Could President Joe Biden, so closely associated with the state of Delaware, instead have started his political career in Idaho? Sure, if you ask Joe Biden about it.
On Monday, the president visited Idaho for a roundtable where he was briefed on the wildfires in the state by officials with the National Interagency Fire Center, according to Fox News. During the briefing, Biden said his “first job offer” came from Idaho-based lumber company Boise Cascade — something he said he discussed with the late Democratic Sen. Frank Church, arguably the most famous politician in the state’s history.
“I used to tell Frank Church this. I got a — my first job offer, where I wanted — my wife, deceased wife and I wanted to move to Idaho because we — not a joke — it’s such a beautiful, beautiful state,” Biden said. “And I interviewed for a job at Boise Cascade.
“And in the meantime, there was a war going on. Anyway. But the whole point was that I used to always kid Frank,” Biden added.
There’s no doubt Church was an influential senator — best remembered for leading a Senate committee that investigated abuses by the FBI and CIA back in the 1970s. But considering he’s been dead for 37 years, his relevance to 2021 is tenuous.
And that means “whole point” of this story is really that Biden has likely added another blatantly false personal anecdote to an already impressive pile of them.
According to the New York Post, a spokeswoman with Boise Cascade said the company has “no record of President Biden’s application or of him having worked for the company,” adding that “we checked our system internally and nothing has turned up.”
Joe Biden says his “first job offer” was from Idaho lumber company Boise Cascade.
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) September 13, 2021
This doesn’t necessarily prove Biden didn’t apply, I should note. Spokeswoman Lisa Tschampl told the Post that over the past 50 years, the company has dropped some aspects of its business, leading to the purging of some records.
“We had a diverse portfolio in the ’60s and early ’70s … so my guess is any records have been purged or transferred for the businesses/projects we are no longer involved in,” Tschampl said.
“I would not want to speculate about what type of role he may have applied for in 1972. Today we are a wood products manufacturer and wholesale distributor of building materials.”
However, the Post also noted that a search of the fairly exhaustive Nexis and Factiva databases didn’t turn up a single news clip where Biden had mentioned the company or the job offer before.
And then there’s Biden’s 2007 memoir, “Promises to Keep,” which also doesn’t mention any dalliance with Idaho, according to the Post. Instead, it said that during his final year in law school, Biden and his late wife Neilia “still hadn’t settled on where we were going to live, so I hadn’t accepted a job.”
His father then set up a meeting with a local judge that ended with Biden landing a job with a law firm in Delaware in 1968, shortly after he got his degree, according to the Post. (Fathers in the Biden family using connections to further their sons’ careers is apparently nothing new, though Joe Biden has taken it to a new extreme.)
Plus, there’s the most compelling piece of evidence: The fact the president’s anecdotes about himself have a history of being false. Biden’s tendency toward exaggeration and outright imagination once led The Atlantic’s Mark Bowden to charitably remark that Biden “has the limber storyteller’s tendency to stretch.”
Let’s not get into every known instance where Joe Biden got “limber,” because I’m not writing 100,000 words without a book contract and a sizable advance. Let’s just take two incidents where Biden’s memory of his own past has seemed a bit deliberately hazy.
Earlier this month, speaking with Jewish leaders before the high holidays, Biden claimed he’d visited a Pittsburgh synagogue that, in 2018, was the site of the single deadliest anti-Semitic hate crime in American history.
“And [hate has] been given too much oxygen in the last four, five, seven, 10 years, and it has seen itself, whether it was — I remember spending time at the — you know, going to the — you know, the Tree of Life synagogue, speaking with the — just — it just is amazing these things are happening, happening in America,” Biden said.
President Biden: “I remember spending time at the, you know, going to the, you know, the Tree of Life synagogue, speaking with the…”
— Carly (@intlcarly) September 3, 2021
Except the synagogue’s executive director, Barb Feige, told the New York Post that wasn’t the case: “In a phone interview, Feige, executive director since July 2019, said firmly that ‘no’ Biden didn’t visit, even before taking office when he had a lower public profile as a former vice president and then-Democratic presidential candidate.”
The White House would later clarify this, telling the Post that Biden “was referring to a call he had with the Tree of Life rabbi in 2019.” (Except Biden didn’t mention a “call.” The language made it clear he was claiming he visited.)
When Biden was campaigning in South Carolina in early 2020, he told voters he’d been arrested while trying to visit the then-incarcerated South African leader Nelson Mandela.
“This day, 30 years ago, Nelson Mandela walked out of prison and entered into discussions about apartheid,” Biden told an audience.
“I had the great honor of meeting him. I had the great honor of being arrested with our U.N. ambassador on the streets of Soweto trying to get to see him on Robbens Island.”
Biden had gotten the name of the prison where Mandela was being held wrong; it’s Robben Island. Not only that, he’d gotten the city wrong. Soweto is a township in Johannesburg, the better part of a thousand miles away from the prison, which was off the coast of Cape Town.
Biden would later admit to CNN that the story had been exaggerated — considerably.
“When I said ‘arrested,’ I meant I was not able, I was not able to move … I wasn’t arrested, I was stopped. I was not able to move where I wanted to go,” he said in an interview.
Right. So want to take a bet on that job offer? Do you think Biden’s not being a fabulist this time?
Or do you think he ends up telling CNN something like, “When I said ‘job offer,’ I meant I was able, I was able to move out there … I didn’t accept the offer, but I wasn’t able to be stopped. I was able to move where I wanted to go.”
You make the call. Given Biden’s long, well-documented history of being “limber” with the truth, it shouldn’t be a difficult one at all.
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