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Biden Tries To Tell Joke Reagan Told At Coast Guard Commencement Address, Butchers It
US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on Covid-19 response and the vaccination program, from the Rose Garden of the White House, Washington, DC on May 13, 2021.
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden told a joke in a commencement address to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s 2021 graduating class that was famously told by former President Ronald Reagan, but it didn’t go well.

Back in 1988, when Reagan was 77 and in the final year of his presidency, he brought down the house with a quip about the Coast Guard, the fifth wing of the U.S. military and often the brunt of jokes.

“My Coast Guard aides have been excellent. One of them taught me that, and I quote, ‘The Coast Guard is that hard nucleus about which the Navy forms in time of war,'” Reagan told the cadets, who laughed raucously and then broke into cheers.

Biden, 78, lifted the joke for his own address but reading from a teleprompter, he omitted a key word that made the joke unintelligible and fall flat. He also didn’t point out that Reagan told the joke at a Coast Guard commencement address.

“I can only assume that you will enjoy educating your family about how the Coast Guard is, quote, “the hard nucleus around the Navy forms in times of war.”


Biden was miffed and blasted the audience.

“You are a, why, you are a really dull class,” Biden said. “I mean, c’mon, man. Is the sun getting to you? I would think you’d have an opportunity when I say that about the Navy to clap,” he said, drawing a smattering of belated applause.

Watch the two presidents’ delivery below and the audiences’ responses.

Washington Examiner commentator Becket Adams also said: “fyi, Reagan delivered this joke in 1988, at the end of his presidency and when dementia rumors were rampant.”

Biden’s lame attempt at humor came a day after he made a joke about running over a reporter with a truck. Biden was touring a Ford plant in Michigan on Tuesday when he drove by a group of pool reporters as he test-drove a Ford F-150 Lightning. Some asked him how he liked the truck, but one tried to ask the president about the Middle East crisis.

“Mr. President, can I ask you a quick question on Israel before you drive away since it’s so important?” the reporter asked.

“No, you can’t,” Biden said. “Not unless you get in front of the car as I step on it.”

“I’m only teasing,” the president said, then drove off.

In his first run for the White House in 1988, Biden was forced to withdrew after admitting to plagiarism and exaggeration of his academic record.

Biden dropped out after it was revealed “he had used extensive quotes from other politicians without attributing them, had failed a law school course after failing to attribute a long quotation in a paper he wrote, and had inaccurately and angrily boasted about his academic record during a campaign appearance in New Hampshire,” The Chicago Tribune reported in September 1987.

Joseph Curl covered the White House for a dozen years and ran the Drudge Report for four years. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter at @JosephCurl.

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