The Fallen, The Ceremony, And The Campaign

Steve Delaney
On August 6th in 2011, a Chinook helicopter was shot down over Wardak Province in Afghanistan, killing all 38 aboard. Among the dead were 30 US troops, 25 of whom were Navy SEALs. This well-publicized slaughter came on the heels of the triumphant news from three months earlier that Navy SEALs had successfully eliminated Osama Bin Laden.

The following Tuesday, at Dover Air Force Base, there was a solemn paying of respects by the president, who discretely boarded each of the two C-17s containing the remains of the fallen heroes. His motorcade then proceeded to a nearby building wherein about 250 friends and family of the dearly departed awaited. President Barack Obama spent over an hour expressing his condolences to those who gathered.

Thirteen months later, while the United States was observing the anniversary of the September 11th attacks, the world bore witness to the commencement of coordinated attacks on U.S. facilities in several countries -- ongoing as of this writing. At our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were murdered by the attacking mob of savages.

Three days later, as Ambassador Stevens and the other three who died with him were brought home, the president traveled once more to meet with a C-17 bearing fallen heroes, this time at Joint Base Andrews. Vice President Biden, Secretary of Defense Panetta, and Secretary of State Clinton were also on hand. Also present were the press, there to capture and report the moving words spoken to the assembled, as flag-adorned coffins flanked a podium decorated with the Seal of the President of the United States.

Speculation is a dangerous pastime. But I am unable to keep my mind from wondering about the difference between the two commemorations.  Surely every human life is a universe unto itself; to those who loved them, the passing of four is no less grievous than is the passing of thirty. But what was the reason behind the markedly increased public nature of the president's eulogizing? Why do thirty dearly departed get such a muted recognition compared to four? Rules at Andrews versus rules at Dover? Active duty combat troops versus diplomatic personnel? Wishes of the surviving family? Day of the week?

Or could it be the obvious: President Obama's foreign policy is unraveling in a spectacular display. The folly of his underestimation of our enemy is glaring for all to see. Where he saw envy, our enemy is manifestly a spiritual ideology of hatred. Where he sees an extended olive branch to those who would emulate our ways if only given the chance, we now witness our reputation as a military pushover becoming an open door to those who would spill our blood. And where he sees only good faith confirmations of his view that our suffering at the hands of Muslim extremists is invited by our chauvinistic imperialism, and can be absolved by his agenda to level the playing field, we confront the truth that promises from fascistic Islamists are ruses and subterfuges to catch us unprepared. To speak firmly to murderers at a ceremony for fallen heroes projects a suitably resolved image for those among his supporters who still believe that an important function of government is the military protection of its people.

Whatever the exact circumstances behind the disparate commemorations, it is rational to reason that, rather than strictly honoring the fallen, President Obama's behavior the Friday after September 11th 2012 was the same behavior it has always been: a politician campaigning for the preservation of his station in government.

On August 6th in 2011, a Chinook helicopter was shot down over Wardak Province in Afghanistan, killing all 38 aboard. Among the dead were 30 US troops, 25 of whom were Navy SEALs. This well-publicized slaughter came on the heels of the triumphant news from three months earlier that Navy SEALs had successfully eliminated Osama Bin Laden.

The following Tuesday, at Dover Air Force Base, there was a solemn paying of respects by the president, who discretely boarded each of the two C-17s containing the remains of the fallen heroes. His motorcade then proceeded to a nearby building wherein about 250 friends and family of the dearly departed awaited. President Barack Obama spent over an hour expressing his condolences to those who gathered.

Thirteen months later, while the United States was observing the anniversary of the September 11th attacks, the world bore witness to the commencement of coordinated attacks on U.S. facilities in several countries -- ongoing as of this writing. At our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were murdered by the attacking mob of savages.

Three days later, as Ambassador Stevens and the other three who died with him were brought home, the president traveled once more to meet with a C-17 bearing fallen heroes, this time at Joint Base Andrews. Vice President Biden, Secretary of Defense Panetta, and Secretary of State Clinton were also on hand. Also present were the press, there to capture and report the moving words spoken to the assembled, as flag-adorned coffins flanked a podium decorated with the Seal of the President of the United States.

Speculation is a dangerous pastime. But I am unable to keep my mind from wondering about the difference between the two commemorations.  Surely every human life is a universe unto itself; to those who loved them, the passing of four is no less grievous than is the passing of thirty. But what was the reason behind the markedly increased public nature of the president's eulogizing? Why do thirty dearly departed get such a muted recognition compared to four? Rules at Andrews versus rules at Dover? Active duty combat troops versus diplomatic personnel? Wishes of the surviving family? Day of the week?

Or could it be the obvious: President Obama's foreign policy is unraveling in a spectacular display. The folly of his underestimation of our enemy is glaring for all to see. Where he saw envy, our enemy is manifestly a spiritual ideology of hatred. Where he sees an extended olive branch to those who would emulate our ways if only given the chance, we now witness our reputation as a military pushover becoming an open door to those who would spill our blood. And where he sees only good faith confirmations of his view that our suffering at the hands of Muslim extremists is invited by our chauvinistic imperialism, and can be absolved by his agenda to level the playing field, we confront the truth that promises from fascistic Islamists are ruses and subterfuges to catch us unprepared. To speak firmly to murderers at a ceremony for fallen heroes projects a suitably resolved image for those among his supporters who still believe that an important function of government is the military protection of its people.

Whatever the exact circumstances behind the disparate commemorations, it is rational to reason that, rather than strictly honoring the fallen, President Obama's behavior the Friday after September 11th 2012 was the same behavior it has always been: a politician campaigning for the preservation of his station in government.