Two years after a suicide bombing in Kabul took the lives of 13 American service members during the Biden administration’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, the mother of 20-year-old Marine Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola, who was killed in the attack, blasted the president for falsely claiming to “know how” it felt to lose a child in combat.
“His words to me were, ‘My wife, Jill, and I know how you feel. We lost our son as well and brought him home in a flag-draped coffin,'” Cheryl Rex recalled. “My heart started beating faster and I started shaking, knowing that their son died from cancer and they were able to be by his side — also wondering how someone could honestly be so heartless to say he knew how I felt a little over 24 hours [after] learning of my son’s death.”
A few days prior, Marine Sgt. Tyler Vargas-Andrews, who was injured in the same attack that killed Merola, recounted Biden’s “weird” visit as he was recovering in the hospital.
Vargas-Andrews had lost his right arm in the attack and his left arm was in a cast, but Biden still tried to shake his hand for the cameras, he recalled. Then, Vargas-Andrews added, Biden “almost immediately starts talking about how their son served in the military, doesn’t say anything about what happened,” before leaning in to bizarrely ask the bedridden veteran, “What do you want?”
Beau Biden, the president’s oldest son, died of brain cancer in 2015 at age 46. He deployed to Iraq with the Deleware National Guard in 2008, before going on to serve a second term as Delaware attorney general from 2011 to 2015. He suffered what doctors diagnosed as a “mild stroke” in 2010, and an “episode of disorientation and weakness” in 2013 led to an operation to remove “a small lesion from his brain.” After two years of remission, he succumbed to cancer at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland surrounded by family.
“His family surrounding him, everyone holding onto him, each of us desperately, desperately holding him, each of us whispering ‘I love you, I love you, I love you.’ I held his hand, and he took his last breath,” recalled the other Biden son, Hunter.
Such a touching moment is a blessing Gold Star families never get. Instead of saying gentle goodbyes at their loved one’s side, they endure the anguish of imagining their child, spouse, or parent’s last moments in a foreign corner of the world, unable to exchange final words and gestures of comfort. Sometimes they are denied even a last look at their loved one’s face — or they see in it the scars of a violent and excruciating death. The families of the brave men and women who die fighting for our country bear a kind of grief and honor that we, the beneficiaries of their sacrifices, should not dare usurp.
Of all people, the president who at least nominally commands our troops should recognize that service members and their families, not he, are the heroes of their sacrifices. Yet President Biden has a disgusting habit of making moments when he should be offering comfort and gratitude to those selfless Americans about himself instead.
Mark Schmitz, whose 20-year-old son Jared was also killed in the Kabul attack two Augusts ago, told The Washington Post in 2021 that when he met Biden afterward he was frustrated that Biden focused on Beau rather than on taking responsibility for his role in the Afghanistan withdrawal chaos that surrounded Jared’s death. “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,” he said. “It just didn’t seem that appropriate to spend that much time on his own son.”
Likewise, the widow of 20-year-old Marine Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum was “disappointed” by her visit from the president, who “kept checking his watch and bringing up Beau.” McCollum’s sister Cheyenne told Fox News that Biden talked about Beau for his entire three-minute conversation with them, and said she “was able to stand about 15 seconds of his fake, scripted apology and I had to walk away.”
In a Facebook post, the mother of Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui — another who was killed in the Kabul attack, and also only 20 years old — addressed her frustrations to the president after meeting with him. “You tried to interrupt me and give me your own sob story and I had to tell you, ‘This isn’t about you so don’t make it about you!’” she wrote.
The impression Biden made on the families of those killed in the bombing was so sour that even The Washington Post admitted his talk about Beau “at times seemed to fall flat on this occasion.” Since then, he’s doubled down on the lie.
Earlier this year, Biden told U.S. Marines in Japan, “My son was a major in the U.S. Army. We lost him in Iraq.” In 2022, he told a Florida audience, “I’m thinking about Iraq because that’s where my son died,” a few weeks after claiming in Colorado that Beau “lost his life in Iraq.”
There’s nothing wrong with Joe Biden expressing grief about his son’s tragically young death or mentioning his son’s yearlong deployment. But using the grief of families whose loved ones have died on foreign battlefields to gain cheap political points — or simply indulge in cruel self-centeredness — is low, even for the president who appears to have traded political favors at home for foreign bribe money.
Unsurprisingly, the corporate media creep out of the woodwork to gently reprimand Biden’s callous treatment of Gold Star families only when his most egregious comments are impossible to ignore.
For example: When multiple families of the service members killed in Kabul in August 2021 publicly blasted Biden for his uncaring obsession with name-dropping Beau in his conversations with them, The New York Times’ coverage of their criticism included lines like these:
“Invoking Beau’s memory amid the violent collapse of Afghanistan … provided a rare moment for critics to pounce on a penchant for eulogizing his son.”
“…the moment crystallized just how much Mr. Biden is still haunted by the memory of a son he had always described to confidants as ‘me, but without all the downsides,’ and how his anguish over that loss can clash with the political realities of being president.”
“The general thinking among Mr. Biden’s supporters is that he is a welcome change from President Donald J. Trump, who was almost always publicly unable to express empathy. They believe Mr. Biden is the right president for this moment in history…”
Even the marginally less fawning coverage from The Washington Post mildly summed up Biden’s lack of basic decency as a “tough meeting with grieving relatives.”
If you look very closely, you might be able to discern a difference between the press coverage of Biden’s repeated attempts to make military families’ grief all about himself, and the media freakout that followed an anonymously sourced Atlantic story accusing Trump of referring to slain American troops as “suckers” and “losers” — a story which was “refuted by dozens of on-the-record sources and contemporaneous government evidence.”
In the meantime, Biden will continue to hijack the sacrifices of Gold Star families so he can talk about himself.