April 10, 2009

Apparently Karl Rove was so close to George W. Bush that he heard every word every spoken to him during his tenure as president.

On Fox News last night, he called Vice President Joe Biden a liar for telling people he'd had a sharp retort to Bush during an Oval Office visit.

Here's what Biden has been saying:

"I remember President Bush saying to me one time in the Oval Office .... 'Well, Joe,' he said, 'I'm a leader.' And I said: 'Mr. President, turn and around look behind you. No one is following.'"

Rove's retort last night on Fox News with Megyn Kelly:

Rove: It didn't happen. Look, Joe Biden does this. I remember this a couple of years ago when he made a similar claim. Joe Biden said, for example, that he spent hours with the president. Joe Biden was never alone with the president for more than a few moments. There were staff in the room at all times. He never said these kinds of things.

I hate to say it, but he's a serial exaggerator. If I was being unkind I would say he's a liar. But it is a habit he ought to drop.

You'll notice every one of these incidents has the same structure: Joe Biden courageously raises the impudent question, the president befuddledly answers, and Joe Biden drives home the dramatic response. I mean, it's just -- it's his imagination. He ought to get out of it and get back to reality. He's making this up out of whole cloth.

Rove added:

With all due respect to the vice president: These are the kinds of things you can get away with if you are a U.S. Senator or a backbencher in the House of Representatives. You should not exaggerate and lie like this when you are the Vice President of the United States.

Biden's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, although Biden spokesman Jay Carney told Fox on Wednesday: "The vice president stands by his remarks."

Rove paints Biden as trying to portray himself as a close confidante of the president, but that's not what he suggests in the clips I've seen. Rove also refers to Biden as a "blowhard" when he did come to the Oval Office. It seems far more likely that Bush and Co. simply ignored him.

In any event, Rove goes on to say:

Look, this is a guy whose 1988 presidential campaign was derailed because he was found to have been copying, plagiarizing a speech by Neil Kinnock, the leader of the British Labor Party, and recounting an episode in Kinnock's life as if it were in his own life, involving I think a coal miner relative or something.

This is a lie -- or at least a grotesque enough distortion of what happened to count as one.

In reality, what happened was that Biden had a stump speech that adapted lines written Kinnock for his own use -- and which specifically acknowledged Kinnock as the source on numerous occasions. In one stump speech in Iowa, he left out the credit -- and was accused of plagiarism by his political rivals.

Kinnock's speech:

Why am I the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? [Then pointing to his wife in the audience] Why is Glenys the first woman in her family in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? Was it because all our predecessors were thick?

Biden's speech included the lines:

I started thinking as I was coming over here, why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go to a university? [Then pointing to his wife in the audience] Why is it that my wife who is sitting out there in the audience is the first in her family to ever go to college? Is it because our fathers and mothers were not bright? Is it because I'm the first Biden in a thousand generations to get a college and a graduate degree that I was smarter than the rest?

As the Wikipedia entry notes: "After Biden withdrew from the race, it was indeed learned that he had correctly credited Kinnock on other occasions."

In other words, Biden was largely cleared of the accusation that Rove wants you to think remains a true story of "Biden plagiarism".

Now, who's the liar here?

Can you help us out?

For nearly 20 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.