President Joe Biden strained relations with a South American country Wednesday at the United Nations by bumping into its flag before his speech, then leaving the podium without shaking hands with Brazil’s leader.
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, 77, appeared irritated after the two leaders shared a stage to speak about improving workers’ rights in each country, according to a report from the Daily Mail.
The 80-year-old leader of the free world bumped into a seven-foot tall Brazilian flag, sending it teetering, when he approached a United Nations podium to address assembled diplomats, the report noted.
Biden fumbled with the headset he wore to hear a translated version of President Lula’s speech, according to the report.
“Can you hear me President Biden?” Lula asked before beginning his speech. “This is a historical moment for Brazil, and for the US.”
“President Biden can you hear me?” Lula asked again, the report noted, adding Brazil’s leader appeared to lose patience as Biden grunted in response.
Biden continued to look confused, the Daily Mail reported, and grappled with his headset while Lula spoke. Biden dropped his earpiece at one point and raised his eyebrows in frustration, according to the report.
When Lula finished his speech, Biden shook hands with International Labor Organization Director-General Gilbert Houngbo but seemed to snub Lula.
He turned away from Brazil’s president and made a cross between a salute and thumbs-up to the crowd before exiting stage right.
Biden’s tenure in the White House has been marked by a series of gaffes and missteps, raising concerns among some about his mental acuity.
A notable incident occurred on January 24, 2022, when Biden, unaware his microphone was on, referred to White House reporter Peter Doocy as a “stupid son of a bitch” in response to a question about inflation.
The president later personally apologized to the journalist for the remark.
On March 8, 2022, Biden struggled to recall the name of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
“I want to thank Sec-, the former general, I keep calling him ‘General.’ My – the guy who runs that outfit over there,” Biden said, adding, “I want to make sure we thank the secretary for all he’s done.”
Biden’s lapses have not been limited to names. He has, on multiple occasions, referred to Vice President Kamala Harris as the “president.”
For instance, during a commencement speech at South Carolina State University, he said, “Of course, President Harris is a proud Howard alum.”
He made a similar error during a voting rights speech in Georgia, stating, “President Harris and I stood on the United States Capitol.”
The president’s gaffes have extended to international matters as well. During a press conference at the G7 on June 13, 2021, Biden confused Syria with Libya multiple times while discussing collaboration with Russia.
Physical missteps have also been a concern.
Biden fell off a bike he was riding near his Rehoboth Beach home in Delaware June 18, 2022, while trying to greet a crowd. He was on the ground for 10 seconds before being helped up by Secret Service agents.
The president later assured reporters he was fine, saying, “I’m good.”
Another physical stumble occurred on March 19 when Biden tripped up the stairs while trying to board Air Force One. White House Deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre later attributed the incident to windy conditions.