Vice President Joe Biden joked about his boss and offered Jewish Americans gushing flattery about their "immense" influence at a Tuesday evening event celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month.
The loquacious Biden opened with a joke after asking that his teleprompter be removed.
"You can't tell Barack that the teleprompter's down. The standing joke in the office is Barack's learning to speak without a teleprompter; I'm learning to speak with one," he said, gently mocking President Barack Obama at the Washington, D.C., event, according to a press pool report.
Biden then pivoted to praising the "immense" and "outsized" influence of Jewish Americans, a touchy topic that has throughout history been the subject of conspiracy theories and justification for persecution and genocide.
"No group has had such an outsized influence per capita," Biden said, according to the pool report. "You make up 11 percent of the seats in the United States Congress. You make up one-third of all Nobel laureates. ... I think you vastly underestimate the impact you've had on the development of this nation."
Biden said Jewish Americans were largely responsible for civil rights movements for African-Americans, women and gay people. Most recently, he said, Jews were influential in helping increase the percentage of Americans who support extending marriage rights to same-sex couples.
"I believe what affects the movements in America, what affects our attitudes in America are as much the culture and the arts as anything else," Biden said. "I bet you 85 percent of those changes, whether it's in Hollywood or social media are a consequence of Jewish leaders in the industry. The influence is immense, the influence is immense. And, I might add, it is all to the good."
Jonathan Chait of New York magazine described Biden's praise for the disproportionate influence of Jewish Americans as "highly uncomfortable" and pointed out that readers of at least one white supremacist website were pleased to hear the remarks.
"Jews regard [their success] with a mixture of pride and neurosis," Chait wrote. "The neurosis is a fear that our success will be seen as a kind of invidious control, that the broader society will at some point say, no, you have too much."
Jewish American Heritage Month, celebrated in May, was first established in 2006.