Biden, faced with blame for the devastation in Afghanistan, again invokes his late son


In his first address since the US’ historic and chaotic final withdrawal from Afghanistan, President Biden defended his withdrawal – even as he laid blame on President Trump and the Afghan security forces – and again brought up his late son, Beau, who died in 2015 at the age of 46 from brain cancer.  

‘I don’t think enough people understand how much we have asked of the 1% of this country who put that uniform on, willing to put their lives on the line in defense of our nation. Maybe it’s because my deceased son Beau served in Iraq for a full year.’  

‘Let me be clear. Leaving August 31 is not due to an arbitrary deadline. It was designed to save American lives,’ Biden said in his first public remarks since the final US soldier left Hamid Karzai International Airport on Monday night.

Biden has of late been thinking often of the tragic loss of his son, as is evidenced by the frequent references in his remarks. Beau wasn’t killed in combat, though the president has at times questioned whether his exposure to burn pits in Iraq had a hand in causing his cancer. 

Last week, 13 US service members were killed, and some of the Gold Star families said that they were disappointed the president kept bringing up his late son, as he tried to relate to their fresh sense of loss and devastation. 

Biden, right, talks with his son, US Army Capt. Beau Biden, left, at Camp Victory on the outskirts of Baghdad on July 4, 2009

Here are the times the president has called to mind his deceased son as he’s dealt with the Afghanistan chaos:   

Aug. 31- Remarks after troop withdrawal

‘I don’t think enough people understand how much we have asked of the 1% of this country who put that uniform on, willing to put their lives on the line in defense of our nation. Maybe it’s because my deceased son Beau served in Iraq for a full year.’

Biden was speaking after the drawdown of troop presence in Afghanistan, as Americans and allies were still stuck on the ground. He defended his decision to pull out, even as he laid blame on a peace deal struck by President Trump. 

Aug. 29- Conversations with families of slain troops

Mark Schmitz, father of 20-year-old Jared who died in the suicide bombing in Kabul,  told the Washington Post that when he met with Biden he spent much time talking about Beau.

‘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.’

Beau Biden, above, at Vice-President Joe Biden's second swearing-in ceremony during the 57th Presidential Inauguration ceremonial swearing-in at the US Capitol on January 21, 2013

Beau Biden, above, at Vice-President Joe Biden’s second swearing-in ceremony during the 57th Presidential Inauguration ceremonial swearing-in at the US Capitol on January 21, 2013

Flag-draped coffins of service members killed in action are loaded onto a transport aircraft during a ramp ceremony at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan August 27

Flag-draped coffins of service members killed in action are loaded onto a transport aircraft during a ramp ceremony at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan August 27

Families of the fallen U.S. service members were left disappointed by Joe Biden at the dignified transfer on Sunday. One sister of a fallen Marine yelled at the president: 'I hope you burn in hell! That was my brother!'

Families of the fallen U.S. service members were left disappointed by Joe Biden at the dignified transfer on Sunday. One sister of a fallen Marine yelled at the president: ‘I hope you burn in hell! That was my brother!’

Aug. 29- Biden checks his wrist at dignified transfer ceremony

As the bodies of slain US troops were delivered home in Dover, Delaware Sunday, the president was said to have ‘checked his watch’ each time a flag-draped casket was removed from the Air Force C-17. 

‘They would release the salute and he looked down at his watch on every last one,’ Hoover said. ‘All 13, he looked down at his watch.’

Biden wear’s his late son Beau’s rosary on his wrist just above his watch, and the president’s supporters have said he was looking at the rosary rather than checking the time. 

President Joe Biden is under fire for looking at his watch during Sunday's 'dignified transfer' onto American soil of the 13 American troops killed in Thursday's Kabul suicide bomb attack

President Joe Biden is under fire for looking at his watch during Sunday’s ‘dignified transfer’ onto American soil of the 13 American troops killed in Thursday’s Kabul suicide bomb attack 

Aug. 26- Remarks after terror attack

 ‘Being the father of an Army major who served for a year in Iraq and, before that, was in Kosovo as a U.S. attorney for the better part of six months in the middle of a war — when he came home after a year in Iraq, he was diagnosed, like many, many coming home, with an aggressive and lethal cancer of the brain — who we lost. 

We have some sense, like many of you do, what the families of these brave heroes are feeling today. You get this feeling like you’re being sucked into a black hole in the middle of your chest; there’s no way out. My heart aches for you.

Biden was speaking after a terrorist attack in Kabul killed 170, including 13 US troops  who were trying to help Americans and allies escape from Taliban rule. 

 Aug. 20- Remarks on the evacuation 

‘Whenever I deploy our troops into harm’s way, I take that responsibility seriously. I carry that burden every day, just as I did when I was Vice President and my son was deployed to Iraq for a year,’ Biden said, explaining his decision to leave.

Later, he pointed to the Trump-era peace deal that promised US troops would be out by May 1. ‘The idea that if I had said on May the 2nd or 3rd, ‘We are not leaving; we are staying’ — does anybody truly believe that I would not have had to put in significantly more American forces — send your sons, your daughters — like my son was sent to Iraq — to maybe die? And for what? For what?’

Aug. 19- Interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos 

In Biden’s first interview as chaos unfolded and the Taliban took over with lightning-fast speed, Stephanopoulos asked what the president would say to those who took issue with his strategy for withdrawal. 

‘I think a lot of Americans, and even a lot of veterans who served in Afghanistan agree with you on the big, strategic picture. They believe we had to get out. But I wonder how you respond to an Army Special Forces officer, Javier McKay (PH). He did seven tours. He was shot twice. He agrees with you. He says, ‘We have to cut our losses in Afghanistan.’ But he adds, ‘I just wish we could’ve left with honor.” Stephanopoulos said.   

‘Look, that’s like askin’ my deceased son Beau, who spent six months in Kosovo and a year in Iraq as a Navy captain and then major– I mean, as an Army major. And, you know, I’m sure h– he had regrets comin’ out of Afganista– I mean, out of Iraq.

He had regrets to what’s– how– how it’s going. But the idea– what’s the alternative? The alternative is why are we staying in Afghanistan? Why are we there? Don’t you think that the one– you know who’s most disappointed in us getting out? Russia and China,’ Biden replied.

July 4- Independence Day celebration remarks 

On the July 4 holiday Biden was sure to reference his son as he thanked US troops for their service. 

‘Like so many military families, thinking of loved ones who served, we think of our son Beau today,’ Biden said. ‘You’re all part of a long chain of patriots who pledged their lives and their sacred honor in defense of this nation and democracy around the world. For freedom and fair play, for peace and security and opportunity. For the cause of justice, for the soul of America itself.’



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