Tag Archives: Jill Biden

Obama should have decided to attend funeral

chapman.0830 - 08/29/05 - A Supreme Court headed by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has questions for Chapman University Law School professor John Eastman as he and California Attorney General Bill Lockyer argue the 1905 ''Lochner v. State of New York'' case during a re-enactment Monday afternoon at Chapman University. (Credit: Mark Avery/Orange County Register/ZUMA Press)

No one asked me for advice on this, but I’ll offer it unsolicited — and without reservation.

President Obama should have decided to attend the funeral this weekend for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

To me, it’s a no-brainer.

The president will not attend. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, are going to attend, as they share Scalia’s Catholic faith.

But look at it this way. The optics of seeing the president of the United States paying his respects at the funeral of someone with whom he had profound political and judicial disagreements are invaluable.

Yes, the president will attend a ceremony at the Supreme Court building to honor the late justice. He also has been quite gracious in his public comments in reaction to the shocking news of Scalia’s death while on a hunting trip in West Texas.

Indeed, some on the right have given Obama a pass on attending. Scalia’s own son even has suggested that the president made the right call by deciding against attending the justice’s funeral.

However, Obama has given his fierce critics in the conservative media ammunition now to fire at him for declining to attend the funeral. White House press officials haven’t disclosed how the president will spend Saturday while much of official Washington and the nation’s legal community is honoring the memory of Justice Scalia. My hope is that he lays low and spends it quietly.

He’s got a huge decision to make — possibly within the next few days. It involves his choice to succeed Scalia — a gigantic and booming voice for conservatives on the court. Senate Republicans don’t even want to consider an appointment. Others insist that the president make the choice. I am one of those who believes the president should fulfill his duties by selecting a nominee for the high court.

OK, so no one asked me for my opinion about the funeral. Why should they? I’m way out yonder in the political peanut gallery far from the government epicenter.

It’s just that as someone noted in the link attached to this blog post indicated, if you’re questioning whether you should go to the funeral … go to the funeral.

VP Biden suffers another shattering loss

Joe Biden’s standing among Americans has had its ups and downs.

The vice president is known as a garrulous guy, seemingly without a care in the world.

The reality, which was driven home yet again this weekend, is that he has suffered more heartache than most of us.

Vice President Biden’s son, Beau, died of a brain tumor. He was 46 years of age. He is survived by his wife and two children.

And a grieving father.


As the essay by Ezra Klein notes, Joe Biden’s own political career almost ended before it really took off. In December, before he took office in the U.S. Senate, to which he was elected, the senator-elect’s wife and daughter died in an auto accident. His two sons, Beau and Hunter, suffered serious injury. Sen.-elect Biden was just 29 at the time he was elected and would celebrate his 30th birthday before being sworn in, making him constitutionally qualified to serve in the Senate.

He wanted to quit. His friends talked him into staying the course. He took his oath next to his son Beau’s hospital bed.

Sen. Biden would marry again. Jill Biden became his children’s new “mom,” and the couple brought more children into the world together.

Klein’s essay recalls a startling speech Biden made in 2012, in which he said how he came to understand why someone would want to take their own life. They’d been “to the mountain top,” he said,  and they knew they wouldn’t ever get there again.

The vice president has been to several mountain tops in his most eventful life. As of today, though, he is suffering the level of grief that isn’t supposed to happen. He’s having to bury a child — yet again.

Oh, the strength that lies within some of us.

As Klein noted in that remarkable 2012 speech: “There will come a day – I promise you, and your parents as well – when the thought of your son or daughter, or your husband or wife, brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye,” Biden says. “It will happen.”

Mrs. Obama defends 'Sniper'

Michelle Obama has taken a stand in support of a controversial film about a heart-wrenching subject.

Good for her.

She came to the defense this week of “American Sniper,” the film about the late Navy SEAL sharpshooter Chris Kyle, saying the film deals squarely with the emotional heartache felt by combat veterans and their families.


Mrs. Obama didn’t go after some of the critics of the film directly, although she well could have done so; perhaps she should have done so. But whatever her intention, she made a salient point about the film’s theme and the emotions it has brought to those who have seen it.

She said: “I felt that, more often than not, this film touches on many of the emotions and experiences that I’ve heard firsthand from military families over these past few years.”

Indeed, she and Jill Biden, the vice president’s wife, have made the care of veterans and their families a hallmark of their tenure during the Obama administration and both of these women deserve to be applauded for the attention they have given to this important matter.

As for the criticism of the film — notably by filmmaker Michael Moore — much of it has bordered on the ridiculous. Moore, of course, referred to snipers as “cowards.” He knows nothing of which he spoke on this matter, but his comments got considerable play anyway — I suppose because of his celebrity status and his previous tangles with political conservatives over an array of other issues.

I believe the first lady has put the film in its proper perspective and that should stand as a more credible assessment of a gripping story of triumph, struggle and immense emotional heartache.


VA mess … now there's a scandal

Internal Revenue Service vetting of conservative political action groups’ claims of tax exempt status?

Pffft. Big deal.

Benghazi … Shmenghazi.

Sure, it’s a bigger deal, but it doesn’t rise to the level of “scandal.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs and allegations that it delayed veterans’ health care so long that vets actually died while waiting? Now that is a hyper-serious matter that needs to be resolved thoroughly.


Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki — a Vietnam War combat veteran and a former Army chief of staff — says he is “personally angered and saddened” by the allegations. He’d better be. Shinseki is now fighting to keep his job after the American Legion — in a rare statement of outrage — called for his resignation in light of the growing scandal.

At issue is the death of at least 40 veterans who were awaiting health care at the Phoenix, Ariz., VA hospital. Many of the vets’ names were on a secret waiting list that reportedly was designed to conceal lengthy waits that didn’t meet VA standards.

As a veteran myself who a year ago enrolled as a Veterans Administration patient at the hospital here in Amarillo, I have a number of concerns. The most notable of those concerns is whether such delays are being orchestrated at the Thomas Creek VA Medical Center in the city where I live. There was a time I wouldn’t have dared ask that question out loud, but given what has happened in Phoenix, is it possible that other such disgraceful activities are occurring across the Department of Veterans Affairs’ vast health care network?

The situation at the VA clearly is FUBAR, which in military parlance means — and this is the cleaned-up version — “fouled up beyond all recognition.”

President and Mrs. Obama have made veterans care a signature issue as the administration winds down the Afghanistan War, having already ended U.S. involvement in the Iraq War. Michelle Obama, along with Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Biden, have been champions for the cause of ensuring that our veterans receive the best health care possible.

One only can imagine what the response to this mess has been inside the West Wing of the White House, not to mention in the living quarters upstairs. I’m hoping the president has tossed some furniture around and is demanding answers to what has happened in Phoenix.

Gen. Shinseki, you have some serious explaining to do.