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Biden absolves cadets of ‘minor infractions’ and invokes own fire extinguisher prank

President Joe Biden took particular delight Wednesday by upholding the tradition of absolving graduating Coast Guard cadets of any ‘minor infractions’ – then alluded to carrying out a college prank of my own.

‘As your commander in chief I’ve been looking forward to being able to do this for a long time. I want to keep the longstanding tradition: I hereby absolve all those serving restrictions [for] minor infractions – absolved’ that might otherwise mar the records of graduating cadets, he told them.

‘You have no idea how much I wish you’d have been able to do that in my graduation,’ he joked. 

‘You all think I’m kidding. I’m not. Minor infractions like using a fire extinguisher to hose down an RA, but other than that …’ he said, alluding to a prank he carried out on his dorm advisor at the University of Delaware. 

Biden made the quip on a trip to the Coast Guard Academy in New London, where he spoke to cadets from the Bears stadium located on the Thames river on a hot May day.

At another point, he ribbed graduates for apparently failing to respond to an attempt he made to joke about inter-service rivalry when he mentioned the Navy.

‘You’re a really dull class,’ Biden joked. ‘I mean, come on, man, is the sun getting to you?’ 

‘I would think you’d have an opportunity when I say that about the Navy to clap,’ he said. Then he got a laugh and the round of applause he was looking for.  

President Joe Biden spoke to Coast Guard Academy graduates, and referenced a college prank where he hosed down the head of his college dorm with a fire extinguisher

He held up a sword given to him as a gift after his speech where he joked that the graduating class was 'dull' for not getting his joke

He held up a sword given to him as a gift after his speech where he joked that the graduating class was ‘dull’ for not getting his joke 

Biden addressed the new Coast Guard cadets who graduated in front of their parents

Biden addressed the new Coast Guard cadets who graduated in front of their parents 

Cadets throw their caps in the air during the U.S. Coast Guard Academy commencement ceremony in New London, Connecticut

Cadets throw their caps in the air during the U.S. Coast Guard Academy commencement ceremony in New London, Connecticut

According to Richard Ben Cramer’s seminal What It Takes , Biden ‘screwed around’ in school, ‘trying to be Joe College.’

He got probation ‘for dousing the dorm director with a fire extinguisher.’ High school pranks included streaking in the parking lot.  

But he also delivered words honoring the vital service provided by the Coast Guard, while sprinkling in warnings for adversaries. 

He brought up the 30 named storms that ravaged the country, and raised the threat of climate change.

‘And the Coast Guard was always there to respond. Even at the height of the pandemic,’ he said. He acknowledged the new class for choosing the ‘difficult path.’He also delivered a message to Russia and China, with whom he said he had ‘direct discussion,’ about freedom of navigation. He called freedom of navigation the ‘bedrock’ of the global economy.  

‘When nations try to game the system or tilt the rules in their favor, it throws everything off balance,’ he said. 

He said he was ‘adamant’ that the parts fo the world that are ‘arteries of trade and shipping remain peaceful, whether that’s the South China Sea, the Arabian Gulf, and increasingly the Arctic.  

‘It’s of vital interest to America’s foreign policy secure unimpeded flow of global commerce.’ 

He called for shipping to ‘remain peaceful’ in the South China Sea, the Arabian Gulf, and ‘increasingly the Arctic.’

He also sprinkled other light moments in his remarks, including after he brought up the Navy. ‘Come on, man, is the sun getting to you?’ he asked, after the crowd didn’t seize the opportunity to clap. Graduates then joined in a round of applause.

Biden handed diplomas to graduating cadets, who became ensigns and were having their assignments announced as they walked across a stage.

He posed with each, elbow bumping some.  

Biden referenced a college prank where he sprayed a resident associate in his dorm with a fire extinguisher

Biden referenced a college prank where he sprayed a resident associate in his dorm with a fire extinguisher

Cadets listen during the commencement for the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Cadets listen during the commencement for the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Biden delivered his first graduation speech as president

Biden delivered his first graduation speech as president

President Joe Biden greets a cadet during the U.S. Coast Guard Academy commencement ceremony in New London, Connecticut, U.S., May 19, 2021

President Joe Biden greets a cadet during the U.S. Coast Guard Academy commencement ceremony in New London, Connecticut, U.S., May 19, 2021

When he was done, he was presented with a ceremonial sword. ‘I won’t be needing this any time soon,’ he joked. 

Biden delivered his first commencement as president Wednesday.

He spoke to cadets after the White House told reporters traveling aboard Air Force One that he had phoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to press a ‘significant deescalation’ in Israel’s war with Hamas.

‘The president conveyed to the prime minister that he expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire,’ White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told DailyMail.com and a group of reporters traveling with the president. 

Earlier, Rear Admiral William G. Kelly, superintendent of the academy, urged graduates ‘fair winds and great success.’ He also acknowledged 2020 graduates, who he said ‘missed out’ on the pomp and circumstance last year amid the spreading pandemic.

Biden flies to New London, Connecticut to deliver the speech Wednesday morning. Presidents deliver graduation to the service academies on a rotating basis.

Early indications were that the president would speak about the role of the Coast Guard in safeguarding the nation’s security, although presidents sometimes use spring graduation ceremonies to touch on more sweeping themes.

President Joe Biden speaks to Coast Guard Academy graduates on Wednesday

President Joe Biden speaks to Coast Guard Academy graduates on Wednesday

In Biden’s case, the speech comes as the administration was set to formally announce 60 per cent of Americans had received at least one coronavirus shot. It also comes a day after fighting between Israel and Hamas intruded on his trip to Michigan.

Biden spoke for several minutes on the tarmac in Michigan with Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who according to her office pressed him on what she called unconditional support for Israel.

President Joe Biden speaks with Representative Rashida Taib (D-Mich) during Tuesday's trip to Detroit. He acknowledged her Palestinian family in remarks

President Joe Biden speaks with Representative Rashida Taib (D-Mich) during Tuesday’s trip to Detroit. He acknowledged her Palestinian family in remarks

Step on it! Biden took heat after he joked about running over a reporter who asked a question about Israel when he was test-driving the new F150 electric truck

Step on it! Biden took heat after he joked about running over a reporter who asked a question about Israel when he was test-driving the new F150 electric truck

Vice President Joe Biden gestures during commencement for the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Vice President Joe Biden gestures during commencement for the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Amid growing pressure from fellow Democrats, the Administration leaked Tuesday that Biden had told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he could only hold off criticism of its strikes in Gaza for a limited period of time. The New York Times reported on the tougher private tone Biden took after the White House said only that he had expressed ‘support’ for a cease fire.

Some House Democrats are demanding a call for an immediate cease fire.

Israel is studying whether the time is right to stop its bombing campaign in cause, but is preparing for ‘more days’ of strikes, AFP reported, citing an Israeli military source.  

‘We are looking at when is the right moment for a ceasefire,’ said the source. 

Biden addressed Coast Guard graduates in 2013 when he was vice president.  


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