Joe Biden and his misfires: "France! Uhh… Germany"

US President Joe Biden is likely to be one of the people who receive the best medical care in the world. But even this can hardly prevent certain signs of aging. The 81-year-old repeatedly attracts attention with mix-ups and wrong statements.

A “well-meaning, older gentleman with a bad memory” is said to be the most powerful man in the world. This is what it says in a 388-page report by special investigator Robert Hur, which deals with the secret documents found on Joe Biden.

The good news for the US President: The secret documents from his time as Vice President found in his garage and office will not have any legal repercussions for him. But the Republican Hur made a devastating judgment about the 81-year-old. Biden is portrayed as a doddering old man who, in conversations, cannot remember the anniversary of his son Beau’s death or the end of his vice presidency. At the start of the election year, the report could hardly be more fatal.

Confidential documents from Biden’s time as vice president have surfaced in this private garage at Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware

© Department of Justice / ZUMA Press Wire / Action Press

Biden is in the middle of the campaign for his re-election. If the voters of the United States choose him again, he could be 86 years old at the end of his second term.

“I fucking know what I’m doing!”

In a short-term press conference on Thursday evening, Biden seemed to want to smooth things over. His memory is good. He angrily rejected several questions about his age: “I damn well know what I’m doing! I’m president and I’ve got this country back on its feet,” Biden told reporters.

This was shortly followed by one of the now infamous slips of the tongue that have dogged Biden since the 2020 election campaign – and which regularly provide Republicans with fodder for new attacks on the Democrat. He briefly declared the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, President of Mexico.

Considered as a single incident, mix-ups can happen. But Biden has had a whole list in recent years. An excerpt:

  • Earlier this week, Biden confused French President Emmanuel Macron with his predecessor, François Mitterrand. Mitterrand has been dead for 28 years. He briefly named him head of state of Germany, but then corrected himself.
  • Also this week he swapped long-time Chancellor Angela Merkel with former Chancellor Helmut Kohl. He had a conversation with him about the storming of the Capitol at the G7 summit in 2021. Kohl died in 2017, and Merkel was at the table as a negotiating partner at the G7 summit.
  • Biden recited the anecdote from the G7 summit repeatedly with small changes. The then British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to have spoken to him a few times, and another time it was the Italian Prime Minister. At one point, even former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt was said to have sat at the table at the meeting. Schmidt has also been dead since 2015.

In 2023, Joe Biden confused Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with Iraq

  • Much more unpleasant may have been a slip of the tongue in which he confused Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine with Iraq. In June 2023, he said of Putin that he was “clearly losing the war in Iraq.” Even Russia responded.
  • In general, Biden keeps confusing countries. After Indian President Narendra Modi visited him, the president expressed his gratitude for the visit from China. At the Asean summit, a Southeast Asian alliance of states, in Cambodia, he thanked Colombia’s head of government for the meeting. Colombia is in South America.

US President Joe Biden

  • That same year, Biden caused confusion with the phrase “God Save the Queen.” He ended a lecture on tightening gun laws by shouting: “God save the queen, man!” Mic Drop – then he put his microphone down and left the stage. At that time, British Queen Elizabeth II was already dead and Biden himself attended the funeral. The White House deputy press secretary said afterwards that the president was referring to someone in the audience. A journalist from Atlantic magazine however, found a different explanation. The US President sometimes uses this phrase satirically. Biden is said to have said the same thing in 2017 after he, as then Vice President, certified Donald Trump’s election. Nevertheless, the appearance caused ridicule on social media.

Slip of the tongue in the election campaign

  • There were also a few blunders in the 2020 election campaign. Shortly before the Democratic primaries in South Carolina, he ran for the wrong office: “My name is Joe Biden, and I am the Democratic candidate for the American Senate,” said the then 77-year-old presidential candidate.
  • Also in South Carolina, he promoted climate protection under President Barack Obama. As Vice President, he met China’s head of state “Deng Xiaoping” in 2015. Deng Xiaoping has been dead since 1997, and China’s head of state was already called Xi Jinping back then.
  • In 2019, Biden announced to his supporters: “We prefer the truth to the facts!” What was probably meant was “fiction”, during his presidency the then US President Donald Trump was regularly convicted of lying.

The list goes on. At the most recent press conference, when asked about the president’s general health, a spokeswoman for the White House pointed out that doctors had classified him as healthy. It is “completely normal” to mix up people sometimes. Undoubtedly, confusion and forgetfulness can happen, especially when you travel the world as much as the US President.

The 81-year-old has a long political career and first sat in the US Senate in 1973. However, election campaigns are not his greatest strength. The Republicans and their likely front-runner Donald Trump – himself 77 years old and not without his slips of the tongue – will take every opportunity to taunt them.

A new poll by NBC News shows that the electorate in the USA is also not enthusiastic about the age of their president. In it, 62 percent of those surveyed agreed with the statement that Biden’s mental and physical fitness was a “great concern” to them. Republicans and Democrats were surveyed.

Sources: NBC News, ntv, “New York Times”, report Robert Hur