Fresh off the heels of his first State of the Union address on Tuesday evening — which, despite many cynical predictions, he managed to pull off without falling asleep or wandering aimlessly away from the podium halfway through — President Joe Biden gave some remarks on his administration’s energy initiatives during a trip to Wisconsin on Wednesday.
Speaking to a “small but lively crowd” at the University of Wisconsin, Superior, as per the Star Tribune, Biden touted the $1 trillion infrastructure bill signed last year, a topic of the previous night’s SOTU address as well.
“I am truly more optimistic about America today than I’ve ever been,” he declared while pointing to things such as job creation, the use of American steel and more funding for roads and bridges that he generally implied Wisconsinites would be the beneficiaries of thanks to the sweeping legislative package.
The president went on to say these words: “Union Pacific Railroad just announced the purchase of the largest-ever purchase of electric locomotives made in Erie, Pennsylvania. And in the same plant, by the way, that the guy who turned on our lights built a factory.”
The repetition of “purchase” might be the least confusing thing about that comment.
The biggest question is, who is “the guy who turned on our lights”?
Many observers assumed he was talking about Thomas Edison.
Did Biden just forget Thomas Edison’s name? pic.twitter.com/6AgJvQwp7q
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) March 2, 2022
There are a few problems with that, however.
Edison never built a factory in Erie, Pennsylvania. The prolific inventor was born in Erie County, Ohio — perhaps that is what Biden was thinking about?
Or perhaps not.
According to a Jan. 28 news release from Union Pacific, its electric locomotives are being acquired from Progress Rail — which said in its own news release that they will be manufactured not in the city of Erie or in Erie County but in Muncie, Indiana.
Another layer of fog comes from the fact that Biden said in 2020 that “a black man invented the light bulb, not a white guy named Edison.”
He apparently was referring then to Lewis Latimer, who worked with Edison — but there are no apparent ties between Latimer and Erie, either.
On Lewis Latimer, the guy Biden’s talking about: https://t.co/8BdmZpeIkT
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) September 3, 2020
Was Biden just all tuckered out from the big speech last night?
The disastrous gaffe brings back to mind the time that, as a new president, Biden completely forgot not only what the Pentagon was called but both the name of the secretary of defense and the name of the Cabinet position itself, all at once, in a row, and resorted to referring to the aforementioned as, and I quote, “the guy who runs that outfit over there.”
The defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, whom he nominated to head up the Pentagon.
In the present day.
“The guy who runs that outfit over there.”
As you might be well aware, Biden has a penchant for such public gaffes, which has consistently increased concerns that he might be not only pretty terrible at delivering public comments but mentally unfit for office altogether.
Is there something wrong with Joe Biden?
After all, it was just the night before the president talked about “the guy who turned on our lights” that he mixed up “Ukrainians” with “Iranians” even though Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been by far the most pressing issue he’s had to deal with for about a month and it was the leading topic of his speech.
It was so bad, in fact, that Vice President Kamala Harris could be seen irritably correcting Biden under her breath as the rest of the chamber dutifully applauded Biden’s comments all the same.
The president’s gaffes are bad; they’re all the worse now that he’s supposed to be leading the free world during a time when Russia appears determined to provoke said free world into an unprecedented global power struggle.
Is it any wonder Putin waited until this guy was in office to invade Ukraine?