Joe Biden Welcomes Gabrielle Giffords To The “Cracked Head Club”

Some, no doubt, will chalk this up as another Biden-ism:

“When I went up, she said, ‘Joe,” Biden recalled of his meeting with Giffords. “I said, ‘Now we’re both members of the Cracked Head Club.’ You know, I had two craniotomies. For real. They literally took the top of my head off. Twice. Now, the wags in Delaware, when the second operation occurred, wrote and said, ‘Well, it’s because they couldn’t find a brain the first time!'”

“She and I just commiserated about the steps to recovery,” he added. “Hers, much more consequential. But it scares the living devil out of you when you’re recovering from a serious operation or injury to your head. But it comes back. And knowing people who’ve been through it and came back was helpful, for me anyway. You know what I mean?”

It sounds slightly insensitive, I suppose but it struck me as a the same form of commiserating you see among survivors of heart bypass surgery who refer to themselves a members of “The Zipper Club.” Although that particular monicker took on a slightly different connotation when Larry King and Bill Clinton talked about it.


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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Rob Prather says:


    This doesn’t strike me as insensitive in the slightest. Both have head their heads opened, for different reasons, but they seem to be in a club of sorts.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    it is only insensitive if she does not have a sense of humor.

  3. @Rob Prather:

    That’s my reaction too but, of course, many on the right are jumping on this as another one of Biden’s malapropisms

  4. @Doug Mataconis:

    That’s my reaction too but, of course, many on the right are jumping on this as another one of Biden’s malapropisms

    They’re probably unaware Biden has had brain surgery and think he was speaking metaphorically (which would have been in poor taste).

  5. mattb says:

    @Stormy Dragon: They’re probably reacting to it because Biden said it.

  6. CarolO says:

    Joe has had his head split due to two craniotomies to remove brain aneurysms. What he said to Gabby was simply said in jest. They are friends and worked many years together. He’s also a kind man and would not say anything to hurt his friend so find something else to complain about.

  7. Steve Verdon says:

    I would also say it depends on Giffords sense of humor, and perhaps Biden nows it a bit better than the rest of us.

    A friend of mine here at work had a very bad bicycle accident, he was also known for having a sense of humor that went right up to the edge of what was appropriate. So with a couple of other co-workers I jokingly said, “So now that Eric is back shall we go get him a set of training wheels.” They looked at me like I was insane. When I relayed the story to Eric he laughed and said he hates how everyone skirts around his accident and that he would have laughed at the gift. He also would joke around with people by coming up and saying, “Stop me if you heard this before,….” then purposefully launch into a story he just told them. He’d laugh and tell them he was kidding and that the look in their face was funny.

    So while Biden can put his foot in his mouth quite easily, I’m not at all sure this was one of those moments.