Neither advancing senility nor Presidential responsibility have dampened the flames of Joe Biden’s antipathy towards Britain.
That hostility is in part fueled by his attachment to a simplistic, unbalanced narrative about America’s relationship with Ireland, which he likes to see as his ancestral home, even though his family’s roots in England are just as strong.
Throughout his long, unifying career in Washington, he has regularly given flashes of his anti-British, pro-Irish outlook. He usually names Wolfe Tone, an 18th-century Irish Protestant who led a major rebellion against British rule, as his political hero.
During his 2020 election campaign, the BBC put in a request for a “quick word” with him. “The BBC? I’m Irish,” he responded.
This is a man so enamored of his Irish identity that his Secret Service codename is “Celtic”. Biden’s latest outburst is entirely in keeping with this attitude.
With breath-taking arrogance, he said that he visited Ulster last month to “make sure the Brits did not screw around” and “walk away from their commitments”.
It was a ridiculous statement, given Biden is far too deeply in the grip of mental and physical decline to exert any diplomatic authority.
Indeed, on his trip, he made a typically idiotic but revealingly anti-British gaffe, mistakenly referring to the All-Blacks rugby team as “the Black and Tans”, the nickname for the ruthless British auxiliaries who waged a guerrilla campaign against the IRA. during the 1919 to 1921 Irish war of independence.
Moreover, Biden’s one-sided language, reflected in the derogatory term “Brits”, is just what the delicate peace process in Northern Ireland doesn’t need. His macho posturing represents a profound insult to the extraordinary, highly effective hard work that Rishi Sunak put into negotiating the Windsor Framework.
Even Michelle O’Neill, the leader of Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland, showed far more respect for the British Government and the Ulster Unionists than Biden has recently. Tellingly, Ms O’Neill was gracious in her acceptance of an invitation to attend the Coronation, whereas Biden could not be bothered to turn up.
Not content with avoiding that event, he made the briefest possible visit to Belfast and then rebuked Sunak for not forcing the Democratic Unionists to the Stormont executive.
All this is typical of his political life. In 1985, he fiercely opposed an extradition treaty that would have allowed IRA suspects to be removed from the USA. He also likes to trumpet the fact that his great-grandfather Edward Blewitt was a member of the Molly Maguires, a violent secret society of Irish migrant miners.
Some of his contempt for Britain seems to stem from his mother Catherine Finnegan – known as Jean – who loathed everything English. Biden says she wrote several poems that “described how God must smite the English and rain blood on their heads”.
She once spent a night in a hotel room in England and was “so appalled” to learn that Queen Elizabeth herself had once been a guest. So “she slept on the floor all night, rather than risk sleeping in a bed that the Queen had slept on”.
Biden’s negativity is in dramatic contrast to the co-operative role that Bill Clinton played in helping to secure the Good Friday Agreement. But Biden’s whole outlook is a menace to the special relationship.
Speaking of some of his relatives, Biden once said “the Finnegans are fond of their Irish grudges and they don’t easily let one go”.
That is the blinkered, puerile mentality that the President now adopts towards the USA’s closest partner.