Biden trails off, skips and adds details in anecdote about diagnosis and surgery for brain aneurysms

March 8, 2023
Ben Marquis

Long known for his history of verbal gaffes and blunders, the increasing frequency of which has prompted legitimate concern for his mental health, President Joe Biden may have explained his propensity for gaffes while simultaneously uttering one.

While sharing an anecdote about the brain aneurysms he previously suffered, Biden trailed off and skipped the part of the story about what doctors had diagnosed him with, the Western Journal reported.

Then, as is typical, the president made a self-deprecating joke and continued on with his remarks as if nothing had happened.

Biden loses track of his story

On Monday, President Biden delivered a speech at a Washington D.C. hotel where the annual legislative conference of the International Association of Firefighters was being held.

It wasn't long before Biden, as he often tends to do, began to share his folksy anecdotes about growing up in Delaware and how he had always appreciated and respected what firefighters do, and how they had personally impacted his life for the better on several occasions.

"And I’m not going to go through it all, but you literally -- my fire company at home saved my life," Biden said. "I came back from a trip, after being away for a couple of days, and -- I had these terrible headaches. I was diagnosed with having a ... well, anyway, they had to take the top of my head off a couple times, see if I had a brain."

The president went on to note that he'd had a "cranial aneurysm" and needed to get from his home in Delaware to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center near Washington D.C. for critical surgery but was prevented from flying due to a snowstorm. However, he credited his local fire company with saving his life by driving him down to D.C. in the middle of the storm for a "nine-hour operation."

Biden's 1988 brain aneurysms

What President Biden was referring to in that story, according to a 2019 report from the Delaware News Journal and excerpts from his 2007 autobiography, were the two nearly fatal brain aneurysms he suffered in February 1988 that occurred just after he'd dropped out of the presidential race due to accusations of plagiarism and the "contentious" Senate Judiciary Committee hearings the then-senator had just concluded in which he maliciously smeared judicial nominee Robert Bork.

After finishing a speech he delivered at the University of Rochester in New York, Biden returned to his hotel room and experienced "lightning flashing inside my head, a powerful electrical surge -- and then a rip of pain like I'd never felt before," and then fell unconscious for several hours.

Upon returning to Delaware, doctors in Wilmington performed a spinal tap and CT scan, discovered an aneurysm at the base of his brain, and concluded that Biden needed surgery in order to survive.

The senator then underwent two "microsurgical craniotomy" surgeries at Walter Reed, in February and May of 1988, and eventually returned to Congress in August of that year after he was deemed to have sufficiently rested and recovered.

Perhaps this helps explain things

Notably enough, that 2019 report that cited Biden's 2007 book made no mention of any snowstorms or local firefighters driving him to Walter Reed as part of his brain aneurysm saga, leaving us to wonder if Biden misremembered the 1988 incident or, perhaps, added in that previously unmentioned detail in light of the audience for his remarks.

Regardless, the viral clip of the president trailing off amid his recollection of brain surgery earned plenty of mockery on social media, per the Western Journal, and may, in fact, help explain why he is the way that he is.

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