Several days ago, the world celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. This is a time when many people drink beer, gather with loved ones, and otherwise enjoy festivities.
In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is actually a national holiday. Dublin, in particular, is known for having parades where people dress up in green and really go all out to celebrate the day.
In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, the prime minister of Ireland, recently visited the United States. However, during the world leader’s stay, he wound up walking back a joke he made regarding an extramarital affair had by former President Bill Clinton, per the Daily Mail.
Having Second Thoughts
While in Washington DC, Ireland’s Taoiseach joked that there was a time when certain parents had concerns about what would happen to their kids who were interning.
Varadkar made this comment while speaking with a group of interns at the White House, clearly referring to the infamous affair that Clinton had in the late 1990s with an intern of his own.
The Gift of the Gaffe
TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar’s #StPatrickDay visit to Washington DC became engulfed in controversy last night after he made an ill-judged joke about former US president Bill Clinton’s affair with an intern. #LeotheLiability pic.twitter.com/hEwujWVdRa
— Mick Caul (@caulmick) March 17, 2023
However, it didn’t take long for the prime minister of Ireland to try walking this back. One day before meeting with Joe Biden, the office of Varadkar stated that he “regretted” making a comment that was both “off the cuff” and “ill-judged.”
Finally, the office of Ireland’s leader also apologized to anyone who may have taken offense to what was said. Varadkar later went on to have his meeting with Biden, which is said to have gone off without a hitch.
Backlash Against the Taoiseach
Despite the apology from Varadkar’s office, he still came under fire, notably from some folks in Ireland.
Ireland journalist Kevin Doyle, for instance, claimed the Taoiseach has a pattern of putting his foot into his mouth whenever he visits the United States. David Quinn, a columnist based in Ireland, also claimed that Varadkar’s comment was “crass.”
Continuing a longstanding St. Patrick’s Day tradition, President Biden met with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of Ireland today to reaffirm the close and historic bond between the United States and Ireland. pic.twitter.com/QyxGPrZ5Ds
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) March 17, 2023
However, the White House did not make any mention of what the Taoiseach joked about. In fact, social media accounts for the official Biden White House put out a photo of Biden smiling alongside Varadkar.
In doing this, the White House also said the Taoiseach’s visit to the states is in keeping with tradition on St. Patrick’s Day. This is a tradition which takes place to honor the friendly relationship that exists between the United States of America and Ireland.
During his time in America, Varadkar also ironically met with former first lady Hillary Clinton. This meeting happened before his joke about interns.