JOE BIDEN may be, as of later today, America’s 46th president, but that by no means – as we know from his predecessor – makes him immune from the odd nation insulting gaffe from time to time.
Over the last few days, the gaffe-prone septuagenarian has raised the ire of many Irish internet users as footage has resurfaced of him saying “I may be Irish, but I’m not stupid” at a democratic forum in 2019.
Biden, whose family hails from Louth and Derry, has in the past expressed a deep pride in his Irish heritage, and wrote following in a heartfelt letter to Emerald Isle in 2016: “I have always been and will always be the son of Kitty Finnegan”.
He went on to assure his ancestral countrymen that while “Northeast Pennsylvania will be written on my heart…Ireland will be written on my soul”.
Some around the then presidential hopeful were therefore left baffled by his remarks, which were made in response to a question at a forum on worker related issues.
An advisor to Barack Obama on Irish relations, Trina Vargo, said at the time: “Joe Biden clearly has nostalgic feelings about his Irish Ancestry, so I doubt he intended to insult Irish people, but that does not excuse such a comment.
“There remain dated and ignorant stereotypes of the Irish and it is time for Americans, including some Irish Americans, to catch up with the times and have a more sophisticated understanding of the Irish.”
In fairness, both at home and abroad the Irish are known for their self-deprecating style of humour, and so the presidential candidate may have simply missed the mark while intending to poke fun at himself in front of a diverse audience.
The questionable one-liner does appear to be a regular part of Bidens shtick, though, as he made the same joke to senator Lindsey Graham after positioning himself near to an attractive female colleague during a photo opportunity in 2015. Biden will be one of 23 previous US presidents to boast Irish heritage and has been emphatic about his excitement to visit Ireland once he assumes office.