After decades of struggle and months of political in-fighting, Barack Obama stood poised to sign into law historic reforms to America’s healthcare system. But first his vice-president had to have his foot removed from his mouth.
At a White House ceremony for Obama to seal passage of the legislation by giving it his signature, vice-president Joe Biden gave an introduction praising Obama’s leadership.
“Mr President, you’re the guy that made it happen,” he said, before embracing Obama and excitedly whispering in his ear: “This is a big f**king deal!”
The aside may have been meant for Obama’s ears alone but it was picked up the microphone on the podium and broadcast to the watching television audience of millions.
Applause drowned out Biden’s comment to the dignitaries in the East Room but the reaction on blogs and cable news channels was instantaneous.
“The vice-president used a word that most of us would never use in front of our mother,” said CNN anchor Rick Sanchez, explaining why his network bleeped out the remark in its replays. Ben Smith, a blogger for the Politico website, labelled it: “The mother of all Biden moments.”
Shortly after, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs embraced Biden’s slip, by writing on Twitter: “And yes, Mr Vice President, you’re right.”