How fake are President Joe Biden’s outlandish personal anecdotes? Consider that The Washington Post ran a 24-paragraph story when it turned out one of them might be true.
I refer, of course, to the tale of “Corn Pop,” a gang member Biden allegedly faced off against during his time as a lifeguard in Wilmington, Delaware. Corn Pop was a “bad dude” who “ran a bunch of bad boys,” Biden told an audience in 2017.
After Biden insulted Mr. Pop at the local pool, Corn and his straight razor-wielding buddies told him to meet them outside. Biden took a length of chain to confront Corn Pop face to face — but then apologized, defused the situation and eventually became friends with the “bad dude.”
This is BIZARRE!
Here’s Joe Biden telling the story of his face-off with a gang of razor-wielding ne’er-do-wells led by a guy named ‘Corn Pop.’ pic.twitter.com/DddRtWgdza
— Eddie Zipperer (@EddieZipperer) September 15, 2019
The video of Biden telling the story resurfaced in 2019 and made his critics suspicious for obvious reasons.
Imagine our collective shock when the Post confirmed that, yes, there was a guy named William Morris who went by “Corn Pop” and was friends with Biden — even if the outlet couldn’t corroborate the exact anecdote Biden told.
News, as the saying goes, is man-bites-dog, not dog-bites-man. If the Post reported on Corn Pop’s existence as a man-bites-dog story worthy of 24 paragraphs, what does that tell you about Biden’s stories in general?
And the man-bites-dog element wasn’t even that the story was verifiably true — just that certain parts of it were. Imagine if the Post had confirmed the confrontation itself! It would have been front-page, above-the-fold stuff, at least for the ink-stained wretches who still know what “above the fold” means.” (For the rest of us, it would have “gone viral.”)
Is Joe Biden a compulsive liar?
When dealing with Biden’s habit of telling tall tales, I’ve always gone back to how The Atlantic’s Mark Bowden described him in a 2010 profile of the then-VP: He “has the limber storyteller’s tendency to stretch.”
It’s well put — if dishwater-mild, since many of these stories have proved to be outright lies. Many others aren’t just uncorroborated but — almost as if by design — not able to be corroborated, period.
But there’s a more unpleasant medical diagnosis for Joe Biden: compulsive liar.
I know, I know, we use those words a lot to describe politicians. Lying is, after all, par for the course in Washington, D.C. However, the actual psychological diagnosis, as laid out by MedicineNet, is a bit more specific:
- Compulsive liars will “bend the truth about everything, large or small.”
- “Their stories usually do not add up.”
- They “display the classic lying behaviors, such as avoiding eye contact, breaking out into a sweat, and tripping over their words or rambling.”
- “They often lie for no clear reason, and sometimes, for no real benefit, they make lies up more spontaneously, don’t do much thinking, and prefer to tell the sorts of lies that they think people want to hear.”
Keep all that in mind as we go through Biden’s tale of Angelo Negri, the Amtrak conductor. Again.
On Monday, the president spoke in New Jersey to promote his “Build Back Better” plan. “I apologize because some have heard this,” Biden told his audience, according to The Associated Press. “I swear to God. True story.”
“I commuted every single day, 263 miles a day, on Amtrak from the time I got elected United States senator. As a matter of fact, when I was vice president, I used to like to take the train home when my mom was very sick and dying, and I’d come home every weekend to make sure I’d take the train home,” Biden said.
“And I’m getting on one Friday, and then one of the senior guys on Amtrak, Angelo Negri — I got to know all the conductors really well; they became my friends. … Ang walks up to me and goes, ‘Joey, baby!’ Grabs my cheek. And I thought the Secret Service was going to blow his head off.”
“I said, ‘What’s up, Ang?’ He said, ‘Joey, I read in the paper — I read in the paper you traveled 1,000 — 1.2 million miles on Air Force planes.’ … He said, ‘You know how many miles you traveled on Amtrak, Joey?’ And I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘The boys and I figured it out.’ … He says, ‘You travel 2 million’ — I think it was 180, but — ‘2,200,000 miles,’” Biden continued.
“I said, ‘How did you get that answer?’ He said, ‘Well, 267 miles a day. We figured you traveled 119 days a year for 36 years, and then you traveled as vice president.’ And then he goes, ‘So, Joey, I don’t want to hear this about the Air Force anymore.’”
Want to hear Biden tell the story, only with a fake Italian accent for Negri so inept it wouldn’t pass muster in an Olive Garden commercial? Well, here you go! The president served it up piping hot like a spicy meatball at Amtrak’s 50th anniversary celebration back in April.
All this, plus unlimited salad and breadsticks, all for just a $700 million loss in the 2020 fiscal year. Amtrak: When you’re here, you’re a family of taxpayers keeping our heavily subsidized long-haul passenger railways running, no matter how little economic sense it makes.
Biden’s told this story numerous times. The only reason anyone cares about it at all is that it’s a blatant lie that’s been fact-checked to death.
“The tale as Biden spins it is wrong,” the AP pointed out. “Negri could not have had that conversation because he was already deceased by the time Biden logged 1.2 million miles on Air Force Two.” Oh, and Negri retired in 1993, so there’s that.
The AP is very kind to Biden, suggesting that maybe he spoke to another conductor who wasn’t Angelo Negri — even though every time we’ve heard this story he’s mentioned Negri specifically by name.
The fake Amtrak anecdote isn’t the real issue. The issue is that this kind of low-stakes prevarication is part of a pattern with Biden.
While visiting a Mack facility in July, Biden said he “used to drive an 18-wheeler.” (Remember, compulsive liars “prefer to tell the sorts of lies that they think people want to hear.”) The White House covered for him by pointing to an article about how Biden once rode in an 18-wheeler back in 1973. Right.
There is zero evidence that Biden “used to drive an 18 wheeler”
— Zach Parkinson (@AZachParkinson) July 28, 2021
On a visit to Idaho in September, Biden said his “first job offer” was from a lumber company called Boise Cascade. (“Not a joke,” he assured his audience.) The company said it had no record of his application.
Joe Biden says his “first job offer” was from Idaho lumber company Boise Cascade.
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) September 13, 2021
More troublingly, he greatly exaggerated his involvement in the civil rights movement during his abortive 1988 presidential run. He walked back his claims months later — only to trot out the lie again during his time in the Obama White House.
In 1987, Joe Biden claimed he marched in the civil rights movement. A few months later, Biden disavowed the claim. Decades later, during the Obama era, and more recently on the campaign trail, he started making the same claims again. https://t.co/NAlMJ6ZTq7 pic.twitter.com/tpmE6VXmG6
— The Intercept (@theintercept) February 14, 2020
Now he’s at it again as president.
Joe Biden baselessly claims he was involved in civil rights movement. pic.twitter.com/9xdJ1GJyXk
— The First (@TheFirstonTV) October 18, 2021
He claimed several times he was arrested in South Africa in the 1970s while trying to visit the imprisoned Nelson Mandela. He would later clarify that he was merely “stopped” by police and could not “move where I wanted to go.”
Biden has also said the truck driver who killed his wife and daughter in 1972 “drank his lunch instead of eating his lunch.”
There was never a shred of evidence for this. In fact, the judge in the case definitively said “alcohol being involved by either party, especially the truck driver, is incorrect” and bluntly told Politico in 2019 that if Biden wanted to apportion blame, his wife was likely the cause of the accident: “She had a stop sign. The truck driver did not.”
And then there’s this sign of a compulsive liar: “the classic lying behaviors, such as … tripping over their words or rambling.” Where, oh where, to begin?
What he said! pic.twitter.com/16cBTiOnl7
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) October 5, 2021
1 YEAR AGO TODAY: In a bizarre rant, Joe Biden asked parents to “make sure you have the record player on at night” for their children. pic.twitter.com/XEKlPtoz9e
— Trump War Room (@TrumpWarRoom) September 12, 2020
This doesn’t mean Biden is a compulsive liar, of course.
However, I’ll say this much for Mark Bowden’s description of Biden’s “tendency to stretch”: Unless we want to conclude that he’s a yoga master, we have to concede that something a bit more troublesome is going on.