| 11.6°C Dublin

celtic passion Former Obama chief says Joe Biden’s Putin gaffe was because of his Irish heritage

"I happen to think that Joe Biden, you know, he’s Irish, really has a great deal of compassion when he sees that people are suffering"

Close

Joe Biden (Evan Vucci/AP)

Joe Biden (Evan Vucci/AP)

Joe Biden (Evan Vucci/AP)

Former Obama defense secretary Leon Panetta has suggested US President Joe Biden’s comments over the weekend when he said Russian President Vladimir Putin "cannot remain in power” is because of his Irish heritage. 

During a carefully crafted speech aimed at rallying the world’s support for Ukraine, President Biden said, “for God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power”, that was picked up as a call for regime change in Russia.

The White House was forced to issue a statement clarifying that the President’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbours or the region.

“He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change,” said a White House official in a statement sent to reporters.

Leon Panetta, who served as secretary of defense when Biden was the vice president, suggested on Monday the president made the comments about Putin because of his Irish heritage.

"I can understand his emotional feel about Putin not staying in office,” he said.

“I think a lot of people would probably agree with that. But at this point in the game, you really have to keep your messages very simple and very direct, and I think this created some confusion that wasn’t helpful," Panetta said during an interview on CNN's Newsroom.

"I happen to think that Joe Biden, you know, he’s Irish, really has a great deal of compassion when he sees that people are suffering. And I think it overwhelmed him in the sense of seeing all of the horrors that were resulting from this war."

"So, you know, from a personal point of view, I understand why he said it. But at the same time, when you’re President of the United States, you just have to be disciplined to make sure you don’t make comments that ultimately have to be clarified by the White House," Panetta added.

Panetta was mocked on social media for bringing up Biden’s heritage as a means to explain his gaffe.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

New Republic associate editor Matt Ford joked "Our Irish-descent president simply cannot tame his reckless Celtic passions, claimed the former secretary of defense."

Washington Examiner executive editor Seth Mandel tweeted "Irish empathy strikes again."

However, Biden himself defended his comments on Monday, saying that he did not call for regime change despite saying Putin shouldn’t be in power.

"I was expressing my outrage at the behavior of this man," Biden said, calling the Russian president's behavior "outrageous" and that his comments about him were "more an aspiration than anything."

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Privacy