The Campaign Spot

Joe Biden Urges Americans Off Subways, Planes

When I saw the first comments on my Twitter feed (jimgeraghty), I figured it had to be a joke or a misquote. But no, Vice President Joe Biden just went way, way, way off the reservation on how the citizenry should respond to swine flu:

“I would tell members of my family, and I have, I wouldn’t go anywhere in confined places now. It’s not that it’s going to Mexico, it’s you’re in a confined aircraft when one person sneezes it goes all the way through the aircraft. That’s me. I would not be, at this point, if they had another way of transportation suggesting they ride the subway.”

The vice president also implied that schools should be closed as the threat of swine flu increases.

“If you’re out in the middle of a field and someone sneezes that’s one thing. If you’re in a closed aircraft or a closed container or closed car or closed classroom it’s a different thing.” 

After the interview, co-host Meredith Vieira and NBC’s Chuck Todd discussed Biden’s statement, wondering if the vice president really had intended to caution the American public to stay off public transportation and airplanes. They noted his comments seemed to contradict public statements by other high-ranked White House officials.

We can laugh as we watch the White House scramble to undo his statements; apparently someone in the veep’s office is trying to persuade ABC News’s Jake Tapper that Biden didn’t actually say the words quoted above. When Biden was picked as Obama’s running mate, a lot of us predicted this day would come — the day Biden’s mouth would get the Obama administration in trouble in a non-eye-rolling way. Someday Biden’s going to blurt something out and start an international incident.

But remember, Sarah Palin was dangerously unqualified to be vice president, or at least that’s what our media elites told us.

UPDATE: A reader argues that Biden ought to get a bit more credit:

I am an AVID reader of your column; I read it daily. I agree with you on most points of discussion. However, yes there is a however, I don’t agree with critizing Biden’s position on the Swine Flu.


Although, Biden’s advise contradicts the Obama administration’s talikng points, they make a lot of sense.


Obama and his sunshine band did not have the political courage that it would have been required to seal (lol) our borders with Mexico. Although, our southern border is more porous than a sieve, all air, land, and sea ports with Mexico should have been immediately closed. politically, this would have been suicidal for the Obambi crowd; however, it was highly irresponsible for them not to do so.


If Mexico’s economy suffers further because if the Swine Flu, that should not be our primary concern. Our primary concern should have been the protection of the Homeland (yeah, I can hear you smirking muscles move), the qualifications or lack their of, of Janet Napolitano, not withstanding.


More school districts should take the steps needed in order to let the Swine Flu run it’s course even it it means stretching the school year into the summer in order to make-up for the lost time.


My two cents worth.

I actually don’t smirk; while I’m not sure that closing the border is necessary yet, I would prefer to hear from my government that they’re willing to do it if necessary. The argument that “the horse has already left the barn” doesn’t carry that much weight, as Mexico currently has many more cases than the United State. If the situation gets significantly worse, a border closing wouldn’t stop the swine flu from coming here, but it might stop more folks carrying it from coming here. It’s the basic concept of a quarantine, which has been used for about as long as humanity has been fighting diseases.