Self-deprecatory humor is an exacting art. The timing of the joke has to be flawless, and above all else it needs to be obvious to your audience that you are joking. Ronald Reagan, who had had a career as an actor prior to entering politics, was a master at the form. When he was running for a second term in 1984, he famously deflected concerns about his age by quipping during a debate with Democratic nominee Walter Mondale, “I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” Reagan was 73 at the time.
Joe Biden, who turned 78 within days of winning the 2020 election, is no Ronald Reagan. He proved this last Thursday at his first press conference, he began an answer to a question about his current stance on the filibuster with this knee slapper.”
Biden got elected into the Senate 120 years ago. pic.twitter.com/ThoKYg64GL
— Mark Kennedy (@RealMarkKennedy) March 25, 2021
The line sailed over the heads of everyone in the room, partly because it was delivered in a such a deadpan manner. But the “joke” also fell flat because, as the Los Angeles Times concedes, he was “all over the map” on Thursday with regard to the topic:
If you were looking for clarity about President Biden’s position on the Senate filibuster — liberal Democrats’ No. 1 Enemy at the moment — you didn’t get it at Thursday’s news conference, Biden’s first as president.
As for Biden’s joke, the Times writer goes on, “Twitter lit up with Republicans pouncing on what they thought was a gaffe.” Who can blame them?
Who for that matter can say with any certainty that he was joking? Was he joking when he called Chris Wallace “Chuck” during an interview in early 2020? Or when he told a gathering of prospective voters that he’s “a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate” and that they should “vote for the other Biden” if they don’t like him. Or when he announced to a Wilmington TV host later the same year that he was “going to beat Joe Biden”:
WATCH: Joe Biden gets confused, says "I'm going to beat Joe Biden." pic.twitter.com/uu23tbMt9Q
— Trump War Room (@TrumpWarRoom) May 22, 2020
There are hundreds of other examples of Biden’s verbal missteps, all of which appear to be manifestations of age-related dementia. The last thing in the world he should be making light of is his age.