our nature.” And we do the — and we do well to remember what else he said. He said, “We’re not enemies, but [we’re] friends.” This is in the middle of — this is in the — in the part of the Civil War. He said, “We’re not enemies, but [we’re] friends. We must not be enemies.”

“The [unnamed] man behind [him]” was Lincoln. Remember him? The attempted quotation comes from the famous passage that concludes Lincoln’s first inaugural address:

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

The Daily Mail reports on Biden’s senescent ramble in “Biden completely butchering lines from Lincoln’s inaugural address – and then gets laughs when he jokes about his age after telling audience: ‘I wanna get this quote exactly right.'” However, I’m not sure that this was the worst of Biden’s brief remarks. He also took an incoherent stab at his phony remembrance of things past:

And, you know, it seems to me that — I’ll conclude by saying, I — I’ve spent a lot of time with Xi Jinping — someone whom I have a great deal of difference with. And I was — when I was vice president, President — my — my president was — told me that he wanted me to get to know Xi Jinping because it was clear he was going to be the head of Russia — of — of China and that he — we had a — we were having problems with Russia at the time and other countries as well. And so, what he said was, “Get to know him. He’s going to be there.” I — and he couldn’t because he was the president, and he couldn’t travel. So, I traveled 17,000 miles with him throughout the country — our country and — and in — in China, as well.

We were in the Tibetan Plateau. And he turned to me, and he said, “Can you define America for me?” And I — given this has been documented, and it’s real — I looked at him, and I said, “Yes, I can. In one word.” And he looked at me. And he said, “What’s that?” And I said, “Possibilities.” Possibilities.

You say president, you say vice president. You say Russia, you say China. Let’s call the whole thing off.

Biden has reached the stage of life described by Mark Twain. His faculties have decayed to such an extent that he cannot remember any but the things that never happened. This 17,000-mile shtick has been debunked many times. Glenn Kessler devoted one of his Washington Post Fact Checker columns — this one — to it in February 2021. He awarded it 3 Pinocchios.

However, it’s the substance of the story that is most absurd. Biden says it has been “documented.” That means he has told the story many, many times. According to Matt Viser’s 2022 Washington Post story, aides who were with Biden say that they do not recall that exchange. It has been “documented” by his repetition of it.

We can go this far with the story. When Xi observes an Obama or a Biden, he wonders how he can exploit the “possibilities.”

The White House transcript specifies the time of Biden’s remarks at 7:40 P.M. EST. He wound up at 7:44. It was past the guy’s bedtime. Fortunately, the State Dining Room is located in the Executive Residence of the White House. He only had a few pitty-pat steps to go before his head hit the pillow for the evening.

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