The President Had Somewhere Important to Be

Credit: Getty Images

by James C. Sherlock

The caption of the photo:

“US President Joe Biden looks down alongside First Lady Jill Biden as they attend the dignified transfer of the remains of a fallen service member at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware, August, 29, 2021, one of the 13 members of the US military killed in Afghanistan last week.”

I watched.  I am sure I had lots of company.

  • Virginia Veterans — nearly 730,215 — one out of 10 adults.
  • Virginia active duty (89,303) and reserve military (25,977) = 115,280
  • Virginia Army National Guard 7,500 soldiers and 46 armories
  • Virginia Air National Guard 192nd Fighter Wing at Langley AFB Hampton – approximately 200.

In an unblinking story for The Washington Post, Matt Viser exposed a failure of leadership and understanding of the moment that was a direct insult to all Americans.

The President was there to representing us all. He shamed us.

For Biden, it was all about his son Beau, a military lawyer that served in Afghanistan. From the Post:

“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 (the father of one of those killed) 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.”

“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.’ ”

Whatever the appointment was for which Biden constantly checked his watch, not just on the tarmac but, unbelievably, during conversations with the the families of the fallen, it must have been very important.

“Some of the grieving relatives felt a need to interact directly with the president after losing their loved one, including Jiennah McCollum, who married Rylee McCollum just six months ago and is due to give birth to the couple’s child next month.”

“Gigi wanted to look him in the eye and hear him,” McCollum’s sister Roice said in a text message to The Washington Post, using Jiennah’s nickname.”

“Roice recounted that Jiennah left disappointed. The president, she said, kept checking his watch and bringing up Beau.”

Farewell wishes.

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.

Dear God.