Biden also told NPR in early September that "Immediately, that moment it started, I came out against the war at that moment."
Since then, Biden has made some muddled attempts at clarification. But regardless, there is ample evidence in the public domain that he was a booster of the war both before and after.
As Tara Golshan and Alex Ward have written for Vox,
Soon after the invasion, Biden criticized the war effort for being underfunded. But that's a far cry from opposition.
He said in September 2003:
And he added:
In the Sept. 12 Democratic debate, Biden stumbled through an attempt to explain. All these Biden quotes are [sic]:
Clearly, Biden still hasn't come to terms with his massive error in judgment regarding what Sanders correctly described in the Jan. 14 debate as one of "the two great foreign policy disasters of our lifetimes," both of which "were based on lies."
Letting him say he made a mistake and moving on is letting him off way too easy.
Biden's pattern of gibberish
If you expect a president to be able to speak coherently about the matters of the day — and that would certainly be a nice change — Biden is not your man, at least not consistently. That's simply a fact.
The bigger issue is whether his speech is a reflection of an increasingly disordered brain.
He interrupts himself in mid-sentence and goes on extended riffs, introducing new subjects that seem to have nothing to do with what he was just talking about. He is sometimes impossible to follow. And he can get quite irascible.
He is in some ways the absolute verbal opposite of Warren, who speaks in complete paragraphs and meticulously explains everything she says. Biden is more like Ronald Reagan, in that his answers can leave the impression that they make sense, even when the actual words suggest otherwise. But he doesn't quite have Reagan's talent for pulling it off.
One of his most famous servings of word salad came during the Sept. 12 debate, when Bidenflailed in response to a question about segregation, suggesting, for instance, that black parents have their record players on at night.
In his interview with the New York Times editorial board, Biden was responding to a question about introducing a public option for health insurance, when he had this to say:
In a footnote, the Times did its best to explain what he was talking about, but that didn't really help:
Several interviewers have made token attempts — and sometimes more than that — to get Biden to address what they call his "gaffes." But even more troubling than his gaffes are those not-infrequent lapses into incoherence.
Interviewers also tend to ask their questions in the context of what impression his verbal slips make on voters, rather than what it means about Biden's fitness. And when he responds — often glibly, and sometimes unintelligibly — they move on.
Judy Woodruff interviewed Biden for the "PBS NewsHour" in November. She asked him whether his "uneven performances on the debate stage and verbal miscues as a campaigner" were preventing him "from presenting a strong and confident presence as a candidate."
Woodruff moved on.
In August, Washington Post opinion writer and podcaster Jonathan Capehart asked Biden about "the so-called gaffes, where you have said things that weren't exactly right, mushed stories."
They had an extensive, if inconclusive, back-and-forth about a Post story by Matt Viser that described the way Biden appeared to have "jumbled elements of at least three actual events into one story of bravery, compassion and regret that never happened."
Then, unprompted, Biden started talking about an incident earlier that month, when he had said twice in one day that he met with students who survived the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, when he was vice president. "I met with them and then they went off up on the Hill when I was vice president," he said that day, and then again later: "Those kids in Parkland came up to see me when I was vice president." But the Parkland shooting took place in February 2018, more than a year after Biden left office. Here's what he told Capehart:
What's the deal here, indeed?
Capehart, running out of time, moved on.
In the New York Times interview, deputy editorial page editor Kathleen Kingsbury asked Biden if he is too old to be running for president.
Much joking ensued about a push-up competition. After a while, editorial board member Binyamin Appelbaum asked Biden if there should be an upper age limit for the presidency.
Biden's answer was a great argument for it.
As if scripted, soon after that came a moment right out of a dotty-old-man skit on SNL:
Biden and the bankruptcy bill of 2005
Journalists have long anticipated a major battle between Biden and Warren over the bankruptcy bill, which Biden has long considered one of his chief legislative accomplishments, and which Warren bitterly opposed. As David Dayen writes for the American Prospect, "Entire long features — lots ofthem! — have been penned in anticipation of the moment."
But journalists should stop waiting for Warren to fire. Finding out where Biden stands now is too important to put off any longer.
As Matthew Yglesias explains for Vox, it's not just that the bankruptcy bill "made it harder for individuals to file for bankruptcy and get out of debt, a legal change that credit card companies and many major retailers had championed for years." It also undercuts the fundamental principle "that people who fail or experience bad luck can move on with their lives."
As Adam Levitin writes for the American Prospect, it was "perhaps the most anti–middle class piece of legislation in the past century":
Does Biden have regrets? Does he acknowledge the damage the bill did? What, if anything, changed his mind? These are essential questions.
Biden's deficit hawkery
Biden now supports increases in Social Security but, frankly, it's hard to believe that he's sincere about it.
History says otherwise. Ryan Cooper writes in The Week:
Perhaps the most important part of all this is that it's very much in character for Biden – it's his recent statements that aren't. As Ryan Grim writes in the Intercept:
When someone changes their rhetoric that dramatically, you can't take it on face value. You have to make them explain.
Biden and Republicans
Biden insists he will be able to win over Republican support for his legislative proposals — but he has proven completely incapable of persuasively explaining how he could possibly believe that.
When he provides examples of cooperation from the past, more often than not they are of Democrats caving to Republicans, rather than the other way around.
The latest example came in the New York Times editorial board interview. Asked how he would get Republican support for a public option, Biden cited the Cures Act. He said he had convinced "over 200, and I think 398 folks in the House to vote for it, when initially it started with 119 as well as, what did get? Eighty-nine senators, 90 senators — don't hold me the exact number — when it started off with 48. It's called persuasion. Presidents are supposed to be able to persuade."
He got no pushback in the room, but the Times explained in a footnote:
In a December interview, CNBC's John Harwood made several fruitless efforts to get Biden to offer a credible explanation for why he thinks Republicans would cooperate with him.
It simply makes no sense.
The gibberish continued as Harwood continued to push for an answer.
Credit Harwood for trying, especially since the conventional journalistic wisdom is that the question is a jump ball. In a September New York Times article, "Joe Biden Believes in the Good Will of Republicans. Is That Naïve?", Glenn Thrush wrote that "some Democratic rivals as well as ... the ascendant left wing of his party" think Biden is naive.
In reality, it's almost everyone else everywhere who thinks Biden is naive.
Biden and the New York Times
The most recently published interview with Biden was the one with the New York Times editorial board.
It's endless, but still worth skimming to understand that Biden never gets asked the really tough questions.
The most remarkable part about it, however, is that Biden apparently feels he has already been thoroughly tested and — despite having to hold back because some of the critiques came from women or people of color, and he couldn't appear "dismissive" — has come out stronger.
Editorial board member Michelle Cottle brought up his record, apologetically.
Later, he spoke again about how he has been tested:
Kingsbury, the deputy editorial page editor, interjected: "Everybody dies."
Biden replied: "I'm not going to die politically."