Yesterday, Joe Biden said:
“Mark my words…[i]t will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We’re about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don’t remember anything else I said. Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.”
Conservatives—as they often do—took this wildly out of context and ran straight off a cliff with it, claiming that Biden said Obama will somehow invite an international crisis (while on the other hand John McCain’s mere presence in the White House will guarantee that no country ever does anything even somewhat controversial. Because that’s really likely).
But Biden was just making a prediction based on history—most modern Presidents were tested by major events with serious international implications that occurred within their first year of office. Some examples:
- George W. Bush: September 11th and the invasion of Afghanistan.
- Bill Clinton: The 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the battle of Mogadishu.
- George H. W. Bush: The fall of the Berlin Wall and the invasion of Panama.
- Ronald Reagan: The end of the Iranian hostage crisis, the Beirut Marine barracks bombing and the invasion of Grenada.
- Gerald Ford: The fall of Saigon and the Mayaguez Incident.
- Richard Nixon: The Vietnam War, Operation Menu and American incursions into Cambodia.
- Lyndon Johnson: The Gulf of Tonkin incident and escalation in Vietnam.
- John Kennedy: The Bay of Pigs invasion.
- Dwight Eisenhower: The end of the Korean War and the Iranian coup.
No matter who gets elected, Obama or McCain, they are extraordinarily likely to face a major international event within the first few months of office. To say so isn’t an admission of weakness or a gaffe; it’s a prediction based on more than 50 years of American history.
But, then again, dishonestly and hyperbole are par for the course when it comes to the far right.
UPDATE: And then there’s this:
Sen. Joe Lieberman, one of John McCain’s closest confidantes, apparently disagrees. Appearing on Face the Nation back in June, Lieberman predicted that “our enemies will test the new president early.”