Wrote William McGurn, a speechwriter for President George W. Bush, in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, quoted in a New York Times column that strives to put Biden in the most beautifully golden light, "In Invoking Beau, Biden Broaches a Loss That’s Guided His Presidency/Referring to Beau Biden with families of U.S. Marines killed in the Kabul airport bombing drew criticism, but the president remains haunted by memories of a son he described as 'me, but without all the downsides.'"
That headline appears above a photograph of Biden with his eyes closed and a tear rolling down his cheek. The piece is by White House correspondent Katie Rogers:
Mr. Biden has never claimed that his son died in combat, but he has often spoken of his son’s overseas deployment and the toll it took on his family. Mr. Biden’s supporters say that military families are entitled to their grief, but that the president is also entitled to his....
The general thinking among Mr. Biden’s supporters is that he is a welcome change from President Donald J. Trump, who was almost always publicly unable to express empathy. They believe Mr. Biden is the right president for this moment in history, one so far marked by the unthinkable loss....
Biden needs to show people that he's focused on the problems that beset us now and that he can do something to help us. To stand there offering up himself as an example of a person who has suffered doesn't send a message of focus and competence. It's a message that can be read as Hey, I've got problems of my own. Faced with parents of marines who'd just been killed, he said, essentially, my son died too.
His son died 6 years ago. You might be tolerant of an old man who came up to you at your child's funeral and wanted you to know how much he still hurts from the death of his child 6 years ago. It might be difficult, but you'd probably think something like, that poor old guy. But this poor old guy is President of the United States. He asked to be President of the United States, and by some strange twists of fate, he got what he said he wanted. And now everyone's problems are his. He needs to act like someone who can handle all that. If he's swallowed up in grief over his lost son — if he's "haunted," as the NYT headline has it — perhaps he should resign.
It is possible — though it's awkward to say this — that he's not as absorbed in grief as he acts. He may be doing the theater of empathy. It's worked for him to a certain extent. Some people like to see a big display of empathy in politics. Others — a dead marine's father, McGurn, etc. — are telling Biden he's going too far. If it's theater, he can rein it it. Touch up those speeches. Get back to Obama-level empathy, but stress competence and mental clarity.
But it's no wonder he's lapsed into the misconception that "Beau" is a magic word. The press has propped him up so much — including with this "Invoking Beau" article. You know, to "invoke" means "To call on (God, a deity, etc.) in prayer or as a witness" or "To summon (a spirit) by charms or incantation; to conjure; also figurative" or "To call upon, or call to (a person) to come or to do something."
How is Biden "invoking" Beau?