The Corner

Politics & Policy

The Sudden, Short-Lived Objection to Political Speeches from Grieving Mothers

From the Tuesday Morning Jolt, live from Cleveland…

Pat Smith:I Blame Hillary Clinton Personally for the Death of my Son.’

Hey, remember when grieving mothers of American men slain in battle had “absolute moral authority,” in the words of New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd?

Why would Pat Smith, mother of Sean Smith, one  of the four Americans killed in the attack in Benghazi on September 11,  2012, not have that same authority?

From Pat Smith’s remarks Monday night: 

My son Sean was one of four brave Americans killed during the 2012 terrorist attack at Benghazi.

Sean was a wonderful son and father to my two amazing grandchildren, Samantha and Nathan, now 10 and 11. He was proud to serve his country with the United States Foreign Service.  The last time I talked to Sean, the night before the terrorist attack, he told me, “Mom, I am going to die.”

All security had been pulled from the embassy, he explained. And when he asked why, he never received a response. Nobody listened.  Nobody seemed to care.


The very next day, he was murdered by radical Islamic  terrorists. To this day, I don’t even know why a computer guy like Sean was sent to Benghazi. That night, we lost sons, brothers, fathers, and husbands. We lost four brave Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for the country they chose to serve. And the American people lost the truth.


For all of this loss, for all of this grief, for all of the cynicism the tragedy in Benghazi has wrought upon America, I blame Hillary Clinton. I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son.


In an email to her daughter shortly after the attack, Hillary Clinton blamed it on terrorism. But when I saw Hillary Clinton at Sean’s coffin ceremony, just days later, she looked me squarely in the eye and told me a video was responsible. Since then, I have repeatedly asked Hillary Clinton to explain to me the real reason why my son is dead. I’m still waiting.


Whenever I called the State Department, no one would speak to me because they say I am “not a member of the immediate family.” Sean is my SON. Hillary Clinton is a woman, a mother and a grandmother of two. I am a woman, a mother and a grandmother of two. How could she do this to me? How could she do this to any American family? 

It will not surprise you to learn that a lot of members of the media seethed at Smith’s speech. Perhaps it was indeed exploitative for the Trump campaign to put her front and center at the convention; she’s grieving and, some will argue, looking for a scapegoat for her son’s death. (Again, I don’t recall this argument coming from any Democrats during the peak of Cindy Sheehan’s public role in antiwar activism. Or the “Jersey Girl” 9/11 widows who endorsed Kerry.)

If you’re one of those folks who found Pat Smith’s remarks shamelessly exploitative, I wonder if you’ll see the same grumbling about the speakers at the upcoming Democratic National Convention:

Also scheduled Tuesday are Mothers of the Movement members Gwen Carr, Mother of Eric Garner; Sybrina Fulton, Mother of Trayvon Martin; Maria Hamilton, Mother of Dontré Hamilton; Lucia McBath, Mother of Jordan Davis; Lezley McSpadden, Mother of Michael Brown; Cleopatra Pendleton-Cowley, Mother of Hadiya Pendleton; Geneva Reed-Veal, Mother of Sandra Bland.


Oh, now it’s not okay to invoke tragic deaths in the name of a political agenda? I’ll keep that in mind next week. Or after the next mass shooting.

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