We all know that Old Joe Biden grew up as a black, Jewish, Puerto Rican Catholic. He famously said in January, “I may be a practicing Catholic, but I used to go to 7:30 mass every morning in high school and then on college, before I went to the black church. Not a joke.” Last September, he told a Jewish audience, “I probably, uh, went to shul more than many of you did. … I’m a practicing Catholic but I’d go to services on Saturday and Sunday. You think I’m kidding.” No, Joe, I think you’re lying. In October, Biden added, “I, uh, I, uh, was sort of raised, uh, in the Puerto Rican community at home, politically.”
In light of the putative president’s remarkably multifaceted and evolving upbringing, it came as something of a surprise Tuesday when Old Joe, speaking in Warsaw, didn’t claim to be Polish. Instead, he just said he grew up wishing he had been Polish. Could Joe Biden, after sixty years of cheerful and relentless lying, be starting to show some respect for the truth? Nah.
Sounding feeble and exhausted, Biden said, And, Mr. President, the connection between Polish and, uh, Amerrruuhhh — P-Polish and American people is extremely strong and deep. I was kidding with the President. I was, uh, as a young man, I was born in a coal town of Scranton, Pennsylvania, northeastern Pennsylvania, in an Irish Catholic neighborhood. Then when coal died, we moved down to Delaware, to a town called Claymont, Delaware, which was a working-class town. And, uh, but everyone in town was either Polish or Italian. I grew up feeling self-conscious my name didn’t end in an ‘s-k-i’ or an ‘o.’”
So Biden, the black Jewish Puerto Rican Catholic child, grew up feeling sorry that he wasn’t Polish or Italian. Why Old Joe drew the line at appropriating those identities along with his others is unclear. Maybe he was too tired after his surprise trip to Ukraine and other countries in Eastern Europe to concoct some story about how, in the few hours he had left after stopping by the synagogue, the Puerto Rican community center, the black church, and the Catholic church, he used to sneak off for pierogis and gołąbkis at his Polish buddies’ houses so often that his friends started to call him “Stosh.” And then, on his way home, he would stop by his Italian friends’ houses, where he would be greeted as “Tony,” for a couple of cannolis.
But just because Biden didn’t declare “Jestem Polakiem” (I am Polish) while in Warsaw, doesn’t mean his remarks were free of his chronic lying. Biden said, “When I was a young senator, I wrote a report and had a very senior staff member on the Foreign Relations Committee who was — and that was a committee — the next youngest person on that committee was 32 years older than me. And I came back from Europe, and I wrote a report saying that Poland would be free within a matter of a year. And my chief of staff then said, ‘Please don’t write that because you’re going to look foolish.’” Maybe it happened just that way, but if Senator Biden really predicted the fall of Communism in Poland, his aides were likely to have warned him of something far more serious than that he was going to “look foolish”: they would almost certainly have warned the young Democrat that he sounded like Ronald Reagan.
On June 8, 1982, in a speech before the British House of Commons, Reagan contradicted the conventional wisdom that the Soviet Union was here to stay and boldly predicted its demise. Reagan said, “The march of freedom and democracy…will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash-heap of history, as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people.” The international media, as well as many foreign policy “experts” within the Reagan administration, were aghast, charging that Reagan was destroying the possibility for further détente accords with the Soviets, and greatly increasing the possibility of nuclear war. The Soviet Union, they insisted, was here to stay, and Reagan was stupid and reckless not to acknowledge that. Reagan was mocked and ridiculed, but he turned out to be right.
Biden, as an establishment Democrat senator, would have been committing political suicide by standing with the hated Reagan and against the conventional wisdom. Like so much of what Old Joe says, this was another lie. But at least he didn’t tell us he grew up Polish.