Thursday, May 21, 2009

How To Succeed in Bosnia without Really Lying

I love the smell of sniper fire in the morning.
My new favorite prognosticator of cooked-up Obama administration controversies,, is now seething over a report that Vice President Biden, in speaking to the parliament of Bosnia-Herzegovina, recalled being fired upon during a 1993 visit to the capital, which was then under siege.

According to a reporter at the speech, Biden "recalled his trip to the country in 1993, and how, flying in at the time, his plane was fired upon, and bombed-out homes with snipers inside could be seen." And the eyes reflexively roll. Ah, Joe -- always out with something ridiculous.

What's funny though is that the statement doesn't sound like one of Joe Biden's typical gaffes. Biden just doesn't deliver the Hillaryesque landing-under-sniper-fire embellishments that start with a basis in reality and add on something unbelievable. No, his semantic seizures usually tend to be dumbass mistakes like telling a guy in a wheelchair to stand up, or reveal his inner unvarnished hick, such as when he said that you can't go into a 7-11 in Delaware without hearing an Indian accent. But making stuff up out of whole cloth? That's not really him.

And in fact the White House prepared statement doesn't mention Biden being shot at. Now maybe he mentioned having his plane shot at in a departure from his prepared statement. Maybe he made a joking reference to Hillary's famous remarks. Maybe the reporter simply misheard him -- or maybe the account is accurate. Since no video is currently available, the Times account can't be verified, nor can Biden's actual speech be viewed or understood in context. But the FoxNation folks haven't let that stop them -- expect this to be a right-wing meme, whether true or not, for a while.

Oh, and there's one more thing. Biden, in a moment of bracing diplomatic bluntness, told Bosnia-Herzegovina's assembled lawmakers that their best bet was to knit themselves into the European community, but that they were still on the wrong path to doing that. This forwardness is the privilege of Biden's being engaged in the region for almost two decades; and his pragmatic advice has the credibility of the diplomacy that culminated in the Dayton accords. But don't expect Republicans to notice that -- they're too busy trying to make tea party hors-d'oeuvres out of the crumbs of a successful foreign policy.

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