A transfer case containing the remains of a soldier who died in the Paktia province of Afghanistan is moved at the Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on September 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)
After years of neglect from politicians and the media, the war in Afghanistan finally sprung into public view this week.
At Tuesday’s presidential press conference in the White House, reporters shouted questions about the war to Obama as he left the podium. House Speaker John Boehner mentioned it in his own press conference only hours later, angrily dropping the word “disgraceful;” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also spoke about the families of fallen troops in a floor speech on Tuesday in which he used the phrase “shameful and embarrassing.” He was joined in a rare bipartisan colloquy by Senator John McCain, who exclaimed he too was “ashamed” and “embarrassed.”
Meanwhile, virtually every mainstream news outlet had a story this week about troops being killed in Afghanistan. Many included images of caskets coming off military transport planes at Dover Air Force Base, and were peppered with the words “disgusting” and “outrage.” Well-read blogs on both the right and the left were in on the story, too.
But the occasion wasn’t the twelfth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan, which happened to pass by on Monday virtually unnoticed: instead, the war has become a major talking point in the ongoing shutdown drama. Since the government is largely closed for business, the families of troops killed in Afghanistan aren’t receiving the standard death benefit payments, nor is the Pentagon paying for their trip to Dover to collect the remains of their loved one.