Friday, July 25, 2008

Lack of respect

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barak Obama canceled a planned visit to a U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany when the Pentagon advised him that he could only visit as a member of the Senate, not as a political candidate accompanied by his media entourage and campaign staff.

The Obama campaign said they were afraid the visit would appear inappropriate.

A New York Times story reported that Scott Gration, a retired two-star Air Force general who advises the campaign and is traveling on the Obama trip, said Obama intended to visit, but didn't want it perceived as a political event.

“Senator Obama had hoped to and had every intention of visiting our troops to express his appreciation and gratitude for their service to our country,” he said. “Senator Obama did not want to have a trip to see our wounded warriors perceived as a campaign event when his visit was to show his appreciation for our troops and decided instead not to go.”

Some left leaning blogs imply the Pentagon scrapped the visit, and others even contend Sen. John McCain sabotaged the visit.

The Pentagon denies discouraging Obama from visiting, emphasizing Obama was welcome to visit, but simply had to abide by the military's policy that forbids political campaigning at military hospitals.

“Senator Obama, in his official capacity, is always welcome to visit Landstuhl or any other military hospital. But it is not permitted to bring with him campaign staff. His team was notified of that, and they made a decision not to visit the hospital. But we were ready and willing to host him there. In fact, we had made arrangements for his campaign plane to land at Ramstein, and to take care of the campaign staff and press in a passenger terminal there, while the senator and senate staff, if he liked, went on to visit wounded warriors. They made a decision based on their own calculations not to visit. Senator Obama, like any other member of the senate, is always welcome to visit our wounded warriors or our military hospitals around the world. But they do so in their official capacity, and not as a candidate. He can come in and bring enate staffers as well, if he likes, but campaign staffers and press are not permitted to accompany him. That would be a violation of DoD directives.”

According to an AFP report, Obama could have visited, but he was only allowed one Senate staffer and appropriate security personnel.

McCain criticized Obama's statements, saying it is never inappropriate to visit troops.

Sean Hannity reported that Obama utilized the void in his schedule to work out.

Reading between the lines, it appears Obama canceled the visit when it became obvious it would provide no photo opportunities, no nightly news story, and no potential bump in the polls.

Why not make the visit out of respect for the men and women who have literally shed blood for this country?

I think Obama's refusal to visit says a lot about the man who could potentially become commander in chief. He has shown a total lack of respect, communicating that wounded soldiers have value only insofar as they provide a prop for his political campaign.

While Obama contends he did not want the visit to have the appearance of a campaign event, the fact that he was welcome to visit without all of the hype that has surrounded the rest of his trip to the middle east and Europe, shows that a campaign event was exactly what he was looking for.

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