Joe Biden is on a six-day swing through Latin America, with stops in Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Brazil. And judging by his visit to Colombia, the vice president is in fine form, dispensing his trademark head-scratchers and hyperbolic praise.
Coming amid news that Colombian negotiators in Havana had reached a preliminary land-reform agreement with the FARC rebel group, Biden’s stop in Colombia turned into something of a love-fest with President Juan Manuel Santos, whom Biden praised for his stewardship of the peace process, ongoing efforts to end the country’s half-decade-long civil war, and work to deepen economic ties between Colombia and the United States.
But Biden also found time to inform one Colombian woman that she was a pretty mother, and to tell the press that he needed to get his wife Jill some flowers (the two comments appear to be unrelated). Here’s how the Colombia trip has played out so far — in Bidenisms:
Yamile Cárdenas, 26, a single mother of three working at a flower farm Biden visited, described her conversation with America’s Don Juan-in-chief as follows, according to a press pool report:
"It was very exciting and he was very nice. He asked about my kids and he said I was a very pretty mom."
And here’s Biden on why he visited the flower farm:
And personally I want to make clear to the press, I’m going to the flower farm, and I’m mainly going to get my wife some flowers. I just wanted to make it clear because in my household if I go anywhere near a flower shop, let alone flower farm and don’t come home fully armed with flowers, I will have a very unhappy trip to Colombia.
Biden, speaking with President Santos, also referenced his thwarted career ambitions:
And it’s great in particular to see you again, my friend. You pointed out — as the President pointed out, last time I was — I think we were in Cartagena if I’m not mistaken. When Plan Colombia was announced, you were finance minister and I was a United States senator. Now you’re President and I’m Vice President. It’s obvious who did well.
And compared this moment in Latin American history to … something:
And, folks, the one thing the President and I agree on is that the promise not only for our relationships but for the hemisphere are close to limitless. They’re close to limitless, and we genuinely believe that if we work together, we can provide what we hope will be the case that — when the Berlin Wall went down in Europe, we started to talk about a Europe whole and free, which has never occurred. And now it’s on the verge of being fully realized. The President and I believe that our children will look to a hemisphere that is middle class, democratic and secure for the first time in the hemisphere’s history. And with the leadership of men like President Santos I am confident that our children’s future is in very, very good hands.
In Santos, Biden has apparently found another leader equally bad at golf:
So again, thank you, Mr. President. And we were commiserating how we used to each have a relatively good golf game before we got the respective positions we’re in. So since we’re both playing very badly, let’s play together.
Never change, Joe.
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at email@example.com.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.| The Cable |