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Biden makes failed attempt at humor over his aneurysm

By Sarah May
|
March 7, 2023

During a Monday speech to the International Association of Fire Fighters, President Joe Biden endeavored to pay tribute to the work those first responders do every single day, but in doing so, he made a bizarrely graphic reference to a medical emergency of his own with which they once helped, as the Daily Mail reports.

The odd remarks made reference to cranial aneurysm Biden suffered back in 1988, a time when firefighters rushed to his home and helped transport him to the hospital in treacherous weather conditions.

Clumsy tribute

Speaking to the assembled members of the firefighting profession, Biden lavished praise on the challenging conditions they face daily in the normal course of their work and the heroic nature of the tasks they undertake.

To underscore his point, Biden recounted some of his own personal interactions with firefighters over the years, including the aforementioned medical emergency from decades ago.

“My fire company at home saved my life,” Biden declared, referencing the assistance a local rescue crew provided by transporting him from Delaware to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in the midst of a snowstorm, so that he could have surgery to swiftly address his aneurysm.

“They had to take the top of my head off a couple times, to see if I had a brain,” the president awkwardly quipped.

Telling tall tales

From there, Biden's comments turned to a house fire that broke out at his Delaware home in 2004, a topic on which the president has held forth on more than one occasion.

“But guess what, my fire company was there to go in and save my wife, get your out, the cat and my '67 Corvette,” Biden told the audience, clearly implying that all of the above were in profound danger due to the advancing flames.

Continuing in his jocular tone, Biden added, “God made man and then he made a few firefighters, because you're all nuts.”

“You're the only ones who run into flames, everybody runs away from them,” the president continued.

Hyperbolic recollections

Biden's compelling yarns about the fire that supposedly engulfed his home have been spun in a range of public appearances, but the desired takeaway always appears to be that he and his wife narrowly escaped what was about to become a towering inferno.

In late 2021, while touting his infrastructure plan, Biden discussed the importance of keeping roads and bridges in good repair so that emergency responders can get where they need to go without delay, as Fox News noted at the time.

“Without this bridge, as I said earlier, it's a 10-mile detour just to get to the other side. And I know, having had a house burn down with my wife in it – she got out safety, God willing – that having a significant portion of it burn, I can tell: 10 minutes makes a hell of a difference,” Biden said.

Given that the Associated Press reported that not only did the house not burn down, but that the conflagration was nothing more than a “small fire that was contained to the kitchen,” even the most charitable listener would have to acknowledge the hyperbolic nature of the claim.

Embellishments revealed

Though Biden has often recalled the Delaware house fire in the most harrowing of terms, as the New York Post reported last year, members of the fire company that actually responded to the incident remember events rather differently.

In the wake of yet another speech in which Biden discussed the fire and went so far as to suggest that firefighters almost died battling the blaze, the Cranston Heights [Delaware] Fire Company indicated that the situation itself had been “insignificant,” but that was understandable for the family to have been traumatized by the experience.

“For the fire service, this could be considered an insignificant fire as it did not lead to multiple alarms and did not need a widespread response throughout the county,” the fire company explained.

Making sure not to minimize the impression the emergency left on Biden and his loved ones, the company added, “However, in the case for any homeowner, it was obviously significant at the time and was quickly responded to by the local firefighters,” who, as it was reported at the time, got the blaze under control within 20 minutes.

Just jokes

Biden's easily disproved fish story about the severity of his 2004 house fire may be chalked up to being a colorful, if perhaps misguided, attempt to honor fire fighters for the difficult, dangerous work that they do.

However, the president's jokes about his aneurysm could have the surely unintended effect of reminding the electorate of the serious health woes in his past, which some have suggested may still plague him to this day.

Dr. David Scheiner, former longtime physician to Barack Obama, told the Washington Examiner recently that it is precisely Biden's prior history that underscores the need for the type of neurocognitive exam the president has – to the frustration of many – continued to eschew.

“Biden had an aneurysm repaired. When you do work on the brain, there's always a little damage done, Scheier said,” lamenting, “[t]he one thing they don't check is a careful examination of the mind. I don't think any candidate wants it. They're afraid they might find something.”