In Thursday night’s vice presidential debate between Senator Joe Biden and Governor Sarah Palin, Biden said the strangest and most ill-informed thing I have ever heard about Lebanon in my life. “When we kicked — along with France, we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, I said and Barack said, “Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don’t know — if you don’t, Hezbollah will control it.” Now what’s happened? Hezbollah is a legitimate part of the government in the country immediately to the north of Israel.” [Emphasis added.]
What on Earth is he talking about? The United States and France may have kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon in an alternate universe, but nothing even remotely like that ever happened in this one.
Nobody – nobody – has ever kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon. Not the United States. Not France. Not Israel. And not the Lebanese. Nobody.
Joe Biden has literally no idea what he’s talking about.
It’s too bad debate moderator Gwen Ifill didn’t catch him and ask a follow up question: When did the United States and France kick Hezbollah out of Lebanon?
The answer? Never. And did Biden and Senator Barack Obama really say NATO troops should be sent into Lebanon? When did they say that? Why would they say that? They certainly didn’t say it because NATO needed to prevent Hezbollah from returning–since Hezbollah never went anywhere.
I tried to chalk this one up as just the latest of Biden’s colorful gaffes. Did he mean to say “we kicked Syria out of Lebanon?” But that wouldn’t make any more sense. First of all, the Lebanese kicked Syria out of Lebanon. Not the United States, and not France. But he clearly meant to say Hezbollah, not Syria, because he correctly notes just a few sentences later that Hezbollah is part of Lebanon’s government. He wasn’t talking about Syria. He was talking about Hezbollah all the way through, at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of his outlandish assertion.
Like many who watched the debate, I was bracing myself for Palin to say something off-putting about foreign policy. She’s the one who needed the crash course, allegedly; Biden is supposedly Mr. Foreign Policy. He’s supposed to be the experienced elder statesman Senator Barack Obama chose to help him govern and fill in some of his knowledge and experience gaps. He’s supposed to know far more about foreign policy than she does.
I wasn’t exactly encouraged by Palin’s answer to one of Katie Couric’s foreign policy questions: “What happens if the goal of democracy doesn’t produce the desired outcome?” Couric used Hamas’ victory in the West Bank and Gaza as an example. Palin either dodged the question or did not understand it.
Biden, though, against all expectations and odds, managed to say something far more bizarre and off-planet than anything Palin has said on the topic to date.