You would think that after working in politics for more than five decades Joe Biden would learn to keep his thoughts to himself whenever he’s near a microphone. Yet the president has been caught on a hot mic, telling it like it is, on so many occasions that it’s frankly a little suspicious. Was his recent declaration that “No one fucks with a Biden” really a private joke meant only for the mayor of Fort Myers Beach, Florida? Or was it just time to feed the “Dark Brandon” meme machine? You can be the judge of that; I’m just here to rank the president’s most iconic hot-mic moments for your amusement and/or future Biden merchandising needs.
1. He called Obamacare a ‘big fucking deal’
After introducing President Obama at the signing ceremony for the Affordable Care Act in March 2010, Biden embraced his boss and whispered in his ear, and on mic, “This is a big fucking deal.” The moment went viral (1) because it was an apt description of the health-care law Democrats had fought so hard to pass, (2) because it showed genuine affection between the president and VP, and (3) because it was a more innocent time in politics, before President Trump “took swearing mainstream,” as the Washington Post put it.
The line is still very much with us today as it’s easy to abbreviate, it applies to multiple situations, it fits on various kinds of political swag, and it’s only a tad naughty, so Obama and Biden can keep joking about it in public.
2. He proclaimed, ‘No one fucks with a Biden’
While visiting Florida to survey damage from Hurricane Ian on October 5, Biden greeted Fort Myers Beach mayor Ray Murphy by shaking his hand and dropping an F-bomb within seconds. “No one fucks with a Biden,” he declared.
What the hell was Biden talking about? American news outlets couldn’t make out the rest of the conversation, and Murphy isn’t telling.
“It was not directed at anybody. It was just two guys talking,” Murphy told NBC News in a phone interview after the remarks went viral. “It didn’t faze me one bit. That’s just the way two guys talk to each other from our respective backgrounds.”
SkyNews Australia claims Biden told Murphy, “Keep the faith. And by the way, you’re raised the same way I was. No one fucks with a Biden.” That’s a weird greeting, so Dark Brandon enthusiasts are lucky that the badass bit is the only part that’s clearly audible.
3. He called a Fox News reporter a ‘stupid son of a bitch’
At the end of a January 2022 press conference, Fox News reporter Peter Doocy shouted an inane question at the president: “Will you take questions about inflation? Do you think inflation is a political liability ahead of the midterms?” He got a sarcastic answer from Biden, who muttered into the microphone, “No, that’s a great asset. More inflation. What a stupid son of a bitch.” It’s unclear whether Biden just couldn’t resist telling Doocy off or he didn’t realize the mic could pick up his grumbling.
While this incident is well known, it won’t be showing up in merch or memes. Biden undercut any “dark” readings when he called Doocy afterward to apologize.
4. He asked Kamala Harris to ‘go easy on me, kid’
Back in 2019, then-Senator Kamala Harris unexpectedly hit Biden hard over his past opposition to federal busing policy to integrate schools during the second night of the first Democratic presidential primary debate (there were so many candidates that early debates were broken into two nights). When the pair met again, mics picked up Biden quipping “Go easy on me, kid.”
Many found it condescending for the former vice-president to instruct the then-54-year-old senator to pull her punches. But others noted “kid” is a well-known Bidenism and suggested the remark shouldn’t be read as intentionally patronizing. Whatever Biden’s intention, they clearly managed to put it behind them.
5. He complained about our shouty press corps
On October 4, members of the press kept hurling questions at Biden as they were ushered out of a meeting of his task force on access to reproductive health care. Biden audibly groused, “Among the only press in the world that does this. Seriously.”
The hot-mic “rant” drew little attention on the left, but various right-wing commentators and outlets were indignant, claiming reporters were being “manhandled” and accusing him of arrogantly trampling on the First Amendment. Wait until they find out about Trump calling out reporters by name on social media and at rallies, celebrating after a politician body-slammed a reporter, and repeatedly calling the press the “enemy of the people.”
6. He let Boehner bullshit about his golf game
Obama and Biden famously disagreed on the necessity of schmoozing with members of Congress. After listening to one minute of Biden pretending to be impressed with Speaker John Boehner’s golf exploits before the 2011 State of the Union, I’m convinced that Obama was right: It’s not worth it.
7. He accidentally revealed his post–vice presidency plans
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