President Joe Biden's recent claim of being appointed to the United States Naval Academy in 1965 by the late Sen. J. Caleb Boggs, R-Del., apparently has no archival evidence to back it up.
The president alluded to the supposed appointment/recommendation at the Naval Academy's graduation ceremony last month. However, according to the New York Post, a search of Senator Boggs' archives hasn't produced anything connecting Biden to the Academy in the early- to mid-'60s.
Citing the Post story, curators at the Delaware Historical Society were able to find records of Boggs' academy nomination for some years during the 1960s — but nothing covering 1961 or 1965.
"Our staff devoted a large chunk of last week to this project. We hauled and sorted through a few dozen boxes from the relevant years, which proved to be a needle-in-a-haystack proposition, as we feared," chief curator Leigh Rifenburg told The Post.
The most plausible years for Biden pursuing a Naval Academy recommendation would have come in 1961, 1962, or 1965.
According to Rifenburg, the three-person DHS staff was able to find a list of Boggs' academy picks for 1962 after a "box-by-box" search, but young Joe Biden wasn't on that particular list.
Biden graduated with a bachelor's degree from the University of Delaware in 1965, before attending law school at Syracuse University. But since the Naval Academy doesn't award graduate degrees, it's highly likely that Biden wouldn't have been pursuing an academy recommendation for that year.
That plausibly leaves researchers with 1961, a time when Biden — who has a birthday in November — was 18 for the majority of that year.
But without any archival proof from the DHS or Boggs' family, President Biden might be the only person alive to corroborate a claim that's potentially 61 years old.
"To be safe, we searched the full range of dates from 1960 to 1965. It does seem extraordinarily unlikely that an appointment would have been made in 1965, given President Biden's years of matriculation at the University of Delaware, but we wanted to be thorough," said Rifenburg.
"We were unable to find appointments for entry in 1961, 1963, 1964, or 1965," she said.
A congressional nomination is needed to attend the Naval Academy. However, it's unclear if Senator Boggs nominated candidates each year, Rifenburg added.
In fairness to President Biden, who will turn 80 in November, time passages have a way of clouding the recollection of certain stories for just about everyone.
Case in point: In 2010, while serving as vice president to President Barack Obama, Biden shared a slightly different version of the "Naval Academy appointment" story for that year's graduation ceremony.
Back then, speaker Biden said he was merely "considered" by Senator Boggs for a Naval Academy recommendation — in the year 1960.
The one problem with that: Boggs didn't get sworn-in as a U.S. senator until 1961.
"In 1960, I was a pretty good football player at the University of Delaware, and I was one of the guys that applied to come to this great academy," VP Biden recalled in 2010.
"And a fellow named J. Caleb Boggs considered me and I thought I was going to be a pretty good ballplayer. And then I found out you had two guys in the backfield back in those days ... and I realized I wasn't gonna get a chance to play at all. You had a guy named [Roger] Staubach and a guy named [Joe] Bellino. So I went to the University of Delaware."
Bellino and Staubach are the only two Navy midshipmen to win the Heisman Trophy, the most prestigious award in college football. Bellino won in 1960, while Staubach did so in 1963.
On Tuesday, a White House official told the Post, "The president has spoken about this in the past — including when he addressed the 2010 U.S. Naval Academy commencement. As he said in 2010, and recently, the president considered attending the Naval Academy but ultimately took his football talents to the University of Delaware."
It's worth noting: In 1988, then-candidate Biden ended his first presidential campaign prematurely, due to a scandal involving plagiarism of speeches and a law school paper, along with controversy over claims Biden made about his academic record.
Biden has been in the political arena for 50 years, which means he's been prone to embellishment with certain recollections.
As an isolated incident, the American public might be more forgiving of an autobiographical inaccuracy. But through the years, it's been a staple of Biden's storytelling; and therein lies the problem.
Especially when there's an apples-to-apples comparison between politicians from opposing parties.
For example, on Monday, a Barstool Sports political post likened Biden's seemingly erroneous claim to "stolen valor" and compared it to Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C.'s misleading claim that his Naval Academy dreams were derailed by the car accident that left him paralyzed.
In reality, Cawthorn had been turned down for admission before the accident took place.
Democrats subsequently hammered Cawthorn, 26, for his erroneous statement.
In fact, Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., tweeted last year that "the biggest lie a politician has ever told" was "[l]ying about getting into the Naval Academy."
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