Yesterday, in a speech honoring the late Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Joe Biden took the opportunity to criticize President Trump for his handling of the coronavirus. According to Mr. Biden, by the time he finished his speech, about 200 million Americans, or nearly two thirds of the entire population, would have died of the virus. While he corrected himself moments later, saying that he meant to say that 200,000 have died, doctors and funeral directors around the country are still recovering from the shock, imagining for one terrible moment that the virus had become suddenly much more lethal.
In the aftermath, observers remarked that this was not the first time that Mr. Biden had played the Grim Reaper. In June of this year, he made a similarly frightening claim that 150 million Americans had died of coronavirus, and only recanted after 149,850,000 of the 150,000,000 dead Americans emailed his office in Delaware to say that they were very much alive, thank you.
Coming to Biden’s defense, the Children of the Golden Leg Hair, a youth group affiliated with the campaign, released a statement to the press urging calm and reminding everyone that not every Joe Biden story is false or embellished. Many of the original members of that group recall, in vivid detail, playing at the pool with the luxurious golden pelt of Biden’s shanks.
A similar statement of support came from certain members of the Syracuse University Law Class, where Mr. Biden once claimed that he had graduated in the top half of his class. (Biden later recanted, admitting that he ranked only 76,000th out of 85). “It was so long ago,” one of his former classmates said to a reporter who tracked him down to his current abode, a cardboard shelter in Central Park. “And I was right there with him in the top half of the class.”
While progressives see something loveable in Joe’s creative bravado, like a fondly remembered but slightly daft uncle, conservatives are worried. They point out that Mr. Biden’s penchant for exaggerating the ravages of the virus by a factor of a hundred leaves them wondering how any man, slightly or even mainly daft, could deliver such calamitous news as the deaths of 2/3 of the population so casually. The most comforting answer is that Mr. Biden simply does not see much difference between the numbers 200,000 and 200,000,000. Just a bunch more empty zeros. If Mr. Biden manages to get elected, this does not bode well for the budget, they say.
Others, looking for the silver lining of electing a president whose mind appears unmoored from simple mathematics, say that, rather than harping on about these slips and gaffes, we should be grateful that Mr. Biden did not attend Syracuse University’s School of Engineering and devote himself to building bridges. Those famous progressive bridges to nowhere would today be one hundred times as long, and so much closer to nowhere than they are already.