WASHINGTON, D.C. (API) Facing a massive swine flu pandemic and fears that have raised the World Health Organization’s flu alert to phase “5,” Joe Biden told Americans today that they should avoid getting on airplanes and buses, avoid sneezing, coughing or being around anyone, even family members, and in fact, that Americans should isolate themselves completely from all human contact. Then he ran away.
“My advice to you in the face of the swine flu epidemic is ‘Run!’” said Biden, “Run like hell,” right before turning heel and bolting away from the group of assembled reporters in the White House Rose Garden.
Veteran reporter Helen Thomas was just about to ask Biden a follow-up question about whether Biden’s “run” strategy contradicted President Obama’s more circumspect “wait and see” approach to the flu pandemic that originated in Mexico, a virus that in the last couple of weeks has spread to major U.S. cities and infected 257 people around the world.
“Mr. Biden could you … wait a minute, where’s he going?” asked Thomas.
CNN reporter Rob Gates specifically wanted to know from Biden whether it was true the pandemic in Mexico had stabilized.
“I figured Biden, with his impeccable international affairs credentials, would give a great answer to that one,” said Gates. “But he just took off faster than a greased pig, if you’ll pardon the pun.”
“That was a good pun,” said CBS News correspondent Laura Winters. “I’m sorry, I’m at a loss here. Biden left. We’re just kind of gawping at each other.”
It wasn’t clear where Biden would run to or what his advice for other Americans was rather than to simply panic and to go wherever the inspiration of pure, cold animal fear took them.
“We all know he hails from Delaware and Pennsylvania and usually takes the train home with his good friend Arlen Specter,” said Winters. “Perhaps Arlen knows where he is. Maybe they are on the train together.”
Specter, who shocked American politics earlier in the week by switching political parties to become a Democrat, said that he indeed often rode home on the Amtrak train with his friend Biden, but not today.
“I asked Joe if he was getting on the train with me, and he said, ‘So long, sucker.’ Then he ran up the apron and jumped down into the tracks, over the switchyards and through a stand of paper birch trees in a straight line headed north. I have no idea where he’s going unless he’s running all the way back to Delaware.”
President Obama tried to throw Biden’s remarks in some relief.
“Look,” said Obama. “We’re not sure exactly what Joe is thinking. Joe is Joe. He says what he says. And he … thinks what he thinks. Obviously, he thinks … we should run. That we all … should run. Run like hell. That is his position. It doesn’t happen to be mine.
“What we know is that the situation in Mexico has stabilized. There is no reason for countries like Egypt to slaughter their pigs. The CDC have so far done their job and found the locus of outbreak. People do not need to curtail their plans or overburden their health care system.”
“Joe will be back,” promised Obama. “He will smile with that big smile. And he will show in that smile the embarrassment and chagrin that we have come to expect as sure as the clock strikes 6 twice a day. We will, all of us, prevail.”
Biden’s wife was asked whether she had heard from her husband yet.
“Oh, I’m sure he’s somewhere, probably in a parking lot, feeling pretty stupid right about now. I’m going to go ahead and make him dinner.
“Is it too cruel to make him sausage?” she cackled. “How about chicken? Or maybe a nice plate of spine.”