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September 1, 2021

Joe Biden Is Not a Gold Star Dad

The commander-in-chief should stop cynically trotting out the memory of his dead son.

“I’m not trying to insult the president,” said Mark Schmitz, “but it just didn’t seem that appropriate to spend that much time on his own son. I think it was all him trying to say he understands grief. … But when you’re the one responsible for ultimately the way things went down, you kind of feel like that person should own it a little bit more.”

Schmitz, the father of Jared Schmitz, a 20-year-old Marine Corps Lance Corporal who was one of 13 warriors killed in last Thursday’s terrorist bombings in Kabul, no doubt blames Joe Biden, at least in part, for his son’s death. And where the president’s habit of invoking the premature death of his own son in 2015 is concerned, Schmitz no doubt spoke for other newly minted Gold Star parents who attended the ceremony at Dover Air Force Base on Sunday.

Beau Biden was 46 when he died of brain cancer in 2015. The oldest of the warriors who died last Thursday, Darin Taylor, was 31; the rest were in their early 20s. Biden lived long enough to marry and have children. One of the 13, Marine Corps Lance Corporal Rylee McCollum, 20, of Jackson, Wyoming, was looking forward to becoming a father this month.

Biden joined the Delaware National Guard in 2003, when he was in his early 30s, which is considerably later than most who serve. Having a law degree, he rose through the Judge Advocate General’s Corps to the rank of major, and his unit was activated for deployment to Iraq in late 2008, by which time hostilities and combat operations had largely ceased. At the time, he was Delaware’s attorney general, and he was awarded the Bronze Star for his JAG work in Iraq. Beau Biden was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2013, and upon his death at Walter Reed Medical Center in 2015, he was awarded the Legion of Merit, which is presented “for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements.”

In short, Beau Biden lived a rich and full life, albeit a brief one, and he was able to say his goodbyes.

By contrast, the 13 who died in last week’s bombing were brutally snatched from us. They lived tragically, wrenchingly short lives. None of them had reached even a fraction of their life’s potential, and their deaths leave an enormous and irrevocable wound upon their loved ones — a wound that few others can possibly fathom.

Perhaps now we can better understand why Mark Schmitz didn’t want to hear about Beau Biden. The one simply doesn’t equate to the other. As former George W. Bush speechwriter William McGurn put it: “[Biden] bizarrely keeps invoking his son … whose early death from brain cancer was tragic but has nothing to do with Afghanistan, much less the 11 Marines, Navy corpsman and Army soldier killed in Thursday’s suicide bombing. Mr. Biden is not a Gold Star father and should stop playing one on TV.”

Sadly, this isn’t the first time Biden has cynically played the “Beau” card, and it likely won’t be the last.

Last November, our Mark Alexander wrote about candidate Biden’s repeated (and since debunked) attacks on then-President Donald Trump, whom he said had disparaged our World War I veterans during a commemorative event in France in 2018. As Alexander wrote: “Two days before the election, Biden was addressing our nation’s veterans in Philadelphia. He declared, ‘Guess what, man? [Trump] talks about you being losers and suckers. My son Beau Biden … volunteered to go to Iraq for a year. … He was not a loser. He was not a sucker.’”

Thus, as Alexander put it, Biden “used the casket of his deceased son as a soap box.” He did so again on Monday.

In life and in death, Joe Biden has failed these Gold Star families. He compounded and magnified that failure at Dover by focusing more on his own loss than those of the grieving families.

Late last Thursday, when the president finally emerged to address the nation some eight hours after the deadly bombing, he again brought up his son, saying, “We have some sense, like many of you do, what the families of these brave heroes are feeling today.”

No, sir. No. You do not.

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