Biden’s Son Headed to Iraq

We’ve known for some time that CPT Beau Biden, son of VP nominee Joe, is headed off to Iraq. Dad sent them off with a farewell address today:

Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del. salutes the crowd after addressing a deployment ceremony for a unit of the Delaware Army National Guard, Friday, Oct. 3, 2008, in Dover, Del. Biden's son, Beau, is a member of the unit that will be going to Iraq. (AP Photo/Rob Carr) Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden told his son and other Delaware National Guard troops on Friday that his heart was “full of love and pride” as they prepared to leave for an assignment in Iraq.

“We take comfort in the knowledge that you are the best-trained, best-prepared group of citizen soldiers that our country to this day has ever sent into harm’s way,” Biden told members of the 261st Signal Brigade at a ceremony outside the state Capitol. Biden’s son Beau, Delaware’s attorney general, serves as a captain and a lawyer in the 261st. The unit leaves Sunday for Fort Bliss, Texas, where it will train for about six weeks before heading to Iraq.

The normally loquacious senator spoke only briefly, telling his audience at the outset that his son had advised him: “Dad, keep it short. We’re in formation.”

“As you serve and look out for your brothers and sisters in arms, your families here at home promise you that we’ll look out for one another,” Biden said.

Biden’s Republican rival, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, gave a similar farewell talk in Alaska last month to the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, which includes her oldest son, Track, a 19-year-old private. She told the unit that its yearlong assignment to northern Iraq would be a “defense of America, in America’s cause. And it’s a righteous cause.”

Decades ago, it would not have been the least bit remarkable that the sons of politicians were headed in to harm’s way when the nation is at war. Nowadays, though, it’s simply astounding.

Godspeed to Beau, Track, and all the others.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Iraq War, Military Affairs, US Politics, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Triumph says:

    This politicization of the troops and his son is anti-American. What a scum.

  2. Michael says:

    Decades ago, it would not have been the least bit remarkable that the sons of politicians were headed in to harm’s way when the nation is at war. Nowadays, though, it’s simply astounding.

    That’s the price you pay for peace.

  3. James Joyner says:

    That’s the price you pay for peace.

    No, that’s the price you pay for creating a sense that wars are something “other people” fight. Starting with Vietnam, it became remarkable for the sons of the rich to fight our nation’s wars.

  4. Michael says:

    No, that’s the price you pay for creating a sense that wars are something “other people” fight. Starting with Vietnam, it became remarkable for the sons of the rich to fight our nation’s wars

    How often since Vietnam have we had a war large enough to prompt those sons to enlist? Between 1992 and 2001, what service would the sons of the rich really been had they enlisted?

  5. just me says:

    I think it also comes from having a smaller and all volunteer military as well.

    I actually like the fact that three of the candidates on the two main tickets have children who have served or are now serving in Iraq or afghanistan-or in the case of McCain with two sons in the military-one just hasn’t finished his schooling yet at the Naval Academy. It is clear they do have a stake in what is going on beyond the political one.

  6. sam says:

    Starting with Vietnam, it became remarkable for the sons of the rich to fight our nation’s wars.

    Mark Shields had a stat he used to cite that went something like this:

    South Boston sent 250 of its sons to fight in Vietnam, in the same time period, 10 went from Harvard.

  7. tom p says:

    This politicization of the troops and his son is anti-American. What a scum.

    Triumph: were you similarly critical of Palin and McCain?

    No, that’s the price you pay for creating a sense that wars are something “other people” fight. Starting with Vietnam, it became remarkable for the sons of the rich to fight our nation’s wars.

    James… dead on. In Vietnam and the years after, if one could avoid Military service, one did. My ex-brother in law got into the National Gaurd and made no bones about it: His mother was very well politically connected and she did not want to see her only son die in a war no one cared about, so she got him into the NG (which meant, back then, “Not Going”)

    Times are different now, and I can only second James original thought:

    “Godspeed to Beau, Track, and all the others.”

    May they all come back….

  8. spencer says:

    Sam — 250 from South Boston is what share of the populaion and 10 is what share of the Harvard population?

    For all I know Harvard sent a larger share of its population to Vietnam than South Boston.

    Do you have the answer to this question?

    Or, are you just throwing around meaningless numbers?

  9. spencer says:

    I just checked the numbers.

    The population of south boston in 2000 was 29,965.
    250 is 0.8% of that.

    The Harvard graduating class is normally around 400.

    10 is 2.5% of that. If you use the entire undergrad enrollment of around 1,600 the 10 would be around 0.6%, or about the same share as that of south boston.

    You are just throwing around meaningless numbers.

  10. mike says:

    Spencer – if you are doing research – look at the number of ROTC grads from Princeton, Harvard and the like from 1950-1965 and from 1990-2005 – you will be stunned – those in the military are not but you will be.

  11. sam says:

    Sam — 250 from South Boston is what share of the populaion and 10 is what share of the Harvard population?

    For all I know Harvard sent a larger share of its population to Vietnam than South Boston.

    Yeah, right. Southie, in those days, had a population of around 20,000 or so — that’s adults and draft-age kids. Put the draft-age population at about, say, 4,000. In the same time period, Harvard had a student population of around 16,000 — draft-age kids. I lived in Cambridge during the war years, and I guarantee you they weren’t racing down to the recruiting station to enlist. And we’re not even counting who didn’t go from MIT (just up Mass Ave from Harvard).

  12. sam says:

    BTW, I’m counting the student population as including those in the College, graduate and undergraduate, Med School, Law School, and Business School. Seems only fair, though–they were still of draft age.