WASHINGTON — President Biden told a series of cringe-worthy jokes about his Irish ancestry to mark St. Patrick’s Day, cracking that he’s surprised his distant Irish relatives aren’t “in jail” and that he’s “really not Irish” because he doesn’t drink alcohol.
The 80-year-old president, who is roughly five-eighths Irish, made the seemingly stereotype-laden attempts at humor as House Republicans investigate his family’s international business deals amid a federal criminal investigation of first son Hunter Biden.
“I’ve been to Ireland many times, but not to actually look up, to find my actual family members. And there are so many — and they actually weren’t in jail,” Biden said to scattered laughs as he recalled a six-day visit in which he met his relatives.
“There’s still a place called Finnegan’s pub … that’s related to my family,” the president went on.
“I’m the only Irishman you ever met, though, that’s never had a drink, so I’m OK. I’m really not Irish.”
The president spoke after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) at the annual Friends of Ireland luncheon at the Capitol. McCarthy, who also has Irish ancestry, expressed an interest in working together with Biden — recounting how Republican President Ronald Reagan and House Speaker Tip O’Neill (D-Mass.) managed to do so.
“I agree with the speaker, there’s no reason why we can’t find common ground. There’s no reason why we can’t hope to change this direction of the extremes in both parties are pushing,” Biden said.
“I think it’s important. I think it’s really important. And that’s the power of friendship. I think it’s the power of — it’s the strength of our partnership, if we work at it, and simply put, I think it’s the Irish of it.”
Biden’s meandering remarks didn’t directly touch on increasing pressure from GOP investigators who say they want to determine the president’s role in a series of business ventures dating to his vice presidency and even earlier involving his son Hunter and brother James Biden in countries including China, Mexico, Russia and Ukraine.
Biden declined to host a joint press conference Friday with visiting Irish leader Leo Varadkar after also declining to do so during other recent visits by world leaders, including the visits of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on March 3 and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Feb. 10.
At one point in his remarks Friday, Biden recounted meeting a corrupt Scranton political leader named “Paddy” as a child — noting humorously that the crooked pol always did what he said he would do.
Paddy was like “a late [Chicago] Mayor [Richard] Daley, you know, brother-in-law-on-the-payroll kind of thing,” Biden recalled — just a day after House Republicans released bank record information on Biden family income from China to Hunter and James Biden, presidential daughter-in-law Hallie Biden and also an unnamed Biden.
Biden said he couldn’t understand how his grandfather — “Mr. Rectitude” — would invite such a shady character to join the family for lunch.
“You’re wondering why I like Paddy?” Biden’s grandfather supposedly said.
“He said … ‘Let me tell you something,’ he’d look at you say, ‘Ambrose. I’m going to cut your heart out.’ And you know he’d mean it,” the president recalled.
“Or, ‘Ambrose, I’m going to jump off the bridge for you.’ Whatever he said, he’d do — just remember, do what you say. Do what you say.”