One of the more moving moments from President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address was when he honored Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens, who died in the Yemen raid, and his widow, Carryn Owens, who attended the address. However, the Democrats refused to stand and applaud for Owens.
Now the left is complaining that Trump used Owens as a political prop:
Maybe it’s not, I don’t know. But this feels exploitative and terrible. This woman is in grief.
— Foster Kamer (@weareyourfek) March 1, 2017
Maybe they just thought exploiting his sacrifice for partisan purposes was gross. https://t.co/OtAcSGQPBC
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) March 1, 2017
Trump sent a soldier off to die in a half-baked raid and then used his grieving widow as a prop. I’m still processing this.
— Jordan Weissmann (@JHWeissmann) March 1, 2017
There was also the since-deleted tweet by a former volunteer for Hillary Clinton that read, “Sorry, Owens’ wife, you’re not helping yourself or your husband’s memory by standing there and clapping like an idiot. Trump just used you.”
Here are five times that Democrats have used Gold Star families as political props.
1. The Khan family. As Stephen Miller noted in Heat Street, the Democrats complaining about Trump’s supposed exploitation of Owens are from “the party that rolled out Gold Star family members Khizr Muazzam Khan and Ghazala Khan during the Democrat National Convention and paraded them around cable news for a week in response to Trump’s flippant comments.”
Indeed, Khizr Khan gave a speech at the Democrat National Convention that had Democrats salivating; the Khan family became celebrities for a period of time as a result. Khizr Khan was even featured in a Clinton campaign ad.
2. Cindy Sheehan. Sheehan’s son perished in the Iraq War; she eventually became a vocal critic of President George W. Bush to the point where she became “the Joan of Arc of the anti-war Left,” per Jonah Goldberg:
Sheehan’s “moral authority,” New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd genuflected, was “absolute.”
NBC reporter Carl Quintanilla interviewed historians he agreed with, and then reported: “Sheehan, say some historians, may be evolving as an icon in the war’s turning point. . . . For three weeks, she’s dominated headlines, mobilized protesters, [and made] it safe, her supporters say, to voice doubts about the war, just as Walter Cronkite did on the evening news in 1968.”
Then–NBC News anchor Brian Williams introduced a profile of Sheehan by saying, “As the 1960s protest song said, ‘There’s something happening here.’”
It’s also worth noting Democrat operative Joe Trippi helped Sheehan gain attention in the 2004 election through a left-wing blogger conference.
Sheehan’s publicity has since dwindled, which happened to coincide with her being critical of Barack Obama’s presidency. It’s almost as if the Democrats viewed her as a political prop against Bush that was no longer of use once Obama came into office.
3. Michelle DeFord. DeFord, who lost her son in Iraq, was featured in anti-Trump ads put forth by the leftist PACs Priorities USA and VoteVets:
“When I saw Donald Trump attack another Gold Star mother, I felt such a sense of outrage. I would like to tell Donald Trump what it feels like, the sense of emptiness that only losing a child can bring. Those people should be honored and treated with kindness for the rest of their lives, and I don’t think that Donald Trump will ever understand that,” DeFord said in the ad.
She also talked about her experience when three soldiers showed up at her door to deliver the news that her son was dead.
“The sound of their boots as they came up those stairs will stay with me for the rest of my life … it’s a fate I would not wish on anybody,” she said.
4. Hillary Clinton lied about Benghazi while standing in front of the victims’ coffins.
Oh, you mean like Democrats standing in front of the coffins of the Benghazi dead? https://t.co/IwOCQayGY6
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) March 1, 2017
Two of the Benghazi victims’ parents have claimed that Clinton told them that the terror attack was the result of an anti-Muslim video–a blatant lie. Clinton later implied that these Gold Star parents were lying.
5. Barack Obama was introduced by a Gold Star mother at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. “I requested Sharon [Belkofer] to introduce me, because I understood that our Gold Star families have made a sacrifice that most of us can’t even begin to imagine,” Obama said to a veterans group. “They represent the best of our country.”
Belkofer’s son died in Afghanistan in 2010.
As USA Today noted, “Obama’s comments came in a speech defending his administration’s handling of veterans issues. He urged Congress to fully fund the VA, promised to reduce wait times and criticized proposals to partially privatize veterans health care.”
In other words, Belkofer was used as a political prop.
Follow Aaron Bandler on Twitter @bandlersbanter.