The bar was already set pretty low during the Obama administration when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to comfort the parents of Americans murdered by Islamic terrorists in Benghazi by promising to lock up a guy who made a YouTube video.
Biden though treated these moments like his campaign and kept talking about Beau Biden.
It was bad enough that Biden’s botched retreat from Afghanistan and his decision to hand over Kabul to the Taliban led to the deaths of 13 American military personnel, but his only ability to interact with family members seemed to alternate between giving his stump speech about Beau Biden or snapping at them.
Mark Schmitz had told a military officer the night before that he wasn’t much interested in speaking to a president he did not vote for, one whose execution of the Afghan pullout he disdains — and one he now blames for the death of his 20-year-old son Jared.
But overnight, sleeping in a nondescript hotel nearby, Schmitz changed his mind. So on that dreary morning he and his ex-wife were approached by Biden after he’d talked to all the other families. But by his own account, Schmitz glared hard at the president, so Biden spent more time looking at his ex-wife, repeatedly invoking his own son, Beau, who died six years ago.
Schmitz did not want to hear about Beau, he wanted to talk about Jared. Eventually, the parents took out a photo to show to Biden. “I said, ‘Don’t you ever forget that name. Don’t you ever forget that face. Don’t you ever forget the names of the other 12,’ ” Schmitz said. “ ‘And take some time to learn their stories.’ ”
Biden did not seem to like that, Schmitz recalled, and he bristled, offering a blunt response: “I do know their stories.”
That is typical Biden. And yes, Biden will have forgotten it already. That would have been true even twenty years ago.
When your actions get people killed, doing the same stump speech about your son, that you’ve been doing for years now, is not appropriate. It might be one thing if Biden didn’t talk about it in public, but then shared something privately. Except that Beau has long since become a stump speech for Biden and what’s needed here isn’t commiseration, but some sense of regret and an apology.
One of McCollum’s sisters, Roice, said she and her sister and her father joined McCollum’s wife, Jiennah McCollum, on the trip. But when it came time to meet with the president, they left the room, because she said they did not want to speak with the man they held responsible for McCollum’s death.
Only Jiennah, who is expecting the couple’s child next month, stayed. But she left disappointed, Roice said. The president brought up his son, Beau, according to her account, describing his son’s military service and subsequent death from cancer. It struck the family as scripted and shallow, a conversation that lasted only a couple of minutes in “total disregard to the loss of our Marine,” Roice said.
“You can’t f— up as bad as he did and say you’re sorry,” Roice said of the president. “This did not need to happen, and every life is on his hands.”
These meetings really did not go well. And much of that is on the hollowness of Biden. The retail politician is, like Bill Clinton, utterly shallow and narcissistic, eager to talk about himself, but incapable of any meaningful connection with other people.
“When he just kept talking about his son so much it was just — my interest was lost in that. I was more focused on my own son than what happened with him and his son,” Schmitz said. “I’m not trying to insult the president, 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,” Schmitz added. “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. Our son is now gone. Because of a direct decision or game plan — or lack thereof — that he put in place.”
But Biden is all about himself.
Schmitz said he grew agitated every time he saw Biden check his watch. And at the end, there was another outburst of emotion.
As the families began loading back onto their bus, one woman grew emotional and began screaming in Biden’s direction across the tarmac.
“She said, ‘I hope you burn in hell! That was my brother!’ ” Schmitz recounted.
“I can’t fault her for it,” he added. “We all lost somebody.”