For the second time in a month, President Joe Biden attempted to compare a minor house fire to the devastation in Maui. While discussing the recovery efforts on the Hawaiian island as Florida was bracing for Hurricane Idalia, Biden told how his family was forced out of their Delaware home for more than half a year following a house fire.
“I didn’t have anything like that, but lightning struck my house. We had to be out of that house for about seven months while it was repaired, because so much damage was done to the house. Half the house almost collapsed.”
Critics of the president once again blasted him for the false equivalency, and for exaggerating the damage suffered while seeming to downplay the suffering endured by the residents who lost everything they may have owned in the recent wildfires in Maui.
Liar, Liar, House on Fire?
It was just weeks ago that Biden said during his brief visit to Hawaii, “I don’t want to compare difficulties, but we have a little sense, Jill and I, what it’s like to lose a home. Years ago — now 15 years ago — I was in Washington doing ‘Meet the Press.’ It was a sunny Sunday, and lightning struck at home on a little lake that’s outside of our home — not a lake, a big pond — and hit a wire and came up underneath our home into the heating ducts — the air conditioning ducts.”
The president then added, “To make a long story short, I almost lost my wife, my ’67 Corvette, and my cat. But all kidding aside, I watched the firefighters, the way they responded.”
During his five-hour tour of Hawaii, Biden gave a speech at a charred yet sacred Banyan tree – and he switched into true “Biden mode,” where he attempted to make a connection by sharing a moment from his past that seemed (like so many others) too good to be true for the situation.
Elias Atienza of the fact-checking website CheckYourFact addressed Biden’s claims, labeled them “misleading,” and offered the verdict that “The fire was insignificant, contained to the kitchen and under control within 20 minutes, according to the local fire department and reporting at the time.”
Atienza also added, “This is not the first time Biden has told this story. He told it in October 2022 in front of Floridians who were victims of Hurricane Ian, according to The New York Times. He has also told the story in 2021, Fox News reported.”
Joe Biden Loves His Stories
As previously reported, Biden apparently likes to be a storyteller, perhaps believing that he sees himself as a wise sage sharing his personal tales to connect with an audience – only to come off like Grandpa Simpson with ramblings that are almost entirely nonsensical.
The truly strange part is that Biden literally wrote the words, “The truth matters” in an op-ed defending the free press earlier this year. It would appear that the truth matters, except when it gets in the way of a good story.
The problem has become so great that The Washington Post even addressed it directly on Thursday.
“President Biden, like many politicians, likes to tell stories — stories that attempt to connect his life story with his audiences and make up an essential part of his persona,” wrote The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler.
As the paper of record’s fact checker, Kessler knows better than most how far from the truth Biden’s stories veer, and he noted, “Biden’s propensity to exaggerate or embellish tales about his life led to doubts about his truthfulness. Contemporary news reports on the house fire do not match his telling of it, fanning criticism that he had lied to a vulnerable audience.”
The house fire – as The Washington Post reported – is just one of several Biden tall tales that keep getting repeated. These have become akin to folk stories that have just a grain of truth.
That might not be a problem, but in the case of the house fire story, Biden is trying to connect with an audience for political gain while people are suffering. Those in Maui and now in Florida have seen their houses destroyed, whereas Biden had to basically remodel a kitchen.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.
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