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Biden Misquotes Lincoln’s Famous Speech Despite Using Notecards

Source: Wikimedia Commons

President Biden made an embarrassing gaffe over the weekend when he inaccurately quoted Abraham Lincoln while speaking to the nation’s governors. Biden said he wanted to “make sure” he had the exact phrasing correct but still managed to flub the famous line.

Biden References Notecards Before Quoting Lincoln

Speaking in front of a portrait of Lincoln, Biden referenced notecards supposedly containing the quote he wanted to share. “Standing here in front of this portrait of the man behind me, I want to make sure I get this quote exactly right,” Biden said.

Source: Flickr/The White House

It was an ominous sign when a president presumably needs notecards to correctly cite one of the most iconic speeches in history. Biden peering at notes did not prevent the mistake that was about to happen.

Biden Stumbles Through Botched Lincoln Quote 

What followed from Biden was a butchered version of the famous Lincoln line about “the better angels of our nature.” Biden said, “We – the better angels, we must address the counsel – and adjust to the better angels of our nature.” The quote was so garbled it was barely recognizable.

Source: Flickr/Phil Roeder

Biden stared at notes the entire time but still fumbled the words so much for the notecards preventing any mistakes. The quote was from Lincoln’s first inaugural address, not “in the middle of the Civil War” as Biden claimed.

The Actual Lincoln Quote for Comparison

The real Lincoln quote goes as follows: “The mystic chords of memory will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” Certainly more eloquent than Biden’s fragmented attempt.

Source: X/@nypost

Biden’s botched effort did a disservice to such an iconic and meaningful quote. For a president who wanted to “make sure” he was word-perfect, it was a rough misfire that set the tone for more problems ahead.

Biden Tries Covering with Lighthearted Joke About His Age

After tripping over the famous Lincoln words, Biden attempted to cover up the blunder by making a joke about his advanced age. “Folks – and I’ve been around,” he said to the governors. “I know I don’t look it. I’ve been around a long while though.”

Source: Biography

While an endearing attempt to smooth over the flubbed quote, the humor could not mask Biden’s verbal fumble. The note cards provided no help, the age jokes no real cover – it was an unforced error all the way around.

Democrat Concerns Over Biden’s Reliance on Notecards

Biden’s shaky Lincoln quote comes amid reported concerns from Democrats about his dependence on notecards. At some fundraisers, donors have allegedly been put off by Biden clinging to written notes for policy issues he should know cold.

Source: Flickr/Obama White House Archived

The governor’s event showed precisely the weakness of relying on notecards as a crutch. Despite intimate familiarity with his notes, Biden still botched one of history’s most famous presidential quotes. It reinforced worries over Biden’s capabilities.

What Was Biden Trying to Quote from Lincoln’s Speech?

Most historians agree Biden was attempting to cite perhaps the best-known section of Lincoln’s first inaugural address in 1861. Here is the accurate quote: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. “Lincoln urged unity in the divided nation, telling both North and South: “We are not enemies, but friends.” If only Biden has gotten it right.

Source: Flickr/Thad Zajdowicz

Instead, Biden’s mangled mess of a quote fractured such hopes of camaraderie – much like the nation itself during the actual Civil War Lincoln spoke of avoiding. The contrast between the great leader’s words and Biden’s pitiful effort could not be more stark.

Lincoln Delivered Those Famed Words Before the Civil War

As part of his flubbed mess of a quote, Biden wrongly claimed Lincoln gave the speech “in the middle of the Civil War.” In reality, Lincoln said those words in his inaugural address on March 4, 1861.

Source: Flickr/Internet Archive Book Images

That speech was over a month before Confederate forces attacked Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. That attack officially commenced the start of the Civil War. Biden could not even get the basic historical timing right, showing a shaky grasp of seminal moments in American history.

Biden Confuses Lincoln’s Plea for Unity with a Divisive Blunder

Lincoln’s first inaugural address was a heartfelt plea for national unity, patriotic affection, and avoidance of enemies between countrymen. “We must not be enemies,” Lincoln urged both sides.

Source: Flickr/Leo Boudreau

Yet Biden somehow transformed this unifying message into a divisive, inaccurate blunder – the exact opposite of what Lincoln argued for. Instead of bringing Democrats and Republicans together, Biden’s gaffe drove them further apart in dismay and embarrassment.

Biden Claims He Doesn’t “Look” His Age

In an awkward attempt at face-saving humor after the flubbed quote, Biden told the gathered governors regarding his advanced age: “I know I don’t look it. I’ve been around a long while though.”

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore

Given it was the mental slip of an 81-year-old man still dependent on note cards that caused the Lincoln quote debacle, Biden drawing attention to his senior status was an ill-advised move. The age jokes shined more light on the age-related mistakes.

Democratic Hand-Wringing Over Biden Mental Miscues

Along with note cards, Biden’s advanced age has generated much angst within the Democratic party. The Lincoln gaffe has stirred more discussion over Biden possessing the alertness and capability needed to govern the country.

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Nervous Democrats likely watched the sputtering Lincoln moment wishing their elderly leader would avoid public speaking. Biden continues to commit unforced errors that raise red flags over his competence to handle the demands of the presidency. The Lincoln flub added data points to those gathering doubts.

Lincoln Faced Nation Torn Apart by Ideologies – Much Like Today

Lincoln gave his inaugural address to a nation fractured by ideological differences over slavery that eventually erupted into the Civil War. It seems eerily similar to today’s environment torn apart by toxic politics.

Source: Wikimedia/Alexander Gardner

Like the 1860s, America in 2024 faces ideological chasms tearing at national unity – not state by state but more rural versus urban citizens. Unfortunately, Biden missed a chance to echo Lincoln’s plea for bonds beyond partisanship. The blundered quote only made tensions worse.

Lincoln Handled Civil War Crises With Poise – Unlike Biden Blunders

Lincoln guided America through four long years of civil war with vision, clarity, and rhetorical poise unmatched by any other leader. His speeches inspired affection beyond constituencies in pursuit of healing national divides.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Biden could stand to learn from Lincoln’s crisis leadership example. But botching one of his most famous quotes indicates Biden lacks the mental acuity to summon Lincoln’s skills. Democrats should pine for a communicator as sharp-minded as Lincoln was handling internal discord.

Lincoln United in Strength, Biden Divides in Frailty

Abraham Lincoln met the gravest test of national leadership in holding the country together through crushing years of civil war. His bold, eloquent words defined American possibility.

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Biden’s continual mistakes while unable to repeat Lincoln’s inspiring phrases indicate a leader lacking the strength to unite people. The Lincoln gaffe spotlights Biden as a frail leader diminished in capabilities required to lead durable, robust coalitions. Lincoln set the bar – Biden keeps showing he cannot clear it.

Despite Double-Checking His Cheat Sheets, Biden Flubs the Quote

After announcing he wanted to “make sure” he quoted Lincoln word for word, Biden still butchered one of history’s great presidential lines. Not even reliance on notes could prevent Biden’s embarrassing gaffe seen around the world.

Source: Flickr/Karas Hall

There was great irony in Biden mangling poetic words meant to soothe bitter divides. The blunder only invited more partisan rancor – the exact opposite of Lincoln’s intent. In trying yet failing to channel that earlier president’s essence, Biden’s mistake opened wider questions on whether he can lead a similarly fractured nation.

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Matty Jacobson

Written by Matty Jacobson

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