Only Joe Biden Could Oversell the Bin Laden Raid

The latest relapse of foot-in-mouth disease, a chronic condition he's suffered for years, came at a New Jersey fundraiser.

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Reuters

Joe Biden is back on the fundraising trail just in time for election 2012. And he hasn't lost his uncanny ability to summon rhetoric so disadvantageous to his purposes that it's beyond parody.

On Monday night, his subject was the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Remarkably, he managed to oversell and undersell it at the same time:
 

You can go back 500 years. You cannot find a more audacious plan. Never knowing for certain. We never had more than a 48 percent probability that he was there. Do any one of you have a doubt that if that raid failed that this guy would be a one-term president? This guy is willing to do the right thing and risk losing.

On one hand you've got Biden declaring the bin Laden raid more audacious than the D-Day landing, to pick just one example. And at the same time, he's saying that Obama ordered a secret incursion into an unstable, nuclear-armed country, with all the potential risks and costs it entailed, even though the available odds suggested that the mission was more likely than not to fail. Either he's got his facts wrong, which is itself discrediting, or he's made two statements that make me trust the judgment of the Obama/Biden team less than I did when he started talking.

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Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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