Obamacare signing marred by Biden’s ‘fuck’ gaffe

Obama and Biden sign the healthcare bill

Microphone picks up Joe Biden’s whispered comment to the president

BY Jack Bremer LAST UPDATED AT 08:44 ON Wed 24 Mar 2010

Using a series of 20 separate pens so that they could be handed out as momentoes of the occasion, President Barack Obama yesterday signed into law the historic reforms to America's healthcare system finally passed by the House of Representatives on Sunday night. But not before his vice president, Joe Biden, put his foot in it.

Biden, chief cheerleader to the president, welcomed Obama to the White House signing ceremony with the words: "Mr President, you're the guy that made it happen!" Embracing his boss, he then whispered in his ear: "This is a big fucking deal!" - not realising the microphone would pick it up and broadcast the comment to millions watching on TV.

The US media, already struggling with a difficult occasion - for every American delighted by the passage of the bill, there's at least another one infuriated by the cost of the measures - were suitably horrified. CNN's anchorman Rick Sanchez said "the vice-president used a word that most of us would never use in front of our mother". Only the White House press secretary Robert Gibbs responded coolly, writing soon afterwards on Twitter:
"And yes, Mr Vice President, you're right."

Biden is known for his gaffes - he once told a wheelchair-bound man attending an election rally in Missouri, "Stand up, Chuck, let them see you" - but at least his use of the F-word was not intimidating. George's Bush's Veep, Dick Cheney, once told Patrick Leahy, a Democratic senator, to "fuck yourself" during a Senate debate.

Among the large crowd at the White House for what Obama hopes will be a defining moment of his presidency, were the wife and son of the late Senator Edward Kennedy, who was Obama's greatest supporter in driving through the healthcare legislation before he died in August last year.

Vicki Kennedy, wearing a blue plastic 'TedStrong' bracelet on her wrist, said: "I know how happy he would be". Patrick Kennedy had a gift for Obama: a copy of a national healthcare bill his father had attempted and failed to get enacted 40 years ago. · 

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