Biden’s Evolving Obama Explanation

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


Below, Jonathan has a good summary of the Biden flap from yesterday. (And he’s probably buying up Biden ’08 t-shirts on eBay to resell to ironic hipsters at this very moment.) Granted, Joe Biden inserting foot in mouth is hardly news but what struck me as fishy was his evolving explanation of what he meant. On CNN yesterday afternoon he said that his mother had a saying, “clean as a whistle, sharp as a tack,” and that using that context, he meant that Obama was astute. But last night on The Daily Show, he said that he meant to say “fresh” (as in fresh ideas) rather than “clean.” So which is it, fresh or sharp? If calling Obama “clean” was not a slur, wouldn’t his explanation have remained constant? No doubt he had the benefit of several advisers in the meantime, but the changing story seems to signal that Biden is rightly ashamed of his original impulse and is casting around for a better explanation.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.