Biden gaffe #421,982.
Vice President Joe Biden wandered a little off course on a trip down memory lane today.
“Fifteen years ago, I was honored, as the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, to lead the fight for Poland’s admission into NATO,” Biden said in Warsaw during a visit designed to reassure America’s Eastern European allies in the wake of Russia’s move to take control of Crimea.
The only problem: Biden wasn’t chairman back then.
It was Sen. Jesse Helms, a North Carolina Republican, who guided the committee and launched the floor debate on granting NATO accession to Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Biden did lead minority Democrats in approving the treaty resolution, after having initially expressed doubts about the political viability of expanding NATO.
“If we are really going to alienate the Russians,” Biden asked in January 1997, according to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, “what are we going to get for it?”
Biden went on to make the point that it needed more public discourse — which it got before he signed on — to have any chance of winning popular support.
“Right now, if I stand up and start talking with my constituents about the price, if I tell them, ‘We are about to extend our nuclear umbrella to Slovakia,’ I wonder how many people in Dagsboro, Del., are going to say, ‘Hey, that’s a great idea.’”