Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
After getting 13 American military personnel killed in Kabul, Biden met with family members and, instead of listening to their pain and apologizing for his actions, lectured them about his son.
Former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, the scion of the family who took up the family business, figured large in his father’s speeches defending his disastrous retreat in Afghanistan. It was the same stump speech that Biden had been giving about his dead son for six years which he dusted off to explain why he was abandoning Americans in the hands of terrorists.
It was the same speech to which he subjected the family members of the men he killed.
“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,” Mark Schmitz, the father of Lance Cpl Jared Smitz, 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.”
The loss of a son is unimaginably painful, but Biden has spent the remainder of his political career exploiting Beau Biden, the way that he spent his early career exploiting his dead first wife and daughter by accusing the truck driver of being drunk or having broadsided her. In reality, his first wife drove into the path of the truck. What should have been a private tragedy was weaponized into a public spectacle with Biden taking his Senate oath at his son’s bedside.
The infamously theatrical scene of Beau as a little boy lying in a hospital bed in a room filled with reporters and photographers was not an act of devotion, but disturbing exploitation. Two young boys, Beau and Hunter, who had lost their mother could have used some privacy while they recovered. Instead, Biden dragged them into the spotlight in a public relations bid.
In death, Biden exploited Beau even harder than he had in life. After his son’s death, Biden contemplated building an entire political campaign around his dead son.
A few months after Beau’s death, Biden told New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd that Beau had begged him to run against Hillary because “the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.” Beau not only conveniently framed his plea to his father in the form of a campaign slogan, but also an attack on Hillary Clinton that she could not possibly rebut. What was she going to do? Attack Biden’s dead son?
As a Politico story noted, “Biden has told the Beau story to others. Sometimes details change — the setting, the exact words.” That tends to happen with stories that are made up.
What kind of man would put an attack ad in his dead son’s mouth?
The same kind of man who would take a wounded boy lying on a hospital bed who had just lost his mother and drag him in front of the cameras for a 30 second story on the evening news.
But that’s the thing about Joe Biden. As bad as you think he may be, he’s even worse.
“It’s near insulting to Beau’s legacy to think that his last moments were politically driven,” a close friend of Beau’s told a local paper. “His dying wish would not be driven by politics. It would be driven by his concern of family.” But Biden is always all about politics and all about himself.
There is a fine line between grief and exploitation. In 2015, Joe Biden didn’t just step over it, he rode a parade float over it. He didn’t just give a stream of interviews about Beau’s death in dignified settings like the CBS Late Show with Stephen Colbert, but tied it to a presidential run.
A Draft Biden ad featured not only Beau, but Joe Biden’s first wife and his first daughter under the title, My Redemption.
“Am I alone in finding this Draft Biden ad tasteless?” Obama adviser David Axelrod asked.
Biden’s first memoir slash campaign book, Promise Me, Dad, came out two years later and netted him millions. Hunter Biden’s own memoir, Beautiful Things, also takes its title from Beau Biden. Exploiting Beau’s name is a family business and it doesn’t just extend to books.
Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop had the Beau Biden Foundation sticker on it. A hospital scandal involving James Biden which wrecked rural hospitals, saw a CEO being introduced to Joe Biden by James Biden, the crooked politician’s brother, at a Beau Biden Foundation fundraiser.
Much like dragging Beau as a little boy into a political photoshoot, this wasn’t doing anything good for Beau. But Beau, in life, had not been some sort of icon. Joe Biden, like Joe Kennedy, intended to live his political legacy through Beau. A year before his death, Beau announced gubernatorial run in Delaware. There was however a terrible scandal waiting in the wings.
Robert H. Richards IV, a du Pont heir, had been accused of sexually assaulting his 3-year-old daughter. Instead of being put away for 20 years, he spent no time in prison and ended up paying a fine after Beau Biden’s office recommended that he get off with probation.
Whether Beau Biden’s political ambitions or those of his father played a role no one will ever know for sure.
But it’s understandable that Beau Biden didn’t want to step on the toes of the DuPont family.
Beau grew up in the former du Pont mansion that Joe Biden managed to buy for six figures after being elected to the Senate. Joe Biden’s first Senate campaign was staffed with DuPont employees, he regularly helped the company, and received donations from its executives.
Beau Biden had made his name claiming to fight for children. The full name of the Beau Biden Foundation is the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children and sells workshops and training programs for fighting the exploitation of children. Little has changed even after allegations emerged about Hunter Biden’s possibly inappropriate behavior with girls.
Beau claimed that he gave Richards a slap on the wrist over a 3-year-old girl because it wasn’t a “strong case”, but many in the media saw echoes of Jeffrey Epstein. Especially when Judge Jan Jurden gave Richards a pass because he would “not fare well” in prison.
Judge Jan Jurden, a Democrat, has since been elevated to President Judge of the Superior Court of Delaware. Beau might have been governor and then, perhaps, president. But, more likely, the child abuse scandal would have dragged him down long before that instead.
Beau, sick,and then dead, was far more useful to his father than a failed political candidate with a scandal who couldn’t make it to the governorship even with his father’s name at his back.
Just as when he had been the sick little boy in the hospital, a sick Beau was much more of an asset. And dead, his father could run on his name. Maybe that was the real lesson that Beau and Hunter learned when Joe brought in the photographers at the hospital. That they were worth more to their father when they were sick and broken than when they were well.
And maybe Beau and Hunter both internalized that horrible lesson in different ways.
There’s no way to know what goes on in someone else’s head. Joe Biden no doubt loved his sons in his own way. But it was a love that came with the expectation that he was entitled to use them however he pleased. That was something he had in common with Robert H. Richards IV.
And over forty years from that hospital bed, he’s still doing it.
Campaign profiles of Joe Biden played up the idea that he had grown as a candidate from suffering. But it wasn’t really his suffering. The deaths and illnesses of his family members could add a second hand martyrdom that made a narcissistic selfish politician seem more human. The more people around Joe Biden died, the less you were supposed to notice that he had no real empathy for anyone else. And that he was eager to exploit the pain and death of his family.
At his Afghanistan speeches, Biden defensively kept bringing up Beau as if his politician son who died long after serving as an Army JAG somehow excused him from accountability.
Even when he couldn’t seem to remember what Beau’s military service even consisted of.
In the Stephanopoulos interview, Biden claimed that his “deceased son Beau” had come out of Afghanistan, before correcting himself. Biden also wrongly suggested that Beau had been a Navy Captain, before correcting that too. Joe Biden can’t remember which country and which branch of the military Beau served in, but won’t stop exploiting him as a weapon against the dead and stranded Americans that he callously left behind in Afghanistan.
No one in the media was willing to call out this tawdry spectacle until Biden pulled the same routine on the family members of the Marines who had lost their lives because of him.
That doesn’t mean that Biden will stop.
The politician who used his hospitalized son as a photo op when he was a little boy recovering from the loss of his mother is not about to stop using his memory every time a scandal arrives.
Joe Biden is utterly shameless in the way that only a man with no shred of decency can be.
And the only decent thing to do would be to let Beau rest now, as he should have been allowed to rest in the hospital after his mother’s death. Biden won’t allow it and the media won’t say it.
But the rest of the country has to stop letting Biden get away with murder because he lost a son.