Vice President Joe Biden was doing a pretty good job of avoiding the “verbal slip-ups he’s famous for,” said Alex Koppelman in Salon. But “that streak ended” Thursday morning when, on NBC’s Today show, Biden said he told relatives to stay away from airplanes and subways to avoid the swine flu. That may be solid medical advice, “but it certainly isn't the picture of calm” the administration wants to project. (watch Joe Biden’s swine flu comments on “Today”)

If Biden “sent you into a panic,” you’re not alone, said Chris Rovzar in New York. He sent his staff into a panic, too. “They rushed out a statement ‘clarifying’ his remarks,” insisting that Biden meant people should “avoid unnecessary air travel to and from Mexico”—where the outbreak has hit hardest—and stay out of confined public spaces if they’re sick. “That's sound, reasonable advice,” but it’s not what Biden said.

Twisting Biden’s words into “something more sensible” is never easy, said Jennifer Rubin in Commentary. But it’s impossible to fix this “mega-gaffe,” which will cost far more than the $300,000 in lost travel and business disruptions caused by the scary Air Force One New York flyover. Let’s hope President Obama sends Biden off on the funeral circuit before he does more damage.