Skip

That smile will come, sooner or later. But I promise you, it will come.
May 26, 2012 5:59 PM   Subscribe

For Memorial Day weekend, at TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors), Vice President Joe Biden talks about grief, and loss, and how "there will come a day, I promise you, and you 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."
posted by Guy Smiley (58 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
God bless our troops and their families.
posted by BobbyVan at 6:05 PM on May 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bring them home.
posted by mollweide at 6:16 PM on May 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


not bad jobi
posted by the theory of revolution at 6:17 PM on May 26, 2012


If anyone has standing to speak on dealing with tragedy, it's Joe Biden.
posted by orange swan at 6:23 PM on May 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


It's easy to write off Biden as a buffoon, but when you consider the sheer awfulness of losing a wife and daughter, and how he's managed to not only rebuild his life but have a successful political career, you can't help but admire him.

You also have to appreciate his relatively unguarded manner. It often gets him in trouble, but in the context of talking to veterans about coping with death and loss, it's a godsend. I can't think of another politician of his stature that could be so open of this sort of thing.
posted by Cash4Lead at 6:25 PM on May 26, 2012 [41 favorites]


What has happened to Joe "A Gaff Every Day" Biden? It's like he's suddenly become someone else entirely.

Good for him. I'm glad to see him establishing himself as a respected figure in his own right, and this is an incredible speech.

Thanks for posting!
posted by hippybear at 6:26 PM on May 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


Cash4Lead: "It's easy to write off Biden as a buffoon ..."

I agree -- I think people misread him. It's not that he's a dumbass who can't stay on script. It's that he doesn't give a shit about the script.
posted by secretseasons at 6:28 PM on May 26, 2012 [82 favorites]


...there will come a day, I promise you, and you 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.
I hope so.
posted by Kevin Street at 6:37 PM on May 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


Bring them home.

And fund the VA (and/or Medicare For All).
posted by DU at 6:37 PM on May 26, 2012 [16 favorites]


True words, Joe. True words. It helps to have them said aloud like that.

Thank you.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:44 PM on May 26, 2012


Without a doubt, DU.
posted by mollweide at 6:45 PM on May 26, 2012


He is bringing forward a sentiment that is often quite difficult for survivors to hear. You wonder how could anyone keep going when you've lost someone you dearly love.

I'm at year 7 and can only now bring myself to look at simple pictures without immediate fear of catastrophic breakdown. For each survivor the emotion is different but it is worth hearing from someone who has truly lived a similar grief. Good words of truth.
posted by mightshould at 6:45 PM on May 26, 2012 [11 favorites]


It's amazing to me that he got through that speech. He's got some bendable steel in that spine.

It's been 9 years for me this October. That's some powerful stuff, Biden.
posted by thanotopsis at 7:23 PM on May 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wow, that was impressive. I had no idea.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:28 PM on May 26, 2012


My goodness. I don't know that I've ever seen something that genuine and true from a politician. My aunt and uncle lost their girl almost ten years ago, and I don't really know how they survived it.
posted by Mavri at 7:37 PM on May 26, 2012


Oh wow. That was just extraordinary.
posted by deadmessenger at 7:51 PM on May 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think he nailed it. The anger, the guilt, the triggers - he truly understands my loss. It really comforts me that this man has an influence on how the administration views the military.
posted by figment of my conation at 7:57 PM on May 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Biden's never been a buffoon--he's got a gift of gab that sometimes gets him in trouble. But he always has something interesting to say. We the media have made him a caricature, as predictable and as foolish as, say, writing about the Kennedy curse.

Even knowing that key line was coming, it made me choke up.
posted by etaoin at 8:18 PM on May 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


A little more - from the DoD site, Survivors of Fallen Share Memories, Understanding.
posted by Guy Smiley at 8:48 PM on May 26, 2012


Cash4Lead: "It's easy to write off Biden as a buffoon"

Only if you take the easy route of buying into the media-created cliche, instead of doing the hard, hard work of actually reporting the news and/or commenting on the news.

Ford wasn't clumsy, Howard Dean wasn't a crazy screamer, and Biden isn't gaffe-prone - at least, not any more than any other politician (and for proof, count how many times this year Romney has made gaffes about the poor, versus Biden's 2012 gaffe count - and Biden has less reason to watch every word coming out of his mouth).
posted by IAmBroom at 9:01 PM on May 26, 2012 [11 favorites]


He seems like an alright guy.

I'll just piggy back on this to mention that Canadians can help military families in times of crisis or hardship by contributing to the Military Families Fund.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:10 PM on May 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


What has happened to Joe "A Gaff Every Day" Biden? It's like he's suddenly become someone else entirely.
It was more like a "a Gaff a Month", except that's all the media covered of him because it's easier and cheaper to cover politics as if it was the WWF as opposed to covering reality.
posted by delmoi at 11:06 PM on May 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


That speech was really moving. I agree with the "it's not that he's a dumbass who can't stay on script, it's that he doesn't give a shit about the script" assessment. At one point he says he's going to say something he probably shouldn't given that the media is there, and the crowd laughs expecting some sort of funny gaffe, and he says, no he's going to say it at whatever cost because they are more important than in effect his own reputation. (And then he said that it wasn't until his loss that he could really understand someone wanting to commit suicide.) Anyway, I thought that was a remarkable, heartfelt speech. Thanks for posting.
posted by onlyconnect at 11:37 PM on May 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


I normally don't have the attention span to watch a 20 minute YouTube video that doesn't involve kittens but I watched every minute of this. Very powerful. Thanks for posting.
posted by desjardins at 12:03 AM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I too was truly impressed by Biden.

I lost my son 22 years ago, and I don't believe I've heard anyone communicate those feelings so eloquently and with such understanding.

Peace to all...
posted by HuronBob at 2:58 AM on May 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Biden's losses are my nightmare. If I lost my wife and child, I don't think I would have the strength to try, let alone become a senator and VP.
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:07 AM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Biden is a throwback to a kind of Irish man of words we are all poorer for having lost in public life. I have always liked him. He isn't gaffe prone. He's eloquent. We just live in times where that counts for less than it used to, and where face to face, know-your-constituents, all-politics-is-local has been taken over by the mass mediated postmodern juggernaut of simulated authenticity.

Frankly, he is the only major political figure I would *actually* "want to have a beer with," or 5 or 6. An actual good man, who actually cares about common people because he sees himself as one of us.

Fuck the h8rs and media phonies who rag on him. None of them are worthy to shine his shoes.

And if Obama dropped him from the ticket for anyone, including HRC, that would be the end of my financial support to his campaign.
posted by spitbull at 5:54 AM on May 27, 2012 [13 favorites]


And then he said that it wasn't until his loss that he could really understand someone wanting to commit suicide
Waiting for Fox News: Biden contemplated suicide! Shouldn't Obama resign?

posted by etaoin at 6:03 AM on May 27, 2012


Let's not forget that he's part of the sending-folks-to-die apparatus and thus a major hypocrite, here, regardless of how moving, or even helpful, this speech is.
posted by kengraham at 6:31 AM on May 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Let's not forget that he's part of the sending-folks-to-die apparatus and thus a major hypocrite, here, regardless of how moving, or even helpful, this speech is.

It is possible to think a loss is simultaneously horrific and necessary. He may be wrong on policy, but grieving loss while supporting military action doesn't make him a hypocrite.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:47 AM on May 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


So the myths prevail. Our wars are always noble, fought for the purest of motives. Our warriors are similarly noble, engaged in a high-minded crusade. They butcher and slaughter, and are butchered and slaughtered themselves, so that "civilization" might be preserved. Never mind that many of the warriors themselves would not agree. Never mind that the front-line soldiers know that war is insanity, and only insanity. Never mind the overwhelming, senseless, futile, endless horror of what actually happens in combat, and the details that never reach the public.
posted by Trurl at 7:07 AM on May 27, 2012


Let's not forget that he's part of the sending-folks-to-die apparatus and thus a major hypocrite, here, regardless of how moving, or even helpful, this speech is.

So, let's never be openly sorry for any harm we have complicity in causing, lest we be labeled hypocrites? What kind of ethical principle is that?
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:13 AM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, on Memorial Day, "never mind" that stuff would be goddamn appropriate unless you think protesting war in general will bring back the dead.

Christ.
posted by spitbull at 7:13 AM on May 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


As he says:

If we were genuinely concerned with honoring those who have died in war, we would make it our sacred task to eradicate the causes of war.

More protesting war in general - and insistence on the realities of butchered bodies and minds it creates - might have resulted in a few of the people you're remembering today being alive instead.

But then...

For the state and its enablers, the war dead are props used to purify and sanctify the ongoing and future campaigns of slaughter, in an endless procession of slaughters throughout history. The war dead are especially useful, since they have been rendered forever mute; they are unable to tell us the truth of what they endured, or about the lies for which they died.
posted by Trurl at 7:31 AM on May 27, 2012


So, let's never be openly sorry for any harm we have complicity in causing, lest we be labeled hypocrites? What kind of ethical principle is that?

The principle in question is: if someone has spent enormous effort and money to attain a high position in an organization which that person know to wantonly cause unnecessary suffering, then that person is first and foremost someone who endorses unnecessary suffering, and his or her words should always be interpreted through that lens.

Maybe he can make a nice speech to some drone war survivors, too.
posted by kengraham at 7:36 AM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


if someone has spent enormous effort and money to attain a high position in an organization which that person know to wantonly cause unnecessary suffering

Surely there is more likelihood of changing things from the inside than as an outside?
posted by anadem at 7:56 AM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm agreeable until the first and foremost part. The position you're taking would suggest that each and every person who votes for any President is also "endorsing unnecessary suffering," and that the holiday itself is a travesty. We're all intolerable hypocrites, for wanting to honor and comfort those who have lost family, or finding such observances touching, if we've voted for the men and women who sent them to war. Or perhaps even by allowing such wars to be launched in our names.

Your position also ignores the whole political bit that would require someone who wants to end "unnecessary suffering" to "spend enormous effort and money" to "attain a high position" if they actually want to make a goddamned difference.

That last bit is just inflammatory, and I'm not sure what it's supposed to mean.

What are you calling for? World pacifism, or else unapologetic brutality on the part of politicians?

Sorry, but I find taking this simplistic of a view on a day meant to honor people who have actually died, rather than people who simply make a lot of noise about it on the Internet, kind of offensive in and of itself. Our wars may be fought for the wrong reasons, and to advance the wrong interests, but the dead still deserve to be mourned.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:01 AM on May 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


Snuffleupagus has it exacty right. Further, I've been struck by the sheer vehemence of the demand that we honor not only the dead but all "heroes" of the military, all over the Internet lately. It is obnoxious and off point and not a little sickening to read. I do not believe that the US military is protecting "our freedoms" in Iraq and Afghanistan (and when did that become plural, anyway?) Nonetheless, I appreciate the loss of the dead in all wars.
posted by etaoin at 8:16 AM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


The position you're taking would suggest that each and every person who votes for any President is also "endorsing unnecessary suffering,"

No; one could imagine a candidate whose platform included a categorical refusal to enforce policy resulting in unnecessary suffering. Voting for such a candidate would not constitute endorsement of unnecessary suffering, even if the candidate reneged on their promise, because someone who votes surely assumes their candidates campaign statements are made in good faith. Otherwise, one is voting on what one claims is unreliable information, and in this case, one should not be voting.

Your position also ignores the whole political bit that would require someone who wants to end "unnecessary suffering" to "spend enormous effort and money" to "attain a high position" if they actually want to make a goddamned difference.

A practical difference is very rarely made by those in high positions; legal changes are obviously often made. Compare, e.g., the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the recent FPP on the Louisiana prison system. There are exceptions, of course, but in general "the system" is fairly ineffective at preventing unnecessary suffering or even refraining from causing it. Why, then, should we have faith that a given individual's best hope of helping to mitigate unnecessary suffering is to become part of this system?

That last bit is just inflammatory, and I'm not sure what it's supposed to mean.

This is absolutely not just inflammatory. The administration of which Biden is a part makes use of armed unmanned aerial vehicles to kill people in order to further US foreign policy goals. Part of the justification for this practice is that it eliminates the risk of harm to US military personnel who would otherwise be tasked with killing those people, at least when he made them, Biden believed that the deaths of the US soldiers who would have otherwise been used to to further those aims were sufficiently tragic that, if possible, those aims should be achieved without the risk of those soldiers' deaths, but that the deaths of the targets of those killings, in addition to the numerous civilian victims, are a qualitatively inferior type of suffering, in the sense that it is less important to try to avoid them. (Moreover, at least one of those killed was a US citizen, not convicted of any crime nor a member of any state's military. Does the current instantiation of state power hold US military lives more valuable that US civilian lives?)

This is why the stated function of Memorial Day is dishonest. There is no Wounded Knee Massacre Day, or Joe Hill Day, or Sacco and Vanzetti Day, or Troy Davis (With High Probability) Day, or Wehrmacht Conscripts Who Were Not Nazis But Instead Decided To Risk Probable Death In Battle Rather Than Certain Death At Their Commanders' Hands Day, or My Lai Day, or No-Knock Warrant Mistaken Identity Victims' Day. As far as I know, there is no great effort to honour victims of US state-sponsored violence, except in the case that those victims are US soldiers*. I'm offended that there is an official holiday to enshrine the belief that the deaths of some victims of state violence are tragic, or at least more worthy of acknowledgement, than others.

If Memorial Day were primarily about acknowledging the suffering of war, then there would be more celebration of those who have worked to prevent that type of suffering, instead of the out-and-out militarism that characterizes a lot of Memorial Day observance.

I also appreciate the loss of the dead in all wars, which is exactly why I find any display of nationalism, or any focus on one particular class of war dead, or really anything other than "Sorry that my organisation murdered your kid; I will work, to the exclusion of all other goals, to try to ensure that it doesn't happen again.", offensive words from a politician that powerful on that subject.

*(Actually, is it bad form to dress up as a Confederate soldier in a Memorial Day parade, or do people do this? It's not like the folks in the grey uniforms were all a bunch of slave-owning nasties. Like soldiers in all wars, they are best understood as victims.)

What are you calling for?

I'm not calling for anything. I'm calling bullshit. Now that you mention it, though, it seems pretty reasonable to call for a world in which state violence is only used in unambiguous defense of that state's citizens, when they are in immediate peril, and not in order to achieve the aims of the state (rather than the people whom the state exists to serve). This is obviously a ludicrously tall order, but the least we peons can do is avoid partaking in narratives that basically glorify the murder of our fellow humans (some of whom are our fellow-citizens, in uniform) by failing to condemn it categorically.
posted by kengraham at 10:41 AM on May 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


", at least when he made them, " should read: ". When Biden made statements supporting the use of drones rather than soldiers, he believed..."

Apologies for incomplete pre-post-post-editing.
posted by kengraham at 10:44 AM on May 27, 2012


My son is in Afghanistan. At this point, I'm not sure why. As a believer in Quaker philosophy, every day that my son is at war is a heartbreaker. I can't bear to watch the video, because it's been hard enough to adjust to my son's choices, which are his own, and to support him for making those choices carefully and thoughtfully. I'm proud that he has shown that thoughtfulness in his chosen work. I have to be in denial about my fears, or I'd have to take a lot of drugs.

Kengraham, I like your passion, and I hope we have some common ground. We're in a war in Afghanistan for complicated reasons, some of which the current government isn't responsible for. We're still there for reasons that are certainly complicated, and with goals that may or may not be achievable. There's such poor day-to-day coverage of the war that I can't say I have a good handle on it at this point.

A nation of Quakers, pacifists, war resistors, and purists doesn't fare well in a world with thugs in it. Sometimes, governments act expediently, they compromise and they try to effect the most good with the least bad. I don't think a politician could function without that mindset. Too much of that thinking is terrible, too little is ineffective. I think Biden believes in
a world in which state violence is only used in unambiguous defense of that state's citizens, when they are in immediate peril, and not in order to achieve the aims of the state
and I'll grant him the benefit of the doubt in trusting that he is acting on good information, with good intent. I want the war over, and my son, and every other soldier, sailor, airperson, contractor and peaceful man, woman and child, to come home from the war. Is the war over if women can't hold a job, even if they have no other support? Is the war over if women can't be educated? Is it over if there are organized groups dedicated to terrorizing the US, as well as their own citizens who have beliefs deemed unacceptable? If they train and organize and promote violence?

If you're advocating the peaceful abolition of the US war machine with its hunger for obscene profit at any human cost, its distribution of arms throughout the world, its corruption of US politics, I'll join you on the barricades. But I'll be quakerly about it, and will find the light in every spirit, including Joe Biden.
posted by theora55 at 11:12 AM on May 27, 2012 [10 favorites]


I think no matter what your opinions are about Memorial Day, Biden's speech is one of the most powerful acknowledgements of grief and its costs and struggles, as well as being a strong testimony about recovery from loss that I've ever heard. It was heartfelt, eloquent, and honest.

Put aside the whole Memorial Day thing, and take the speech on the merits it has outside that specific context. Because his words shouldn't be bound by context. I've never seen a politician make such a speech before, and I may never see such a thing again. Hands down one of the best things I've seen about this kind of delicate subject.
posted by hippybear at 11:28 AM on May 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


I hope we have some common ground

It seems like we do. Maybe it's because I became more-or-less conscious of the world around me, at least in the newspaper-reading sense, right when the powers that be started prosecuting a war that was not based on good information or conducted with good intent, and don't know anything else about the state's behaviour that's not in history books, but I don't see the basis for believing that the war in Afghanistan is being fought with good intent, at least on the part of its leaders. (Thank you for pointing out that there are as many reasons why individual soldiers are there as there are soldiers. I have no doubt that some of those reasons are very well-considered and based on good intentions, and based on beliefs that differ from mine [and yours?] on a level basic enough that reasonable people can disagree.)

I don't think that serious human problems (repression of women, lack of education, theocratic tyranny, the type of desperation and insanity that breed terrorism, etc.) are part of the war, in two senses. First, I don't think that these problems can be solved by war. In fact, many problems in Afghanistan were exacerbated, or maybe straight-up caused, by the Soviet invasion and its aftermath (and the unsavoury characters who flocked there on the CIA dime to participate).

Second, I doubt that the people in charge of the war are motivated primarily by those problems. The evidence is that those problems, and similar ones, are in evidence in numerous parts of the world that have not been invaded on some humanitarian pretext. Again, I have no doubt that individual actions by those involved have chipped away at all sorts of problems, but there just doesn't seem to be a lot of historical precedent for wars being fought to improve the lives of people who aren't part of the invading country's politicians' constituency. There are, however, very recent historical examples of humanitarian excuses for wars that in fact had everything to do with the US war machine and its hunger for obscene profit.

If you're advocating the peaceful abolition of the US war machine with its hunger for obscene profit at any human cost, its distribution of arms throughout the world, its corruption of US politics, I'll join you on the barricades.

This is exactly what I'm advocating. (The Chinese, Russian, North Korean, British, Indian, Iranian, etc. should all go, to. The Swiss would probably be okay hanging on to theirs.) I think we only differ, fundamentally, in that to me, "peaceful" means that each human possesses, in principle, inherent worth and dignity and therefore, I will not harm them, even if their particular worth and dignity is hard for me to see. It's admirable if your desire for peace is less abstract and dogmatic than mine, and based on being able to spot the actual worth and dignity of people (like most politicians) in whom the humanity is really hard for me to spot, and has to be sort of inferred.
posted by kengraham at 12:25 PM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Joe Biden knows what he's talking about. He understands the people in the room, and his words can help beyond just those who are mourning dead soldiers. That was a good speech.

Regarding questions of whether Biden is a hypocrite for sharing his experiences on Memorial Day weekend with a group of people who have lost their soldier family members, of whether he or anyone should respect the sacrifices of American soldiers on the day set aside in America for such respect, of whether the legitimacy of any war is questionable given that war is always fought for political aims, and moreover whether anyone who wants to be a politician is willfully making themselves part of that warmongering process: I wonder why this judgment is anyone's to make, and I wonder why anyone would think it appropriate to do so in response to this speech.

War has killed countless people. It has made countless people free. It has destroyed families, villages, cities, countries, and ways of life. It has paved roads and advanced technology and brought wealth and happiness, not just to a few, but to countless people. In American history alone there have been wars of opportunity, of questionable moral purpose, shameful wars; right and just wars, wars to end tyranny; wars that destroyed cultures, lifeways, and entire peoples; wars that ended slavery, wars that hoped to end all wars. Many American soldiers, individual humans all, have died for many reasons. Some died for their cause, some at the whim of a politician or by the stupidity of a general. Some died bravely, some were surely cowards to the end. Some died to save their family, or their friends, or their comrades, or total strangers. If there was a formula we could apply to these deaths to come up with some aggregate worth for the average fallen American soldier, it wouldn't be particularly illuminating.

To judge this man a hypocrite for talking to grieving families about how they mustn't give up on their own lives, and to base that judgment on a narrow view of American soldiers and politicians, and a narrow aim of "calling bullshit" about how the United States honors its own fallen soldiers -- and won't somebody think of the fallen enemies? -- isn't merely naive and insensitive. It's churlish and arrogant.

Other people's worth is not for you to calculate. Their humanity doesn't depend on your observation. Their dignity is frankly none of your business, kengraham. The pride you display in your judgment of others people's right to grieve is loathsome.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 1:45 PM on May 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


This speech gave some comfort to my sister who lost her daughter to brain cancer at a very young age. So yeah, we can forget about the rest for now.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:07 PM on May 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


The pride you display in your judgment of others people's right to grieve is loathsome.

Where was I passing judgement on any individual's right to grieve about anyone? I was passing judgement on a culture's willingness to grieve selectively.
posted by kengraham at 2:45 PM on May 27, 2012


Other people's basic worth is for everyone to calculate, and get the same (positive) answer for everyone, every time, regardless of our feelings about the person, was my point. Everything I complained about in my posts, I think, stems from people valuing some people more than others, when they know nothing about any of the individuals in question.

Apparently I didn't communicate any of that properly, since Ice Cream Socialist inferred almost the exact opposite.

I'm not saying to value a stranger as much as one's mother, just that I don't think it's right to value Stranger A over Stranger B just because Stranger A shares your nationality or whatever. I'm also not sure why a politician is suddenly immune to criticism just because he happened to say something with strong emotional appeal. I mean, I don't want to Godwin, but...
posted by kengraham at 2:56 PM on May 27, 2012


Something I thought was noble about this speech is the way he avoids going into details about his own experience that would make you feel sorry for him. He starts talking about something he felt when he was going to identify his wife and daughter's bodies, catches himself, and just sticks to the details he thinks will most help this audience about dealing with the emotions of loss. He sliced out stuff like this about ten times during the speech, to emphasize that it wasn't about him, it was about them seemed like a pretty selfless exposure of raw emotions about personal grief from a person with a job where talking about emotions and weakness could get you media attention that could imperil your job, long term. And he seems to have said, basically, fuck it, this is more important. That was pretty great, really.
posted by onlyconnect at 3:14 PM on May 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


kengraham: " Everything I complained about in my posts, I think, stems from people valuing some people more than others, when they know nothing about any of the individuals in question. "

When did Biden do that in this speech? When did anyone do that in this thread?
posted by wierdo at 4:06 PM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


kengraham, not everything has to be about politics. Despite agreeing with many of the things you say about war, I find your axe grinding here out of place and tone deaf.

This is a post about one person sharing the human experience of grief, loss, and recovery with other people. I'd like to think that if even if this speech was made by someone whose politics and policies I abhor, I would be able to appreciate the common shared human experience of loss and grief.

Kudos to him for sharing on such a human level. I wish we had more leaders as good as Joe Biden.
posted by madamjujujive at 4:21 PM on May 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


When did Biden do that in this speech?

We as a culture have a tendency to do that. It seems like, by giving this speech on a holiday that more or less officially sanctions our tendency to do that, at an organization with "fallen heroes" stuff on its website and a military-reference name, Biden is kind of pandering to that instinct, in addition to whatever other (excellent) stuff he's doing.

The context pretty much made it impossible to listen to his whole speech. What I heard of the speech made it seem to me like this person gained wisdom and insight into a terrible type of suffering from the loss of his family, and is able to communicate that to other people, suffering in a similar way. That's fantastic.

Therefore, the fact that this person, who knows intimately what it is like to suffer the death of a loved one, decided to help prosecute a war in which people's loved ones are routinely killed, is infuriating to me. It gives the impression that Mr. Biden thinks it's a tragedy when certain people lose their loved ones, but that, in other cases, it's an acceptable tragedy. He's definitely "doing that", and all of the fawning over him really pissed me off. I'm sorry for the inflammatory rhetoric and lazy reasoning that you'll find in some parts of my earlier posts.
posted by kengraham at 4:22 PM on May 27, 2012


What I understand you to be saying is that he's not actually "doing that," but you wish he were because it allows you to be infuriated rather than sad.
posted by wierdo at 4:34 PM on May 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


The context pretty much made it impossible to listen to his whole speech.

That, there, is the problem. If you're going to go on an anti-something tirade which draws allusions to other surrounding events from far and wide and YOU'RE NOT EVEN GOING TO BOTHER WATCHING A 20 MINUTE VIDEO TO THE END before you do it, then you're obviously not really in a position to make the aspersions you're making.

Anyway, to be fair, he made this speech on Friday, May 25. Memorial Day is Monday, May 28. He didn't make any speech on any holiday.
posted by hippybear at 4:36 PM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


wierdo: I'm saying that because of his other actions, and the circumstances of his speech, he can't not be "doing that&quot. I don't know how you came to that conclusion about what I wish.

In fact, I wish people weren't being sent around the world to kill and die. I wish the people sending those folks to kill and die would consider all violent deaths equally tragic, and prove that they believed this by vehemently opposing the practice of sending folks to kill and die, instead of supporting that practice while simultaneously having a profound understanding of the tragedy of violent death. The latter contradiction is inexplicable and highly irritating, in addition to being extremely sad.
posted by kengraham at 5:18 PM on May 27, 2012


You seem to have driven yourself to the brink of Godwinning this discussion because...it is highly irritating you that he isn't a pacifist?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:26 PM on May 27, 2012


it is highly irritating you that he isn't a pacifist?

I'm done now. I feel bad that my little (sincere but kneejerk) throwaway comment + compulsion to respond to responses clearly fucked up this discussion, so I will stop.

[I had a response written to furiousxgeorge but it would not be nice to make a final argumentative post and then not acknowledge the reply; furiousxgeorge can memail me if xe wants xyr presumably rhetorical question answered.]
posted by kengraham at 6:02 PM on May 27, 2012


kengraham, I feel I should say I understand your position, and while it's too absolutist a stance for me I can appreciate it-and your clearly heartfelt dedication to the beliefs underlying it. I didn't intend to put you to the question, and I don't think you need to feel badly about the thread running away with itself for a moment there.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:04 PM on May 27, 2012


Damn. I finally got around to watching this, and it was really remarkable.
posted by brundlefly at 2:12 PM on May 28, 2012


« Older Banding Peregrine falcon chicks...while Peregrine...   |   We're watching your comments... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post