Speed Reads

Biden Unshackled

Biden got to test-drive Ford's electric F-150 Lightning, and the Israel-Gaza fight wasn't going to spoil his ride

His predecessor may have liked big rigs, but President Biden is a car guy.

"My name is Joe Biden, and I'm a car guy," he said at Ford's electric vehicle production facility in Dearborn, Michigan, on Tuesday. Biden was in Michigan to mark Wednesday's unveiling of the Ford F-150 Lightning, the all-electric version of America's best-selling vehicle, and to promote electric vehicles as a way of tackling the climate crisis.

"We're at a great inflection point in American history," Biden said. "How we handle the next four to 10 years is going to determine where we are going to be 30, 40, 50 years from now." He said "the future of the auto industry is electric" and China's currently winning.

The evident highlight of the day for Biden was test-driving the Ford Lightning. "This sucker's quick," he told reporters. "I think we're going zero to 60 in four-point-three. Four-point-four?"

Biden is facing multiple crises, but on Tuesday he "wanted, if only for a moment, to leave that all behind for what he could pretend was an open road but really was an open lot of concrete," Matt Viser reports at The Washington Post. When a reporter asked if he'd answer a question about Israel's bloody fight with Gaza, he said no, "not unless you get in front of the car as I step on it. I'm only teasing," he added, smiling.

The Israel-Gaza conflict intruded, anyway. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who has family in Palestine, met Biden and the airport to urge stronger pressure on Israel to agreed to a ceasefire. He name-checked her during his Dearborn speech, calling her "a fighter, and God thank you for being a fighter."

But overall, "the day revealed Biden not so much in rare form but in his truest form," Viser writes. "The affection for automobiles is as much a part of Biden as his Irishness and his love of ice cream," dating back at least to his father's work at a car dealership.

When asked in 2011 about a 2009 Onion article showing a shirtless Biden, then vice president, washing a Trans Am in the White House driveway, Biden laughed and told Car and Driver: "You think I'd drive a Trans Am? I have been in my bathing suit in my driveway and not only washed my Goodwood-green 1967 Corvette but also Simonized it."