Issues & Insights

The Toughest Job In D.C. — Transcribing Biden’s Remarks

Watching President Joe Biden try to make his way through a speech is painful enough. Reading a transcript of it is worse. Not just because Biden’s words are even more confusing in print, but because you start to feel a strong sense of pity for the person responsible for figuring out what he is trying to say, how much of it to transcribe verbatim, and which facts to correct.

We looked through Biden’s remarks from just this month and found 15 instances where the transcriber felt compelled to make corrections on things the president said.

Here’s an example from one 11-minute speech he gave over the weekend in Palo Alto.

Forty million — 40 million Americans already drinking water that thousands of farmers rely on for — for integration [irrigation].  And 40 million count on that river and so do the farmers….

Folks, flood mitigation: $3.5 million [billion] to reduce or eliminate the risk of repetitive flood damage to buildings, plus $1 billion in funding mitigation measures to increase community resilience, like supporting adaptations of hazard-resistant building codes

And maybe most important, I’ve committed by 2020 [2030], we will have conserved 30 percent of all the lands and waters the United States has jurisdiction over and simultaneously reduce emissions to blunt climate impacts.

Other examples from this month as they appear in the official White House transcripts:

  • “Mary Robinson [Barra], the Chairman of the Board of General Motors …”
  • “Instead, I signed into law the Bipartisan Safers [sic] Community Act, which you’ve referenced several times today …”
  • “Last summer, I had the honor of bestowing the Presidential Meda- — Medal of Freemon [sic] — Freedom on distinguished Americans …”
  • “The ticket seller, SeatGreek [SeatGeek], is also set to give customers the option of seeing all-in, upfront prices …”
  • “And I’m pleased we’re also joined by x-pay [sic] — xBk, a small venue in Des Moines, Iowa, that’s going be using all upfront pricing for its hundred events at — a year as well …”
  • “Let me tell you, the Inflation Reduction Act includes $369 billion to comat [sic] — combat climate change …”
  • “We made clear — they made clear that we’d rather th- — they’d rather threaten the default of the U.S. economy than cut or get rid of, for example, $30 billion in taxpayer subsidies to oil companies who made $200 million [sic] last year — billion.  I said ‘million.’  Billion dollars last year …”
  • “When we were at the G7, we talked about — one of the meetings was — they used to call the Build Back Better World. It’s not that now. It’s the PIII [PGII] — P-triple-I [sic] …”
  • “At the G7, it was originally called Build Back Better World, but we were talking about — there’s a new PPI [PGII] — anyway — an industrial policy that we’re all signed on to …”
  • “As Commander-in-Chief, I was proud to have ended the ban on transgester [sic] Americans — transgender Americans serving in the United States military …”
  • “And finally, this executive order means more resources, especially when it comes to improving military families’ access to quality, defendable [dependable], and affordable — affordable childcare …”
  • “This could have been the week that a catastrophic — catastrophic devault [sic] — default happened …”

But, while the White House appears to be trying to present an accurate record of Biden’s mumbles and stumbles, even this is a cleaned-up version of history.

At that same Palo Alto event, what the audience heard Biden say was: “Here in California, the goverer — you and I stood together.” But the official transcript has Biden correctly pronouncing the word “governor.”

Then there are all the times the transcriber just has to give up and put “(inaudible)” in places where Biden so garbles his words that nobody can make them out. That happened at a Cabinet meeting earlier this month, when Biden said “I’m going to ask Natalie, quickly, to explain, while you’re all here, how it works.  We don’t have the ability — it’s not — we don’t have a laptop to type over (inaudible).  We’re just going to show you.” (See whether you can decipher the missing words at the 3:34 mark on the video.)

And all this is to say nothing of the bizarre and befuddling things that routinely come out of Biden’s mouth these days. Such as when he ended a speech saying “God save the Queen, man.” Or when he declared that “We have plans to build a railroad from the Pacific all the way across the Indian Ocean.”

Last week, Biden attended an event about the rebuilding of I-95 after a section collapsed outside Philadelphia, which also featured the city’s mayor, the state’s governor and its even more remarkably incoherent junior senator. After the mayor praised Biden’s response to the event, Biden went back up the podium to say “I might add that if I didn’t, I’d be sleeping alone.” Which he apparently meant as a joke, but which nobody understood. So, he came back to the mic to say: “I have to explain … I better explain that sumdonnowhatmtal. My wife’s a Philly girl.” Then, looking confused, he says, “alright, where we goin’?”

That part of the event, captured by C-SPAN, didn’t make it into the White House transcript.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

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I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • Biden should strive to be a bit more like Calvin Coolidge.
    A woman seated next to Silent Cal said:”I have a bet I can make you say more than two words.”
    “You lose,” replied Coolidge.

  • Actually, transcribing Biden’s is the second most difficult job in DC. The most difficult is being the signer for Biden’s sign language interpreter.

  • Not such a tough job! They can attribute any quote they want! Biden isn’t going to argue!

  • The pathetic old senile little girl fondling bassturd didn’t even know what state he was campaigning in half the time and sometimes thought he was running for the Senate.
    The two absolute dumbest most brain dead feckless inept incompetent
    least self aware incapable morally bankrupt and totally clueless persons on the
    entire planet are now president and vice president (at times senile Biden
    isn’t sure which is which) running this country, all due to a rigged

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