Joe Biden Speaks Out on Tornadoes: 'They Don't Call Them That Anymore'


I know President Joe Biden isn’t in the business of taking advice from Republicans, but I’m sure no one on his team would be too upset if he began taking a page from the playbook of the 30th president of the United States, Calvin “Silent Cal” Coolidge.

Coolidge was, as legend has it, once seated next to acerbic literary flibbertigibbet Dorothy Parker at a dinner party. Parker, according to newsreel service British Pathé, once said she “made a bet against a fellow who said it was impossible to get more than two words out of you.”

“You lose,” Coolidge is said to have responded.

Coolidge denied the story, according to a 1924 New York Times article, calling it “one of those rumors now current in Washington which is without any foundation.” It does appear far more likely, however, that Parker really did make the famous quip attributed to her upon being informed of Coolidge’s death in 1933: “How can they tell?”

Whatever the case, Coolidge wasn’t wordy or animated. His mouth didn’t constantly need to be moving for him to effectively run these United States.

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He wasn’t the kind of man, say, who would keep talking until he said something which made someone question whether our president thought tornadoes were still called tornadoes.

Joe Biden, on the other hand, doesn’t give us that benefit of the doubt.

Our 46th president visited the New York City area on Tuesday to assess the damage from Hurricane Ida, which swept across the region last week.

According to New York Magazine, at least 45 were killed in New York and New Jersey, with 52 dying across the Northeast. NBC News reported 67 hurricane-related deaths in total.

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The visit to the New York City area was as much a campaign event as a president touring a disaster area. Biden used the hurricane to tout both his climate change agenda and his “Build Back Better” infrastructure plan during news conferences in New York City and New Jersey.

The unseemliness of this was counteracted by yet another battery of gaffes — including one where Biden didn’t seem to know if they still called it a tornado anymore and thought Nevada was in the middle of the country (and hit by tornadoes).

Speaking about extreme weather, Biden told reporters that “it’s all across the country. The members of Congress know from their colleagues in Congress that looks like a tornado — they don’t call them that anymore — that hit the crops and wetlands in the middle of the country in Iowa and Nevada.

“I mean, it’s just across the board … As I said, we’re in this together,” he added.

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Yes, no more tornadoes and Nevada as a state in the middle of the country. Sounds about right for our president.

As with a lot of these Uncle Joe-isms, there’s kind of an explanation for this — but it still doesn’t make Biden look good.

As managing editor Spencer Brown noted, the town of Nevada, Iowa, was hit by a derecho in 2020. According to KCCI-TV, the storm damaged 10 million acres of farmland.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration noted that unlike a tornado — caused by a spinning cell of thunderstorms — a derecho is caused by a line of thunderstorms that moves straight ahead.

Even still, as Fox News’ Janice Dean noted, this doesn’t come across well.

Whatever the case, this went over predictably on social media.

There’s another reason why Biden doesn’t get a pass on this one: In addition to his history of gaffes, his speech in New York City later produced two other doozies.

In one, Biden said we needed to “by 2020, make sure all our electricity is zero emissions.”

In another, he said that the area had to “build better so if the storm occurred again, there would be no damage. There would be. But that’s not gonna stop us though, because if we just do that, it’s just gonna get worse and worse and worse.”

So no, given his history on Tuesday, he doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt. And even if you were inclined to be generous to the president, the derecho isn’t the new tornado. It’s not like a new, politically correct name for the tornado — kind of like how “undocumented immigrant” supplanted “illegal alien.” The storm that picked Dorothy up and brought her to Oz is still alive and well, no matter what our president thinks.

Of course, if he’d simply said a tornado had hit Nevada, Iowa, we wouldn’t have heard anything about this, even though it was a derecho. In fact, he didn’t even have to mention it at all. Brief remarks and short answers could have gotten the point across just as effectively.

He could have learned a lot from Silent Cal. Instead, we’re left wondering what Dorothy Parker would have thought about a president who doesn’t know if they still call them tornadoes.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture