Biden’s family vacation to Ireland

Let’s get this out of the way right away – Joe Biden’s trip to Ireland is a family vacation. Joe brought along Hunter and his sister Valerie. They landed in Belfast Tuesday night and Wednesday morning Joe had coffee with British prime minister Rishi Sunak. Next, he gave a speech to mark twenty-five years since the Good Friday Agreement. Then he skedaddled out of Northern Ireland and into the Republic. He’s spending the rest of the week there.

The speech in Belfast was heavy on the standard yimmer-yammer. He said that children are the future and talked about peace and leaving a better world for the next generation. He was careful to not stir up any controversies and as far as I know, there were no moments of confusion as to where to go in the venue.

In Belfast, Biden asked the audience, “You know who designed the White House? An Irishman! No, not a joke.” Unfortunately, before that line, he got mixed up and said the Oval Office is in the Capitol Building. Oh well. I’m old enough to remember when Michelle Obama told us that slaves built the White House. Is there a fact-checker in the room?

Biden was eager to get to Dublin and then north to Carlingford. He was met by Ireland’s deputy premier Michael Martin. Biden also met some cousins, including Rob Kearney, who played international rugby for Ireland. Biden was behind schedule by the time he arrived. Plans to visit the family cemetery had to be scrapped.

The total number of days spent in Ireland is a long time for old Joe, who normally doesn’t travel past Delaware. This trip is to build on his family history and how it connects to America.

For the rest of the week, Biden will search for traces of his Finnegan and Kearney ancestors. His Biden ancestry is from England. On Friday night he will visit St. Muredach’s Cathedral in County Mayo.

During a tour of Carlingford Castle Biden told reporters, ‘It feels wonderful. Feels like I’m coming home.’ Perhaps Joe thinks he lives in a castle now. Don’t be fooled into thinking that Joe is answering questions from the press on this trip. He’s not. His press secretary announced that he would not be taking questions from reporters on the trip and would not be holding a joint press conference with any Irish officials, as is customary when an American president is overseas. Typically, the American president takes two questions and the foreign leader takes two.

Hunter was playing Biden’s minder and coached Joe on answering questions from children during one stop. Where’s Jill? Isn’t that her job?

Why is Hunter on this trip? When asked about bringing Jill or any family on the trip, as he left the White House, he said he was bringing two family members who have not been to Ireland before this trip. He didn’t say who they were, though. Why so secretive, Joe? Where’s all that transparency? Is Hunter up to his old ways of accompanying Joe overseas and coming home with some lucrative deals? What about The Big Guy’s cut of those deals? Hunter was at the White House Easter Egg Roll with his wife and their young son. He didn’t bring them to Ireland. Do they all live in the White House now?

Biden tends to repeat stories and one favorite is the one where he talks about all the hours he has spent with Xi Jinping. He did it again during a stop in a pub with Hunter and Valerie.

While much of his message was designed to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Belfast Agreement that ended decades of violence in Ireland, he still managed to throw in his familiar story about the Chinese leader, slightly adapted for a new audience.

‘I spent more time with him than any world leader has over the last 10 years … and I was in the Tibetan plateau with him and traveled 17, 000 miles in China over 10 years,’ said Biden.

‘And he asked me to define America… and I can say the same of Ireland.

‘I can. Yes, I can in one word: possibilities. Anything is possible if we set our mind to it.

‘That’s who we are.’

A Washington Post fact check of Biden’s claims of traveling 17,000 miles with Xi in China received Three Pinocchios. Shocker, I know.

Joe’s schedule is very light on this family vacation. On Thursday he will deliver a speech to the Irish parliament, plant a tree, and ring a peace bell.

Remember this is a trip that was referenced as a reason that Joe can’t possibly go to the coronation of King Charles next month. The White House said he gets too tired to travel overseas very much. Vacations wear him out, I guess.