When George Bush was president, parents of armed service members killed in Iraq received special attention from the media if they denounced the war and criticized Bush. Cindy Sheehan gained a huge profile for bitterly attacking Bush after her son was killed. Eventually, she became a fringe figure, to put it as politely as I can, but this was only after Barack Obama succeeded Bush.
Before then, the mantra on the left, first recited by Maureen Dowd, was that “the moral authority of parents who bury children killed in Iraq is absolute.” But this was nonsense.
Like all Americans, such parents have the right to speak out about Americas wars. And given the sacrifice of their sons or daughters, they should be listened to when they speak.
But “absolute moral authority”? No.
The idea of such authority falls of it own weight because parents who buried children killed in Iraq had differing views about that conflict. To give Cindy Sheehan absolute moral authority would negate the moral authority of parents who favored our military’s presence there.
Again, though, all Gold Star parents should be heard.
What do the parents and loved ones of the 13 Americans who died at Kabul airport think of Joe Biden and his Afghanistan policy? According to the Washington Post:
Family members of at least six of the 13 U.S. service members killed in the Aug. 26 attack in Kabul have been publicly critical of Biden. Some declined to meet with Biden when he attempted to console them as the bodies arrived at Dover Air Force Base. Some of those who did said they were put off by the amount of time Biden spent talking about his son Beau, who served in Iraq and later died of brain cancer.
Biden apparently has taken the criticism with his characteristic lack of class;
Shana Chappell, the mother of Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, 20, who was killed in the attack. . .recounted meeting with Biden at Dover, with him attempting to console her and her telling him he had no idea how she felt. At one point, by her account, Biden grew visibly annoyed and began walking away.
Criticism of George Bush by family members of service members who died in Iraq was sporadic. In Biden’s case, it approaches, if not exceeds, a majority of those killed at the Kabul airport.
And no wonder. Congress authorized the war in Iraq and that war overthrew an evil, terrorist-supporting regime.
Congress didn’t authorize the withdrawal from Afghanistan and would never have authorized, nor would the American public have supported, a withdrawal carried out as Biden executed it. The 13 died after hurrying to Kabul to help evacuate Americans and their allies. They had to hurry into Kabul for this purpose because Biden had foolishly pulled the military out before Americans had been evacuated.
Moreover, unlike American soldiers who died in the Iraq war, these American soldiers weren’t fighting against evil terrorists and their supporters. They were in Afghanistan to mop up the spillage from a decision to allow evil terrorist supporters to return to power.
Donald Trump has reached out to family members who shunned Biden or found his attempts to console them for their loss in Kabul unsatisfactory. His enemies will say that Trump has “pounced,” and in a sense I suppose he has.
But these family members deserve to be consoled by a leader they like, or at least respect. In many cases, that leader is Trump, not Biden.
Darin Hoover, father of a Marine killed in Kabul, said of his phone conversation with Trump:
It was just very cordial, very understanding. He was awesome. He was just talking about the finest of the finest. He said he heard and saw everything that we had said, and he offered his condolences several times, and how sorry he was.
Similarly, Mark Schmitz, whose son was also among the Marines killed, said he was grateful for Trump’s call and got “much more satisfaction or a sense of compassion” speaking with Trump than he did with Biden.
To be fair, when Trump was president a small number of Gold Star parents criticized the way in which he tried to console them. These days, how a parent felt about a president before losing an offspring might well influence how the parent feels about the president’s attempt at consolation.
But the high percentage of negative reviews Biden received suggests that this wasn’t the only dynamic at work. The shockingly botched nature of the Afghanistan pullout along, perhaps, with Biden’s insistence on talking about himself and his son, must have been a factor.
The parents who criticized Biden don’t have “absolute moral authority,” but they know what they’re talking about.