On Sunday — three days after explosions wreaked havoc outside of Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai International Airport — President Joe Biden flew to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to receive the flag-draped remains of the 13 U.S. service members killed in the attack.
Before receiving these heroes who had returned home at last, Biden decided to meet with their families.
In at least one aspect, though, it blew up in his face, when most members of a Gold Star family walked out on him before they could even exchange a word.
The development was buried deep in an article in The Washington Post that bore a headline that would never let a cursory reader know the presidential embarrassment had even happened: “Biden meets with families of service members killed in Kabul as U.S. races to exit Afghanistan.”
The article pressed the urgency of the swiftly approaching Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline and labeled Biden’s Afghanistan pullout a “tragedy,” rounded off with “tumult and growing anger with his stewardship.”
Though we should all be outraged by what this withdrawal has become, by what we’re seeing, not many — if anyone at all — has as much right to be outraged as the families who grieve for their lost loved ones, their (and our) fallen heroes.
Jiennah McCollum, the expectant wife of 20-year-old Marine Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, who died in Thursday’s suicide bombing in Kabul, awaited the “dignified transfer of remains” with two of her sisters-in-law and her father-in-law, Rylee’s sister Roice told the Post.
Jiennah, according to the Post, is expected to deliver her child next month. She was the only one in the family who met the president.
The rest, according to the Post, left the room when it was time to meet Biden — taking the dramatic action because “they did not want to speak with the man they held responsible for McCollum’s death.”
The Marine’s mother, Kathy McCollum, has already made headlines voicing her fury with Biden.
Roice told the Post that Jiennah left the room disappointed after speaking with Biden.
A Biden meeting w/ the pregnant widow of one of the dead Marines didn’t go well
“It struck the family as scripted and shallow, a conversation that lasted only a couple of minutes..”https://t.co/XTYDG5saMV pic.twitter.com/LxDyoZrXy4
— Alex Thompson (@AlexThomp) August 30, 2021
Biden shared the story of his son Beau with her, recapturing his military service and his succumbing to cancer, Roice said.
The Post reported that the McCollums found Biden’s words “scripted and shallow, a conversation that lasted only a couple of minutes in ‘total disregard to the loss of our Marine,'” in Roice’s words.
“You can’t f— up as bad as he did and say you’re sorry,” Roice told the Post.
“This did not need to happen, and every life is on his hands.”
The same Post article described the emotions of Gold Star mother Paula Knauss, who shared the reactions she felt while watching the remains of her son, Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, being received at the service on television.
There was understandable pride in her son, of course. And heartbreak at his loss.
But there was also, as the Post delicately paraphrased it, “disappointment over what Knauss deemed a lack of leadership and protection for the service members in Afghanistan.”
“You can’t have a hasty withdrawal after 20 years of war,” Knauss said, according to the Post.
“Because it’s beyond me. It disgraces the name of all those who have fought in the past and who are now on ground, foreign ground. fighting right now. My son’s [82nd] Airborne is still there, and they deserve to be protected.”
Despite the blame for an inept withdrawal mounting on his shoulders, Biden has notoriously deflected responsibility onto everyone else — such as the Afghan security forces — while maintaining his decision was was correct.
We grieve for (and with) these families, knowing America has lost 13 of its most valiant and selfless.
They fulfilled their duty to the end of the line — and no incompetent leadership can take that from them.
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