President Biden's recent anecdote has raised eyebrows across the political spectrum.
During a recent speech, President Biden recounted a dubious tale involving a brain aneurysm and a grounded Air Force helicopter allegedly offered by Ronald Reagan.
On December 11, President Biden delivered a narrative of a personal health crisis in 1988. He described an incident where he suffered a brain aneurysm and mentioned an offer from then-President Reagan to use Air Force transport, which Biden claims was unable to fly due to inclement weather. This tale came as he spoke to an audience in Philadelphia, recognizing their fire department for a new grant.
It is well-documented that Biden underwent two critical surgeries to address aneurysms on each side of his brain in 1988. At the time, Biden served as a U.S. Senator, and the medical emergency was a significant event in his life. Records indicate that the transport from Wilmington to Walter Reed Hospital was by ambulance, provided by his local fire department.
However, neither the account in Biden's 2007 autobiography nor Reagan's archived presidential diary corroborates the recent claim by Biden about the transport offer.
Reagan's notes from that day confirm that Marine One was grounded due to bad weather, but no mention is made of an offer to transport Biden.
Biden's retelling of events that day seems to have shifted over time. In earlier accounts, including his autobiography, there is no mention of Reagan's involvement or an offer involving Air Force transportation.
Instead, the focus was on the swift actions of his local fire department who managed to transport him through a snowstorm to the hospital.
President Biden expressed his profound gratitude towards the firefighters during his speech. He stated:
"I — I would not be here were it not for my local fire company in Wilmington, Delaware. They saved my life. I had a cranial aneurysm. I wasn’t — it was the middle of a snowstorm. Not a joke."
Biden's praise for the firefighters was a focal point of his speech. He credited them with saving his life during the medical emergency, and this sentiment has been consistent in his various accounts over the years. The firefighters' role on that snowy day in 1988 has remained undisputed.
The President recounted the urgency of the situation and the efforts made by the fire department to ensure he received the necessary medical attention. His retelling of this moment was detailed and vivid, painting a picture of the dire circumstances amid a snowstorm.
In his speech, Biden also shared another anecdote, an embellished version of a minor kitchen fire at his Delaware home. Much like the one about his aneurysm, this story was intended to highlight the bravery and importance of firefighters. The President's focus on their role and his personal connection with them was evident throughout his address.
While the story about Reagan's offer seems to be a new addition to Biden's recounting of the events, the sentiment of appreciation for his local fire company has been a longstanding theme in his speeches and writings.
Despite the heartfelt nature of Biden's anecdotes, questions about the historical accuracy of his recent claims have emerged.
The discrepancy between Biden's past and present accounts of the 1988 event has prompted a re-examination of the facts by historians and journalists. As such, scrutiny has intensified over the President's recollection of the offer from Reagan.
With both Biden's autobiography and Reagan's diary silent on the matter, the veracity of the President's claim is under doubt. The lack of evidence to support the story has led to a broader conversation about memory and storytelling in the context of public figures.