During a speech Tuesday at the National Association of Counties Legislative Conference in Washington, President Joe Biden attempted to relate to local politicians. The result was a confusing anecdote about a dead dog on a woman’s doorstep.
Biden was discussing his time serving on the New Castle County Council in Delaware. Speaking to the crowd of county politicians at the Washington Hilton, he said he knew “from personal experience how hard the job you have is.”
The president said the district he represented was “a middle-class district to a working-class district” but had “one very wealthy neighborhood.”
“And I got a call one night. The woman said to me — obviously not of the same persuasion as I was, politically — called me and said, ‘There’s a dead dog on my lawn,’” Biden said.
“And I said, ‘Yes, ma’am.’ I said, ‘Have you called county?’ She said, ‘Yes, they’re not here.’ And I said, ‘Well, I’ll get them in the morning.’”
He said the woman persisted and said she wanted the dog removed immediately because, as she allegedly put it, “I pay your salary.”
“So I went over. I picked it up,” Biden said. “She said, ‘I want it out of my front yard.’ I put it on her doorstep.”
From all available evidence, Biden appeared to be telling the story as a joke. The crowd laughed throughout his delivery, and he had a smile throughout his telling.
However, there are two basic problems with that.
First, Biden didn’t make it clear that the story was a joke rather than an anecdote. He went straight from talking about his time as a councilman to telling this tale.
After he finished, he told the crowd he had “gotten much better since then” before assuring them he understood their plight.
It seems logical to assume Biden’s story was a metaphor to represent the difficulties council members go through and add levity to the situation. At the same time, he never ruled out the possibility that he actually dropped a dead dog on a Republican woman’s doorstep in his younger days.
Second, even if the story was a joke, it was almost more disturbing than funny. While Biden set it up and delivered it fairly well and the joke was somewhat humorous, it was hard to notice after he put the image of a dead dog into everyone’s heads.
To be fair, some Twitter users did give the president props for being able to make it to the punchline without stumbling into mindless babbling.
Confusing as this story was, Biden was at least able to string his thoughts together into a basic point. After his many gaffes, it’s important to recognize the small victories.